Seminole Slant: Clemson Coaching Changes

A few weeks ago I covered UF's moves.  Today is a look at what Clemson has done.  I consider Clemson to be Florida State's third-biggest rival. The Tigers are the only program in the division capable of giving FSU any resistance for the Atlantic crown when the 'Noles have their act together as a program.

Let's start with an article by out friends at STS before the coaching hires were made, but after the firing of OC Billy Napier.  I strongly encourage you to read all of these in the entirety.  I have only sampled a relevant portion.  

Thoughts on Napier, Powell, and Chad Morris - Shakin The Southland

The other is that the Coach must have a philosophical continuity with his staff, or at least let them coach what they know best. Swinney wants a blitzing pressure defense, and got Steele for that reason. He wanted to throw the ball around, and promoted a guy who would prefer to run the ball and use play-action. He let him do that post-Maryland last year and then changed it all up this year. Wrong move. In his next hire, he must pick a guy who he agrees with philosophically, and then let him do his job. If he then meddles and sticks in some stupid reverse or flea-flicker with a guy who doesn't like teaching such gimmicks, it'll crash and burn once again. I'll guarantee that.
That is one reason why I don't think Ralph Friedgen is really a candidate, though he really wants this job. Friedgen is pro-style, with great experience running offenses. Dabo wants none of that.
Dabo also isn't going to hire anyone who is a threat to him. An established coach can hire former head coaches to his staff easily. Bobby Williams works for Saban, who followed him at Michigan State. Mike Archer (LSU) works for Tom O'Brien. Galen Hall (Florida) works for Joe Pa. That doesn't work so well for a younger guy who is fighting to keep his job. Rich Rodriguez is relatively young, has great experience as an OC and HC, and can recruit, so he's a definite no. Fridge will run an NFL-style system, was just Coach of the Year, and will want full control of the offense as well, so he's a definite no.  
Dabo isn't going to hire an older established guy who will tell him to shut the hell up when Dabo calls a single Pistol play that was repped 10x in practice all year. He wants control of the offensive side. If he hired either RF or RR, they'd quit in a year.
So that means you're going to get a relatively younger coach without a ton of experience to outshine Dabo's lack thereof. I think the hiring of inexperienced (or just plain bad, in Powell's case) staff members is what got us into this whole mess in the first place, but thats what we'll get.

Clemson hired Chad Morris of Tulsa.  He runs the Gus Malzahan offense.  That will present some unique challenges to FSU's defense.  This is a pace offense that looks to run 80 plays per game.  If you watched Auburn, you'll see what Clemson will run, but without Cam Newton.  Clemson does have some tremendous offensive weapons to work with, and this simple but fast-paced system seems like a good fit for their personnel.  

The big question I have with Clemson is Tahj Boyd.  Can he be an effective quarterback?  He looked terrible this year and while I think Morris will improve his play, I am not sure how much.  Dabo needs to win now, and how well Clemson gets Tahj Boyd to play will be the biggest key.

I did have an enormous question about Clemson's offensive line.  But that question is now gone.  In a major move, Clemson relieved Brad Scott, one of the worst offensive line coaches in the country, of his duties.  And they replaced him with one of the best offensive line coaches in the country.  FSU fans are well aware of the massive impact a great offensive line coach can have when he replaces a poor offensive line coach.  And Clemson has talent on the offensive line, unlike Florida State when Rick Trickett arrived.

Clemson made only one change on the defensive side-- Marion Hobby is now the defensive line coach.  He is a really, really good defensive line coach.

To sum this up, Clemson now has one of the best staff of assistants in the country (the Tigers already had a great DC in Kevin Steele and a great DB coach in Charlie Harbison).  If Dabo can stay out of stuff and continue to be an excellent recruiter, this can work. The Tigers are serious about winning.  Florida State and Clemson are the only two schools in the ACC investing in football like an SEC team does. And with that investment comes expectations. If he tries to micromanage as he has done in the past-- and I think he will in tough times, then Clemson will only have this all-star staff for a short while before firing Dabo and bringing in a new system. 

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