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Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs Clemson - More on Tiger Defensive Stats

Consider this a follow -up to yesterday's article about Clemson's defense and the fact that they haven't faced an offense no where as good as our Huskers this season.

It's difficult to measure how good a defense is across conferences and without looking further it leads to the types of comments such as left by site member Teamster

The Clemson blogs have been saying in recent weeks that the Big12 doesn’t play good defense. That’s why they score so much on each other. Their argument is that the ACC has more defensive speed. And that the Big12 teams can’t score at will on the ACC.

Comments like this are what make the bowl games so interesting, even in in the minor bowls. You find teams playing each other that would never schedule each other during the regular season, i.e., the upcoming Gator Bowl marks only the second time Nebraska and Clemson will have played each other. The key here is you don't know what's going to happen until the teams are on the field.

Back to the statistics, as I stated, Clemson hasn't faced an offense as good as Nebraska's all season. I wondered if we could learn anymore about their defense by looking at what they did against their own conference and their own schedule.

What we have here is how the Tigers did against the offenses they faced, looking at whether or not they held their own opponents under their season averages for rushing and passing:

Opponent Rushing Avg YPG vs. Clemson Difference
Alabama 196.46 239 +43
NC State 125.50 136 +10
Maryland 134.50 123 -11
Wake Forest 121.38 156 +35
Georgia Tech 282.33 207 -75
Boston College 143 120 -23
Florida State 179.08 266 +87
Duke 106.17 83 -23
Virginia 96.58 30 -66
South Carolina 98.33 92 -6



Opponent Passing Avg YPG vs. Clemson Difference
Alabama 170.69 180 +10
NC State 200.83 152 -49
Maryland 207.42 173 -34
Wake Forest 186.92 186 -1
Georgia Tech 95 91 -4
Boston College 175.46 116 -59
Florida State 192.77 153 -40
Duke 196.67 85 -112
Virginia 203.17 160 -43
South Carolina 218.50 212 -7


What we see here is a Tiger defense that consistently held their opponents under their season average in the passing game.

Some other things to chew on:

- Clemson's defensive coordinator - Vic Koenning - resigned (or got fired or asked to leave, however you want to look at it), so the Tigers enter the Gator Bowl apparently with Dabo Swinney acting as DC. Keep that in mind.

- Most of the ACC runs a pro-style type offense, with the exception of Georgia Tech who runs the triple option, and Florida State, who runs elements of the spread and zone read. Wake Forest tends to run more misdirection than most teams.

- At the beginning of the season, the key word about Nebraska's offense was "multiple', and we've utilized that pretty well this season. Nebraska can run a huge variety of plays and formations -wide receiver screens, the zone read or the speed option out of the shotgun, middle screens, and if all those don't work, we still have Joker and Ducky.

- The bottom line is that Clemson comes into this game needing a game plan to stop our offense, an offense unlike anything they've seen this season. Their defensive coordinator is gone. You think their new head coach Dabo Swinney might be stretched a bit thin? You think he's going to have enough time to get his staff together, get his team together for a bowl game, and then figure out how to stop a multiple-based offense?