In 2016, Clemson ranked 22nd nationally in sacks allowed per game at 1.33. Overall, the Tigers gave up just 20 sacks as it went on to win the 2016 National Championship.
Last year, Clemson played one less game and gave up 11 more sacks, including five in a loss to Alabama in the 2018 Sugar Bowl. The 31 sacks allowed ranked 92 nationally, while its 2.21 allowed per game was not much better at 74.
It was a significant drop, one head coach Dabo Swinney feels has to get better this season.
“We want to do a better job of taking care of our quarterbacks,” he said. “We did a great job the year before and last year we took too many sacks.”
Swinney would not blame it all on the offensive line. In fact, he said the offensive line did not give up a lot of the sacks. Instead he put the onus on other position groups … quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers.
“The offensive line did not give up a whole lot of sacks,” he said. “We had a couple of position groups that let us down and Kelly took too many sacks.”
Clemson also gave up a lot of tackles behind the line of scrimmage compared to 2016.
In ’16, the Tigers ranked 26 nationally in tackles for loss allowed at 5.0 per game. Las year, they dropped to 42nd, allowing 5.5 per game.
“That’s an area we need to improve on. There were too many negative yards with sacks and tackles for loss,” Swinney said.
Clemson did improve on taking care of the football in 2017, finishing 43rd in turnover margin and 34th in turnovers lost with 16. In 2016, the Tigers lost the football due to turnover 28 times, which ranked 121st in the country. Last year, they ranked 71st in turnover margin.
“We did a nice job of taking care of the ball last year. We improved in that area,” Swinney said. “I would love to see us get back to being a little more consistent with some of our explosive plays and a combination of where we were last year personnel wise and maturity wise and experience wise. There was a lot of starting over last year so those are things I would like to see.”
Clemson will begin working on those things in earnest on Friday when they begin fall camp for the 2018 football season.
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