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Inside the Numbers: Clemson's Offensive Woes, Defensive Dominance

With a third of the season in the books, here's a look at where Clemson stands statistically among its peers and putting it in perspective.

With a third of the season in the books, looking at the stat sheet is not a pretty sight when it comes to the No. 25 Clemson Tigers' offense. 

However, the other side of the ball looks nice right now and can probably improve. Will the offense show signs of life this week against Boston College? That remains to be seen based on what the Tigers have shown so far. 

Yes, your eyes are telling you what's good and not good, but let's put it in perspective nationally and see just how bad (and good) this team is right now. Here's a look at where Clemson ranks nationally in several statistical categories (in parentheses) and what it means four games into the regular season: 

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Clemson offense

  • 4.73 yards per play (115th)
  • 295.5 total yards per game (121st)
  • 169.3 passing yards per game (115th)
  • 5.3 yards per pass (122nd)
  • 56.7 completion percentage (101st)
  • 126.5 rushing yards per game (99th)
  • 4.11 yards per rush (74th)
  • 12 total touchdowns (91st)
  • 87 points scored (106th)
  • 21.8 points per game (105th)
  • 43.64 third-down percentage (52nd)
  • 14 runs of 10+ yards (106th)

  • 8 pass plays of 20+ yards (109th) 

  • 3 runs of 20+ yards (95th)

What it means: There's no way anybody on earth could've predicted these numbers at this point. This is an offense that's regularly ranked among the best nationally for nearly a decade. But these numbers show a team that struggles with efficiency at every position. The most concerning is the lack of yards per play and abysmal passing numbers. That's led to just two explosive pass plays per game. Last year, the Tigers had 5.6 per game. 

Clemson defense

  • 297.3 total yards allowed per game (26th)
  • 4.1 yards per play (7th)
  • 180.5 passing yards per game (32nd)
  • 5.3 yards per pass (10th)
  • 116.7 rushing yards per game (43rd)
  • 3.0 yards per rush (26th)
  • 9 sacks (57th)
  • 28 tackles for loss (35th)
  • 12 points per game allowed (5th)
  • 47 points allowed (7th)
  • 5 touchdowns allowed (3rd)
  • 10 runs of 10+ yards (20th)
  • 0 runs of 30+ yards (1st)
  • 8 pass plays of 20+ yards (19th)

What it means: This might not be the best defense Brent Venables has ever had, but it's pretty darn good. It took until the fourth game before this group allowed a touchdown, and there aren't many teams stingier in yards per play allowed. The big-play rate allowed is solid as well. Clemson's havoc rate, plays made behind the line of scrimmage, can improve, but it won't be easy without defensive tackles Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis.  

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