Monday Morning Quarterback
Welcome back my old friend! It has been awhile since I have seen you.
Of course I’m talking about you, the tight end position … the missing piece in Clemson’s offensive attack. You finally made your presence known at Death Valley last Saturday after more than a year off. Five times in the second-ranked Tigers’ win over Georgia Southern, you found the football.
The five receptions are the most by the tight end position at Clemson in one game since Jordan Leggett caught seven in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
“We have always wanted to involve our tight end,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We like to get everybody involved. It is kind of week to week. It depends on how people are playing you and those types of things. Yesterday was just a day where the coverage kind of dictated that.”
Georgia Southern was playing two safeties high in coverage, which opened up the middle of the field. Quarterbacks Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence got the ball to Milan Richard twice for 26 yards, Braden Galloway once for 20, Cannon Smith for 17 and J.C. Chalk once for six yards.
In all, the tight ends caught five passes for 69 yards, all seemingly down the seam of the defense.
“I thought those guys did a good job. Milan had a couple of really nice catches,” Swinney said.
Swinney said getting the tight end involved was the result of actually running the ball against the Eagles. Clemson ran for 309 yards and had an average of 6.7 yards per rush.
“If you go back and look at it, most of those were play action,” Swinney said. “It really goes back to our ability to run the football on these teams that want to play coverage against us. The teams that line up and want to bring pressure and play one safety stuff, then you are going to get a lot of matchup things.
“We like that, too. But, when you are playing teams that are trying to stop you and play coverage, you have to be able to run the ball. And with that you protect those runs with your play action and that’s what that was a function of yesterday.”
Georgia Southern was committed not to let Clemson catch the deep pass. So, the Tigers took what was given to them. They middle of the field was wide open and the Tigers made them pay by throwing the ball to the tight ends.
“They were committed to playing a two-high type of scheme and we were able to hurt them running the ball, which set up the play action and we had two, three of four to the tight ends that were a direct result of that,” Swinney said.
How about five Coach Swinney? You threw the football to the tight end five times, and all five times they caught the football.
It sure was good to see the pass to the tight end back in Clemson’s offense. Everyone missed you.