Bowl Season

ACC vs. Big East Charlotte, N.C.
Bank of America Stadium
Dec. 31
FigureFour, of, a blog about Clemson sports, answered some questions about the Tigers.

BS: A lot more was expected in Clemson than a 6-6 season. What was the difference this year, compared to last year's 9-5 regular season?

FigureFour: CJ Spiller/Michael Palmer is the difference. Last season we were very fortunate to get a lot of return yards and touchdowns out of Spiller. We also fed him the ball and he made magic happen. I think we have a similar back in Ellington but we don’t feed him the ball. Palmer provided a “comfort blanket” for Kyle Parker last year. He knew he could throw the ball in MP’s direction and get a completion every time. Our defense has been jam up for the most part. We are not especially strong at LB and had a few secondary gaffs early/mid-season, but the guys up front are really good and Clemson’s defense has played well enough for the Tigers to win all the games we played to date.

To sum it up, we scored on special teams last season and set out offense up with great field position via Spiller/Ford returns. Clemson has not done a good job of scoring TD’s when in the red zone and we missed a lot of field goals despite good efforts each week out of our defense.

BS: The offense had a poor year, ranking only 86th in scoring in the country. What were the problems and please discuss the offense in general including QB Kyle Parker.

Figure Four:The problem is a philosophical problem. We want to play smash mouth then we want to turn into a 5-wide spread ‘em out and throw the ball team. Clemson has repeatedly had success running the ball with Ellington. Our staff did not correctly understand that basic zone running plays to Ellington would get us a ton of yards. Instead, we half try to establish the run then throw the ball all over the place. Our receivers, for lack of better words, sucked for the most part and dropped a lot of passes.

Again, to sum it up, we got away from our strengths (running Ellington) and could not execute throwing the ball.

Kyle Parker did not improve over last season. He still has accuracy problems. You cannot, however, solely blame KP when his receivers dropped a lot of passes. Dropped passes create uncertainty for a quarterback.


BS: The defense was great, ranking 9th in the country. What were the keys to success on that side of the ball including some standouts?

FigureFour:Clemson’s defensive line is outstanding. Da’Quan Bowers was a beast this year and Clemson was very successful at the line of scrimmage. Our secondary had a few early issues but came together late. DeAndre McDaniel had another good year, but make no mistake, this defense was fantastic because of our defensive line.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

FigureFour: I would like to see Kyle Parker have a big game. If KP has a big day (which has not happened this year), that means that our WR’s have a good day. Overall, I would like to see Coach Swinney have a good day and avoid meddling in spots he should stay our of.

Thanks a lot to FigureFour. Check him out at .



Ken DeCelles, of, was nice enough to answer some questions about South Florida.


BS: Skip Holtz's first year resulted in a 7-5 record. The Bulls were tough winning a lot of close games. How would you rate Skip's performance in year 1?

Ken DeCelles:
With the amount of people we lost to the NFL Draft and injuries, I'd give Skip a solid B+ this season. Skip knew in order to win, we'd have to grind out games on offense, watch our defense carry the team, and rely on our special teams to win.

He has shown that the staff can individually gameplan for each contest this year, which is something we hardly saw with Jim Leavitt. We will see if Holtz is as good as a recruiter as Leavitt, but I thing he's shown everyone at USF that they made the right decision in hiring him.

BS: The offense struggled, but that can be partially attributed to playing in the Big East, where defense is a priority. Bobby Eveld took over at quarterback for B.J. Daniels in the Miami game, and led them to victory. Who will get the start in the bowl game and who are some of the other key offensive personnel?

Ken DeCelles:
I think B.J. gets the start, just because he's healthy for the first time in two months. He is the superior talent to Eveld, and when he's on his game, he is amazing to watch.

We've had to focus on the running game this year, so lets take a look at running backs Demetris Murray and 6th year Senior RB Mo Plancher. After an injury plagued career up to this point, Mo looks like the guy we thought he would be when he first came to Tampa. He works for every yard, he has a spin move he will use a couple of times a game, and he is deceptively strong and will run you over if you aren't paying attention. Demetris is built in the same mold as Plancher, but he is a little quicker.

There were a couple of things that held the offense back this season. This is an entirely new offense that Holtz brought in, and it took B.J. a while to get comfortable. OC Todd Fitch did a great job adjusting the gameplan more to Daniels' strengths as the year went on.

We also saw our WR corps get decimated by injuries and attrition this offseason. First was our leading WR Carlton Mitchell leaving early for the NFL Draft. Then during our spring game, A.J. Love destroyed his ACL in the 4th quarter when he shouldn't have been out there. Our 3rd WR Sterling Griffin dislocated his ankle during voluntary summer workouts. There was a stat pulled up before the year that Dontavia Bogan was the only active USF receiver who had 50 receiving yards the year before. This forced us to use the running game more then we'd like.

BS: The defense was very good, giving up under 20 points a game. What is the reason for the success and who are the players to watch on the defensive unit?

Ken DeCelles: Our defense has done a fantastic job considering we lost 5 players to the NFL Draft last year. A big reason for our success has been up front, and they've been led by Seniors Terrell McClain and Craig Marshall. McClain is a big 6'3 290 DL who commands a double team on every snap. Marshall missed the 2nd part of the season due to a foot injury, but he is continuing a strong tradition of defensive ends here in Tampa.

CB Mistral Raymond is a fantastic story. Mistral walked onto the team three years ago, and was quickly named Sweetbay because former DB Coach Troy Douglas said,

"If he's in the game, there's a Sweetbay supermarket. I'm going to go over to that Sweetbay, get me some chips and a big old Diet Mountain Dew or something, go home and watch another game on TV, because that means that one's over."

After being a part time starter at safety last season, Mistral was moved to cornerback in the offseason and he hasn't looked back. He is very physical at the line of scrimmage, has good footwork, and he is rarely out of position which is amazing for someone moving to a new position. Mistral has gone from an unknown walk-on to team captain and a possible draft pick. Just a fantastic story, and I hope he does great at the next level.

BS: If you had to choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Ken DeCelles: I hope its B.J. Daniels. He will be healthy for the first time in months, and he was starting to grasp the offense when he was injured. He is an amazing athlete to watch in the open field, and he has one of the strongest arms in the country. In order to stay away from Da'Quan Bowers, Daniels will use his mobility to stay away from the All-American.


Thanks a lot to Ken DeCelles. Check him out at



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