Clemson is using its bye week not only to get a head start on Georgia Tech prep, but also to reflect on what has and has not worked through the first seven weeks of the season.
Clemson is averaging 33.4 points, down from the 39.2 points it averaged in 2016, and the Tigers are putting up about 451 yards of offense per game after totaling 504 a year ago.
Jeff Scott, Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator, said the offense will spend the next several days identifying strengths and working to improve weaknesses.
“We spent all day yesterday, really, just studying the Syracuse game, and today through Thursday doing a really good seven-game self scout,” Scott told reporters Tuesday. “Obviously, certain third-down situations and some of the third and shorts we haven’t gotten the success or hit the bar that we want to hit there and some of the third and longs and finding a way to push the ball down the field, regardless of what people are trying to do to us and trying to be creative and find some shot opportunities.”
The deep ball in particular has been an area where Clemson has yet to find much success.
Clemson’s longest pass play in its 27-24 loss to Syracuse last Friday was a 24-yard completion to tight end Milan Richard.
The play was the only pass play of more than 15 yards the entire game.
“We haven’t really gotten a lot of man coverage in those last two games,” Scott said. “We as coaches have to find some opportunities, and the other thing is just being patient and taking what they can give you and that can be frustrating because you want to throw the ball down field, but you’ve got to be smart at times as well.”
Junior receiver Deon Cain was expected to be Clemson’s deep threat, but through seven games has totaled only 24 catches for 299 yards. He is averaging 12.5 yards per reception after averaging 19.1 in 2016 and 17.1 in 2015.
“I think the biggest thing we all want to see is the deep ball down the field. I think you’re seeing a lot of the soft coverage because of Deon and what he’s shown on video and Ray-Ray (McCloud),” Scott said. “I think earlier in the year those guys had some nice deep balls down the field and teams have chosen not to give us those balls and stay patient and take the easy six-seven yards and those are the ones we’re getting, and there’s certain times where we want to find those deep shots to throw the ball down the field and that’s what we’ll continue to work on.”