Three Weeks In, Still More Questions Than Answers for Clemson Offense

Clemson’s offense has been downright stagnant so far. After Week 3, the offense seemingly has not improved, possibly even regressed. But the question is, why?

One of the main reasons is the lack of explosive plays. By Clemson’s standards, an explosive play is a run for 12 yards or longer, or a pass for 16 yards or more. NFL standards are a run for 20 yard or better, or a pass for 30 yards or more. Against Georgia Tech, I can only recall seeing about 3 of these, by Clemson standards. 0 by NFL standards.

Through three games, Clemson has eight plays of 20-plus yards. That ranks 117th nationally. Only seven of 132 teams have fewer plays of that amount.
Clemson’s explosive pass play rate by season

𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭: 𝟴.𝟬%
2020: 19.8%
2019: 18.1%
2018: 16.8%

It’s really tough for an offense to push the ball down the field methodically, gaining just a handful of yards per play. With the lack of explosive plays on offense, that’s exactly what Clemson must do.

DJ Uiagalelei, Tony Elliot, the offensive line, and others will take some heat, and rightfully so. There is surely enough blame to go around. The real head scratcher is the lack of even any real attempts to stretch the field vertically in the passing game. With no vertical passing threat, the safeties can move up and help stuff the running game.

We’re a quarter of the way through the regular season already, so time is running out for this staff to get this thing figured out. The ACC won’t provide any elite teams to truly challenge Clemson, but even teams like Georgia Tech can beat you if you cannot score.

When comparing the talent level of Georgia Tech and Clemson, there is no comparison. Clemson is a MUCH better team than Tech. And it’s not close. So not being able to score against an underwhelming opponent like this in Week 3 is very alarming.

Getting back to the question of why the Tigers didn’t even attempt a pass down field. Is the problem QB accuracy? Offensive line being able to hold up? Receivers being on the same page as the QB? Play calling? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you that the coaching staff knows the reason. Hopefully they will get it figured out, and fast, because such an offensive offense might not bode well for Clemson on the road against NC State.

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