WHAT WE ARE HEARING: PREVIEW & PREDICTION FOR NO.4 CLEMSON vs. LA TECH
- 2022-09-17 15:16:18
Welcome to another edition of What We Are Hearing!
I begin on a somber note, as you are all aware by now, I’m sure, that Bryan Bresee’s little sister, Ella, succumbed to her fight with brain cancer and passed away on Thursday morning. It’s a sad loss for the entire Clemson Family, but it’s obviously devastating to the Bryan and his family. Ella visited the team last week and was supposed to attend the home opener as an honorary captain, but she had to be flown to DC at the last minute to be treated at the hospital. The entire team had really embraced Ella and feel an emotional attachment to her, as DJ told me on Monday, so they will all be playing with a heavy heart on Saturday night. Obviously, Bryan will not be playing. Dabo told me that her funeral will be on Tuesday, presumably in Maryland where the Bresees live. Many of you have seen the post going around inviting Clemson fans to wear grey as a show of love and support for Ella and the Bresee family. The post was created by Barstool, a social media fan site. It did not come from Clemson or the Bresee family, although Bryan has retweeted it, and why wouldn’t he? While I like the idea, I would have liked it a lot more if it came from Clemson and not a social media site exploiting a little girl’s death to promote their site or increase their views. I posted my condolences and request for prayers after Ella died, but I did not include a link to CUTigers.com like I do on every other social media post I make because I don’t believe it's right to use such a tragedy for self-promotion. Barstool could have easily contacted Clemson non-publicly with a suggestion to have the fans wear grey instead of posting it themselves. They even put their logo on the post so people would know it came from them! In my opinion, it was extremely unscrupulous and entirely selfishly motivated, but that’s the world we live in now. There are very few in the media with any scruples, ethics or convictions. It’s all about views and clicks. I apologize for the rant, and if you would like to wear grey in honor of Ella, by all means do so. I just wish the university had been given the chance to organize the initiative instead of Barstool spontaneously anointing themselves spokespersons for Clemson. I was planning on wearing my grey pullover anyway because it’s going to be chilly at night, but I would wear black or green if Clemson or the Bresee family asked us to. As I posted on Thursday, I rejoice for little Ella because she is in Heaven now and no longer in pain, but I’m sad for her family and all of those down here who will deeply miss her presence. I have no doubt she will be in Memorial Stadium on Saturday night and watching her brother and the Tigers from above for the rest of the season! Please continue to keep Ella and the Bresee family in your prayers.
Moving on to some less tearful news, the Tigers’ top ranked men’s soccer team suffered its first loss of the season on Friday night against No.16 Syracuse at Historic Riggs Field. I was the only member of the Clemson media, outside of the school newspaper, on hand for the 2-1 loss, and you can watch my exclusive one-on-one post-game interview with Mike Noon HERE. The Tigers were shorthanded with 3 starters out, including All-ACC defender Hamady Diop and ACC point leader Ousmane Sylla. They need to get healthy and bounce back quickly because they host PC on Monday and then No.2 Wake next Saturday!
On to Saturday night’s big game against Louisiana Tech….
Clemson leads the all-time series with LA Tech 3-0. The first meeting was in the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho… The Tigers have won 35 straight games in Death Valley, the longest active home win streak in the nation. No member of this Clemson team has lost a home game. The streak is tied with Boise State for the 14th longest streak all-time. The longest streak by an ACC school is 37 by FSU. Clemson is 54-1 at home in the CFP era, also the best such record in the nation….The Tigers have won 25 straight home games against non-conference opponents. The last such loss was to South Carolina in 2012….The Tigers have won 19 straight home openers, their longest streak in program history, last losing to UGA in 2003….Clemson is 38-0 all-time against FCS opponents since the classification began….The Tigers have won 61 straight games when leading at halftime…Dabo won his 152nd game last week. He took the sixth-fewest games (186) to reach 150 wins. Urban Meyer holds the record at 176 games, followed by Barry Switzer, Gil Dobie, Fielding Yost and Joe Paterno. Switzer and Paterno are the only ones who, like Dabo, won all 150 games at one school…. Clemson has the second-most wins and second-best win percentage since 2015 behind Alabama. The Tigers are 91-10 over that period while Alabama is 94-8. Ohio State is 3rd with a record of 81-10 since 2015. Clemson is also 2nd in wins since 2011 with a record of 133-21. Alabama is 142-14 and Ohio State is 125-20….Clemson holds the all-time record for most wins over a 5-year span with 69 from 2015-2019….Dabo Swinney has the best active win percentage in the nation (minimum 10 years) at .809. Nick Saban is second at .801 and Jimbo Fisher is third at .756….Dabo is currently 12th on the all-time win percentage list but climbing quickly....Dabo’s 152 wins are already the third-most of any coach in his first 15 seasons, but Dabo is only in his 14th full season. By the end of the 2023 season, Dabo should topple Urban Meyer’s record of 165 wins in his first 15 seasons….Dabo has the most active wins (152) that are all with one school. Mike Gundy is 2nd with 151 at Oklahoma State. Dabo is now tied with Mike Leach on the active win list….With a win in the Cheez-It Bowl over Iowa State last season, Dabo tied Bobby Bowden for most bowl wins (11) by any ACC coach in history….
LA TECH SYNOPSIS
The Bulldogs come into Death Valley with a 1-1 record. They lost their opener at Missouri 52-24 but bounced back with a 52-17 win over Stephen F. Austin last week. New Head Coach Sonny Cumbie is a disciple of Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, so the Tigers’ defense will see receivers spread all over the field and plenty of passing. Cumbie played quarterback for Leach at Texas Tech before a brief career in the NFL, and he got his coaching start for Leach as a GA at his alma mater. He was the offensive coordinator for a prolific TCU offense before returning to Texas Tech, where he was the interim head coach last season. In the loss at Mizzou, the Bulldogs rushed for just 8 yards net and no scores, but they passed for 336 with 3 touchdowns. They actually played two quarterbacks in that game. The starter, redshirt junior Matthew Downing (#7) is a native of Alpharetta, GA, who played for UGA briefly and transferred to TCU before transferring again to LA Tech. I guess he likes the Bulldog mascot! Downing was 20-35 for 194 yards and a TD at Mizzou, but he also threw 3 interceptions and didn’t run the ball effectively, so he was replaced by Parker McNeil (#17), another transfer who made stops at Troy and Texas Tech, where he played for Cumbie last season. McNeil was 7-11 for 142 yards and 2 TD’s with no interceptions, and that earned him the start against Stephen F. Austin (his hometown team) last week. He was 11-23 for 197 yards and 3 touchdowns in that game with one interception. The Bulldogs also ran the ball much better (as you would expect) at home against SFA, rushing for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. McNeil is not a running quarterback, however. Redshirt freshman Marquis Crosby (#33) did most of the damage on the ground. The 5’10, 201-pound RB averaging 12.3 yards per carry for 197 yards and 2 TD’s. 5’10, 206-pound sophomore Charvis Thornton (#22) averaged 6.2 yards on 10 carries and also scored. Tre (#3) and Smoke (#6) Harris each had a TD catch last week, and the former had a 40-yard play. Tre is 6’2 and 204 pounds, while the speedy, diminutive Smoke is 5’7 and 188. Griffin Hebert (#5), a 6’3 senior tight end, also scored in the passing game with a 63-yard catch. He also had a 75-yard catch and score at Mizzou in the opener, so he’s a big play tight end! At 5’11 and 177 pounds, freshman WR Cyrus Allen (#85) had a big game at Mizzou with 5 catches for 121 yards and 2 scores, but he had just one target and no catches last week.
The defense for LA Tech is still a work in progress, giving up 558 total yards against Missouri and 52 points. Defensive Coordinator David Blackwell loves to be aggressive, especially up front, but it’s a gamble that didn’t pay off against Mizzou. If you recognize the name, by the way, that’s because Blackwell, a native of Greenville, was the Tigers’ LB Coach from 2003 to 2008 under Tommy Bowden.
The Tigers are in good health, but hey may be missing 3 starters on the defensive line on Saturday night. As previously noted, Bresee will miss the game due to his sister’s passing on Thursday, while DT Tyler Davis and DE Xavier Thomas will be game-time decisions. They could probably both play if really needed, but it will come down to whether Dabo wants to rest one or both for another week before a big road game at No.18 Wake next week. The good news is that we will get to see the debut of freshman WR Adam Randall (#8)! Randall was having a fantastic spring before tearing his ACL and has recovered remarkably fast. He is a big, physical and fast receiver and should make an instant impact as a freshman this season. Dabo told us on Wednesday that he will have Randall on a “pitch count,” so he won’t play a lot, but they wanted to get him some live action before going on the road next week. He is probably the fastest player on the team, and perhaps he will be that downfield threat that the Tigers have been lacking since players like Tee Higgins and Mike Williams.
I can’t wait to see how DJ follows up his performance last week against Furman, which was his best game since his freshman year. He completed 21 of his 27 attempts despite 3 drops by the receivers, and he made some excellent runs as well. A few of his passes were next-level throws, like the TD pass in the corner of the end zone to Beaux on the scramble drill and the completions to Davis Allen and Antonio Williams in the middle of the field. DJ’s accuracy is far better and more consistent than it was at this time last year, and the game appears to be slowing down for him. He is also more of a threat to run after losing all that weight in the offseason. Some in the national media have questioned whether the Clemson offense is much better than last year, but they aren’t paying attention. The Tigers have averaged 35 points per game over their last 8 games. They averaged just 19 points per game over their first 6 last season. The Tigers’ offense scored 27 unanswered points in the first half of the opener and scored 28 points in the first half last week. Let’s see if they can put it together for an entire game!
Cumbie’s Air Raid offense will be a challenge for Wes Goodwin and the Tigers’ back seven. They gave up a ton of yards on screen plays to Furman last week, and you can expect a heavy dose of screens from the Bulldogs as well. Despite stiffening in the red zone and only allowing 12 points last week, I could tell after the game that the defensive players were disappointed in their effort and how many yards they gave up between the 20’s. They also could not get Furman off the field, allowing conversions on 10 of 18 attempts. That is highly uncharacteristic of the Clemson defense we’ve seen for the last decade, and I expect them to play with an edge on Saturday night to redeem themselves. I think they will also be dedicating the game to Ella Bresee and wanting to make her and their brother, Bryan, proud. It should be an electric atmosphere in Death Valley with the brand new LED light show. They will have spotlights on Howard’s Rock and The Hill as the team makes its famous entrance, and there will be all kinds of other light features throughout the game. I can’t wait to see it!
I think the Tigers will put together their first complete game of the season as they get ready for a critical road game at No.18 Wake Forest. Make it 36 straight home wins to extend the longest active streak in the nation!
The Prowl toward a 7th College Football Playoff and 4th National Title continues....
CLEMSON 55 LA Tech 10
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