Whether they win or lose before a bye week, the Clemson coaches always use the week off to scout themselves. They try to find out where they can get better at both offensively and defensively, while trying to pick up what tendencies they are showing the opposition.
Few teams across the country are as productive as the Clemson coaching staff on an off week. Following its open date, Clemson is 7-2 under head coach Dabo Swinney. In fact, Swinney’s first win as a head coach came after an open date.
The Tigers won at Boston College, 27-21, that season.
“We are just doing a lot of studying on ourselves this week,” Swinney said.
That studying usually pays off for Clemson. Since 2012, the Tigers have compiled a 42-7 record after the bye week has come. That is an 86-percent win percentage.
In case you are wondering, Clemson, who lost at Syracuse last week, is 3-1 under Swinney after a bye week following a loss.
The Tigers (6-1, 4-1 ACC) don’t have to look too far to see where they need to improve on the offensive side of the ball.
“I think the big thing we all want to see are those deep balls down the field shots,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
So far, the Tigers have completed just 14 passes of 25 or more yards in its 219 passing attempts. That’s down from two years ago when they had 47 completions of 25 yards or more in 528 attempts and 41 from a year ago in 629 passes.
Scott believes some of that is on Clemson, but a lot has to do with the way teams are covering them.
“I think the reason you are seeing a lot of the soft coverage is because of Deon (Cain) and what he has shown on video and Ray-Ray (McCloud),” he said. “If you think back to earlier in the year, those guys had some nice deep balls down the field.
“There are teams that have chosen not to give us those balls and have made us have to stay patient and take the easy six and seven yards and those are the ones we are getting. But, there are certain times that we want to be able to find those deep shots and have a chance to throw the ball down the field, and that’s what we will continue to work on.”
Scott also wants to see the offense get better in certain third-down situations. The Tigers are just 22-of-37 on third down-and-three or less.
“Some of the third-and-shorts we have not gotten the success or hit the bar that we want to hit there,” the offensive coordinator said. “Then obviously, some of the third-and-long, then finding ways to push the ball down the field regardless of what people are trying to do us.
“We have to try and be creative and find some big shot opportunities.”
If history has taught us anything about the Clemson coaching staff, they will find a way to get it done.