What We Learned: Week 6

Dabo is sensitive about Clemsoning.  Clemson beat unranked Georgia Tech 43-24 Saturday.  Had they lost the game, it would have been classic Clemsoning, but they didn’t.  A reporter asked Coach Swinney after the game about Clemsoning.  He wanted to know if the team was focused on one game at a time or do they not even think about it.  Dabo ranted.

He called it “that word”.  He repeatedly called it “bull crap” and implied that it was nothing more than a media construct.  Swinney found it ridiculous that he was even asked the question.  You should watch it if you haven’t seen it.

Dabo used to be better with the media.  Remember when Todd Ellis, the Gamecock play by play announcer, said that South Carolina sure isn’t Clemson after USC beat them?  Dabo then had someone ask him about it after practice (mis-attributing it to Steve Spurrier), and he ranted.  It was great use of media.  The story after the ball game was South Carolina beat Clemson convincingly.  After Dabo was through with it, the story was Clemson may have lost, but look at that program.  For whatever else that rant was, it was smart.

2000px-Clemson_University_Tiger_Paw_logo.svgThis rant doesn’t appear so smart.  Perhaps it’s because it wasn’t scripted or perhaps it was just venting, but it wasn’t wise.  First, Dabo made a bigger deal out of the question than he should have.  A simple, it’s important to focus on all games, every week or you’ll lose would have probably ended a non-story.  Second, it’s a gamble.  If Clemson loses to an unranked opponent this year or in a game where they are favored the term will come up again, along with the rest.  Dabo should prepare to go undefeated against unranked teams or for follow up questions.

Dabo’s ire was misplaced; the question was fair.  Clemson lost lots go games they shouldn’t when their hype train was rolling.  They’re not doing that much anymore, has something changed?  Coach Swinney wants to wish those days away, and for that you can’t blame him, but there is serious history here that will take a few more seasons to end.  Recall:

  • 2006.  #10 Clemson 7-1, a 5 point favorite lost to unranked Virginia Tech 24-7.
  • 2006.  #19 Clemson, 7-2, a 19 point favorite lost to unranked Maryland 13-12.
  • 2007.  #13 Clemson, 4-0, a 3 point favorite lost to unranked Georgia Tech 13-3.
  • 2008.  #20 Clemson, 3-1, an 11 point favorite lost to unranked Maryland 20-17.
  • 2011.  #6 Clemson, 8-0, a 3 point favorite lost to unranked Georgia Tech 31-17.
  • 2011.  #7 Clemson, 9-1, a 7 point favorite lost to unranked NC State 37-13.

That was a pattern.  It was; it hasn’t happened since, but you can’t tell people not to talk about it.  The longer Clemson goes without repeating those losses, the more Clemsoning will fade into memory, unless Dabo continues to make memorable rant videos to stoke the fire.

A competent offense makes Florida look good.  How would the Will Florida_Gators_logo.svgMuschamp era have looked with a competent offense?  We’ll never know for sure, but it would probably look a lot like this year’s Gators team.  The offense isn’t going to be confused for Baylor’s, but it not only appears to be good enough; it appears to be improving.

After putting up on 14 points on Kentucky, Florida scored 28 against Tennessee and 38 against Ole Miss.  21 on the road at Missouri doesn’t jump off the stat sheet, but Missouri’s defense isn’t bad at all, and Florida could afford to play conservatively knowing their defense would hold true freshman Drew Lock in check.

Of course that improvement was before Monday’s suspension of Will Grier.  if the UF offense can remain competent, and I think it can, Jim McElwain should be the SEC coach of the year.

On the other side, the aforementioned Florida defense continues to impress.  They allowed 9, 27, 10 and 3 in conference play.  The 27 against Tennessee looks better in comparison to the 38 Georgia gave up to the Volunteers.  Florida plays at LSU this weekend then takes a week off before the Cocktail party.  11-1 is a real possibility for this team, and they will finish no worse than 9-3.

UT_Volunteers_logo.svgAll’s well in Knoxville.  The Volunteers got the big win they needed against Georgia.  They now sit a disappointing 3-3, but they only have one more game on the schedule they’ll lose, that being Alabama.  After that, Tennessee should win it’s last five games to finish 8-4.  That’s not as great as they were expecting following last season, but it should be just fine.  The Butch Jones era, which was being questioned as little as 7 days ago, continues to move forward, and if the continue to recruit the way they have, Tennessee will, in deed, be back.

Ohio State isn’t alone anymore.  Do the Buckeyes resemble anyone more 2013_Ohio_State_Buckeyes_logo.svgthan last year’s Florida State team?  They continue to win their games in ugly fashion against inferior opponents.  While the 2014 Noles didn’t have much competition outside of Clemson, this year’s Ohio State team will have plenty from the state of Michigan.

Even though the Spartans didn’t look especially capable last week against Rutgers, they’ll pose a big test in November.  Ohio State matches up well with Michigan State, but that game will be a true test they cannot walk through.  A week later Ohio State heads to the Big House to face a really good Michigan Defense.  It’s not a given that Ohio State will be representing the East this year.  Who would have thought we’d be saying that at any point this season?

About Billy Koehler

Billy Koehler is the founder of ThirdDownDraw.com and a contributing writer at DixielandSports.com. He has been covering college football since 2006. You can follow him on twitter @billykoehler.
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