Staying Ahead of the Chains vs Boston College

by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP

CLEMSON, SC -- It's homecoming weekend in Tiger Town as the the undefeated, reigning champion Clemson Tigers get to set to host Boston College. With the potential for rain in the forecast, Clemson's ability to stay ahead of the chains may be more prominent to their offensive success.


Co-Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has been the biggest proponent and talking head when it comes to staying ahead of the chains. I've charted and tracked every play Clemson has ran on first downs (not including QB kneels or plays called back by penalty) this season. Let's take a look at Clemson's First Down Efficiency numbers to see how they stack up so far this season.

Through seven games, Clemson is averaging 7.29 yards per first down play (232 plays run - 1691 yards gained); 737 yards through the air and 954 yards on the ground. They have scored EIGHT touchdowns, generated 52 explosive plays (plays of 10+ yards), had 14 plays go for negative yardage, and turned the ball over TWO times.


Boston College, defensively, has allowed 5.04 yards per first down play (220 plays, 1108 yards). They have conceded SIX touchdowns, 41 explosive plays, created 26 negative yardage plays, and forced THREE turnovers.

To break it down even further, the Eagles' defense is allowing an explosive play every 5.5 first downs plays and setting teams back with tackles for loss on every 8.5 first down plays.


Clemson's explosive play rate on first downs is 22.4% (10+ yards gained every 4.5 first down plays). Their negative play rate is much lower at just 6.03% (negative yards every 16.6 first down plays).


Boston College has performed pretty well overall on first downs defensively against their prior seven opponents but they are also susceptible to giving up big plays and the Clemson offense thrives on explosiveness. If the weather is wet, running the ball will become a bigger factor in the game and will make the ability to stay ahead of the chains all the more important.


The Tigers backfield is fully stocked and the offensive line is anxiously awaiting the chance to demolish opposing defenders in run blocking. Boston College will make some plays defensively, but Clemson's offense should have a fairly successful day moving the ball and staying ahead of the chains.


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