By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
Over the past couple of weeks, we have analyzed the personnel at the disposal of both Clemson and Georgia at each position on the football field. During this series, a major part of the analysis involved looking closely at the ways in which each coaching staff will utilize the players on the field when the teams meet to kick off the 2013 college football season.
Often the battles between coaches within games are seen as scheme against scheme, brain against brain. But any comparison of personnel not including a breakdown of how those players will be used against another person is incomplete. If the best 15 players in the country were on the same team, they would only look like the best players if scheme and skill sets matched.
Georgia has a traditional run-first, pro-style offensive system. The Bulldogs frequently use two backs and a tight end, and much of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s playcalling is about setting up playaction passing with a tough running game.
Defensively, the Bulldogs have a well-respected defensive coordinator in Todd Grantham who is still attempting to craft a 3-4 defense in his image. After two seasons of solid play, Georgia suffered significant personnel losses all over the defense after last season, which means the ability for Grantham to prepare the next wave of talented ballplayers will be paramount.
Clemson’s cutting edge offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, has many of his weapons back this season. His strength is using misdirection to confuse defenses while he runs a simple set of plays, which only makes matters worse for anyone trying to stop Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.
On the other side of the ball, the Tiger defense will be in year two under Brent Venables’ leadership. Venables wants to be an attacking, downhill unit that is technically proficient and fundamentally sound, which has been easier said than done with the vast array of young players he is tasked with developing.
All four coordinators are tremendously gifted, and all four have been successful at a variety of levels in unique ways. As far as coordinators go, this matchup is basically a wash.
Looking at the rest of each staff, the Bulldogs and Tigers both employ talented coaches who can both recruit and coach their respective positions. Without getting into a ton of specifics—doing so would make this piece unbearably long—Clemson’s staff seems to have a slight edge overall. The track records and pedigrees of Dabo Swinney’s assistants are all high in quality. This is not an affront to the Bulldogs, but with two of the top coordinators in the country—both hot names—and a mixture of experience and youth, the Tigers seem to have a more well-rounded pool of assistants.
This leads into how the head coaches stack up against one another. Both have some fairly basic strengths and weaknesses. Swinney is a master motivator, while Richt is a quiet guy. Richt has a track record of success at the highest level, while Swinney is still trying to push Clemson football up the ladder into the nation’s elite. Both men are outspoken about faith and have successfully branded their respective programs as family-oriented.
One major difference comes within a gray area of perception that may or may not be actually true. Swinney has demonstrated an ability to be flexible and modern in his approach. Richt, on the other hand, still runs a conservative, ball-control offense and has resisted making drastic changes in his team’s philosophy there.
The Bottom Line: Looking at the way the coaches will approach this particular game, many things should be the same. The advantage will ultimately go to the head coach whose team is more prepared and more disciplined, which is often the case at the beginning of any season. For this reason, and because there is general confidence surrounding both sides of the ball for the first time in a long while, I will take Clemson in the coaching department.