Chain Gang Endurance; Stay Ahead and Keep Them Moving

by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP

CLEMSON, SC -- The Tigers had their best offensive performance of the season on Saturday vs Boston College. It was also by far their best outing in terms of staying ahead of the chains. But Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott still thinks there is still plenty to improve upon.


Boston College got the best of the Tigers' offense in their 59-7 drubbing on Saturday night. The numbers from the game would back that up.


Clemson scored on it's first six offensive possessions of the game and put up over 300 yards both on the ground and through the air. They had 27 plays go for 10 or more yards and accumulated 36 first downs.


"I wanted to give them a plan that was aggressive. Give them a chance to come out swinging," Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told the media after the game.


"The biggest challenge for us was to stay out of long yardage situations. If we can stay efficient and put together good plays on first and second down and stay out of third and long...that's where [Boston College] really have the advantage because of the exotic fronts and some of the coverages they do."

Efficient doesn't begin to describe how successful Clemson was on first down vs the Eagles. The Tigers ran 42 first down plays and amassed 391 yards -- an average of 9.31 yards per first down play.


"I think what you're seeing is the chemistry starting to really, really flow and the guys have learned how to block out distractions and just focus on what has made us great as a program and that's doing the little things better than everybody else," Elliott continued.


They scored FIVE touchdowns on first down plays, had 15 plays go for 10 or more yards, and had only THREE plays go for negative yardage. Staying ahead of the chains was no issue for Clemson.


"We really wanted to stay ahead of the chains....and we felt like we could stay efficient and the way to stay efficient is to run the ball effectively. And then to also take advantage of the short and intermediate gains so that you can keep the chains moving."

I announced the first down stats to Coach Elliott and proceeded to ask how pleased he was with that kind of performance and where there may still be room for improvement.


"The good thing is we're gonna have film," Elliott started to say. "It's never as good or it's never as bad as you think. So there's gonna be opportunities. I know there was some runs where the backs cut it back a little bit too early. We were trying to create some single blocks up front that the offensive line were gonna need some help with the back's discipline...so there's gonna be some things that I can work on."


"There's going to be a lot of things that we can continue to challenge our guys with overall. My message right before we left the hotel, in the last meeting with the guys is who cares what people are saying? But if you want the respect that you feel like you deserve, man go out and earn it."


"Give them something positive to talk about and the way that you do that is to come out and play a clean first half and then continue to strive for excellence in the second half."


"The biggest thing for us right now is just challenging our guys to not get complacent. Don't be satisfied because we still haven't played our best game yet."

With the offensive output the Tigers had on Saturday night, the fact that the coaches and players believe they still haven't played their best game yet should scare people.


Overall on the season so far, Clemson has ran 274 first down plays (not including QB kneels or plays called back be penalty) for 2,082 yards -- averaging 7.60 yards per play. They have scored 13 touchdowns, had 67 plays go for 10 or more yards, 17 plays that resulted in negative yardage, and turned the ball over twice.


Travis Etienne is the most efficient first down option for the Tigers so far. He is currently averaging 8.80 yards per first down play where he touches the ball; 69 carries for 585 yards, FOUR receptions for 43 yards, and he is 1/1 passing for 23 yards. He has FIVE first down touchdowns, responsible for 19 plays of 10+ yards, FOUR plays that accounted for negative yardage and has not turned the ball over.


Coach Elliott, Coach Scott, and the Tigers will look to build off of this game as they get set to host the Wofford Terriers on Saturday at 4:00 in Death Valley.


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