Since Athlon Magazine ran its Clemson preview earlier this summer, people have gone on and on about what an opposing coach said in regards to the Tigers “allegedly” stealing offensive signals from its opposition. But what many have failed to mention is all the positive things the anonymous coach said about the Tigers.
It’s no secret Clemson had one of the more talented football teams in the country last year. Clemson was one of only two teams—Louisville the other—to rank in the top 15 in both total offense and total defense. The Tigers were also one of six teams to rank in the top 15 in both scoring offense and scoring defense in college football. Clemson beat two of those teams—Ohio State and Alabama—in the College Football Playoff and of course beat Louisville as well.
It’s obvious that’s why it won the national championship.
“In my time in college football, I’ve played a lot of people, but the Clemson team last year, dadgum, they were so good, and their staff does a damn good job,” the opposing coach said to Athlon in its ACC Preview Magazine. “They have creative ways to get people touches, and if you’re a good player you will touch the ball.”
How good was Clemson in 2016? The Tigers averaged margin of victory in their 14 wins was 22.8 points per game, the highest margin of victory in Clemson history. Five times they won by 31 or more points, including a 31-0 victory over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
“With (defensive coordinator Brent) Venables, you wonder how he gets it installed week to week because he changes so much and he morphs,” the anonymous coach said. “They really copycat what stops you. So if somebody else gave you fits with something, you were going to see it when you play Clemson, and not a lot of people do that.”
Of course, Clemson did all of this against the nation’s toughest schedule. The Tigers were 7-1 in games decided by seven points or less, establishing a school record for wins by seven points or less in a season.
Clemson finished the year ranked in the top 8 nationally in eight different categories, including No. 1 in total first downs and total plays and No. 3 in total touchdowns and total points scored.
Defensively, they were just as impressive, if not more. They ranked in the top 10 in 12 different categories, including No. 1 yards per pass attempt and total tackles for loss. They were also No. 2 in three-and-outs.
And though the opposing coach accused Clemson of “allegedly” stealing signals, he was also quick to point out that it would not have mattered.
“Now they’ll steal your signals,” he said. “People don’t want to talk about it, but the teams that gave them fits were NC State and Pitt because they huddle. I don’t think that is a coincidence. It’s not a very well-kept secret, but it did not matter. They could have told us what was coming on every play and they would have whipped us.”
The anonymous coach was also very impressed with Clemson’s defensive front, especially defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
“Their defensive front is a problem,” he said. “They grow’em on trees, but they develop them too. Dexter Lawrence, I hope he decides to take the next two years off.”
The only other negative the opposing coach said about Clemson was in regards to the secondary, which he mentioned as “alright” but “they grab better than anyone else.”
Of course he had more of a leg to stand on with that comment considering Clemson led the country in pass interference penalties enforced.
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