Monday Morning Quarterback
Clemson’s open date came at a great time.
The Tigers are reeling at the moment. Last week, Clemson had 21 players on its injured list. That’s right, 21.
Head coach Dabo Swinney expects most of those on the injured list to be back this week when the Tigers visit Syracuse Friday night for a seven o’clock kick at the Carrier Dome.
There are fans, and media, out there who will be interested to see which Clemson team shows up after having a week off.
Will it be the one everyone expected at the start of the season when they were the preseason No. 2 ranked team? Or will it be the team that showed no signs of offensive life in losses to now top-ranked Georgia and No. 22 NC State?
But history tells me, the Tigers (3-2 2-1 ACC) are going to be just fine on Friday night.
It seems when Clemson is coming off a bye week, it generally gets things corrected, especially when it comes later in the season.
The Tigers are 14-2 under Swinney coming off an open date, including 11-0 when their off week comes after the fifth game. Clemson has won eight straight games following an open date, which dates back to a 23-17 overtime loss at Florida State in Week 4 of the 2014 season.
I know, what does this have to do with this year’s team?
However, it does show Swinney and his coaching staff have a proven track record of making good use of an open date.
One way they do it is through self-scouting. During the off week, the offensive coaches review the defensive tapes, while the defensive coaches return the favor. They then go over their findings and apply those observations in practice.
The end result is a 14-2 record in which the Tigers have outscored their opponents 551-314. That is an average margin of victory of 14.8 points per game.
Clemson is averaging 34.4 points per game following a bye, while yielding just 19.6.
The number one goal for the Tigers coming off this year’s open date is to show they can be more consistent on offense. The good news is they started to show some improvement in the Tigers’ 19-13 victory over Boston College on Oct 2.
The Tigers rushed for 231 yards against a BC team that was giving up 98.0 yards per game on the ground coming in. Clemson finished the night with 438 yards overall.
However, there were still some bad throws by quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and dropped passes by his wide receivers. But those are things that can be cleaned up.
And if there is one thing I have learned from covering Dabo Swinney’s football teams the last 14 years, they most always play well coming off a break in the regular season, especially when that break occurs after Week 5.
Clemson following an open date under Dabo Swinney
2008: at Boston College (W), 27-21
2009: vs. Wake Forest (W), 38-3
2010: vs. Miami (L), 21-30
2011: vs. Wake Forest (W), 31-28
2012: vs. Virginia Tech (W), 38-17
2013: at NC State (W), 26-14
2013: vs. Georgia Tech (W), 55-31
2014: at Florida State (L), 23-17 (OT)
2014: at Wake Forest (W), 34-20
2015: vs. Notre Dame (W), 24-22
2016: at Florida State (W), 37-34
2017: vs. Georgia Tech (W), 24-10
2018: vs. NC State (W) 41-7
2019: vs. Florida State (W), 45-14
2020: vs. Virginia (W), 41-23
2020: vs. Pitt (W), 52-17
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