Through the first half of the season, it seemed like the Clemson offense had taken a step back from their record-breaking 2015 performance. Because of poor execution and mental errors the Tigers suffered from an awful case of turnovers and were forced to rely heavily on their strong defense.
However, despite their turnover struggles have been able to produce a very prolific offense through the second half of the season. Since their week seven 24-17 victory over NC State, Clemson has scored at least 30 points in seven games where they have an average margin of victory of 28 points.
Head coach Dabo Swinney has co-coordinators, Jeff Scott and Tony Elliot, running the offense. The duo has been able to overcome the turnovers, and have come close to duplicating the historic run their offense produced last year.
Despite, finishing 117th out of 128 FBS-schools in turnovers lost, Elliot and Scott have Tigers ranked 12th in total offense. They are averaging 503 yards, the second straight year they have gained at least 500 yards a game.
A key to overcoming the turnovers to average 39.5 points per game, 12th in the country, as been the Clemson’s ability to convert on third down. The Tigers are ranked fifth in that category and are converting at a rate of 51.2 percent this season
The co-coordinators can institute the game plan, and make adjustments. It is how the players execute that game plan is what defines them
The offense ebbs and flows with its on-field leader, quarterback Deshaun Watson. The two-time Heisman candidate’s play is what determines the attack succeed or fails.
Watson was close to duplicating is historic 2015 season. Last year, Watson was the first player to pass for over 4,000 yards and run for over 1,000 yards. Moreover, added 47 total touchdowns and a passing efficiency of 67.8 percent. This season he threw for 4,173 yards and rushed for 586 yards, with 46 total touchdowns and a passing efficiency of 67.3 percent.
However, Watson was the principal culprit in the offense unfortunate knack for turning the ball over On the year the quarterback has thrown 17 interceptions and fumbled once.
Watson, not only has the ability overcome the mistakes, he has the weapons. The receiving corp is among the most feared position groups in college football, a trend in this National Championship game.
Mike Williams is at the head of an NFL caliber pack of pass catchers. On the year, Williams has pulled in 90 catches for 1,267 yards and ten touchdowns.
Joining Williams is fellow receivers Deion Cain and Artavis Scott on the outside. The two have combined for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Jordan Leggett provides Watson with another target that has NFL potential. The tight end has 641 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
The Tigers are not only prolific through the air, but their ground game provides balance. Along with Watson’s ability to run the ball, they have a wrecking ball of a running back in Wayne Gallman. On 214 carries, Gallman has rushed for 1,087 yards for 5.1 yards per carry. He also added 16 touchdowns for the Tigers.
Despite the eye-popping numbers, the Tigers offense clearly can be its worst enemy. Against the nation’s top scoring defense, Clemson will need more than just their arsenal of talent. Watson and company will need to be mistake free.
The College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Monday, January 9th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Check back tomorrow for a preview the Crimson Tide offense