O'Cain Talks Offense

Clemson offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain talks about the stuggles of the Tigers' offense.

What percentage of the plays do you call and what percentage of the plays does Tommy call?
O'Cain: Well, half. It's really kind of a misnomer in terms of play calling. It's really done kind of by staff. There are predetermined things we are going to do according to down and distance. Particularly on third down. Your normal calls on first and 10 and second down we kind of discuss between series what we try and do the next series. Whether it be a reverse, a deep ball, whether we want to run the ball. What we do between series, is not necessarily pinpoint the pass or the particular run we want, but we want to run the ball on second down, or throw the ball deep on the third play, and we'll come up with five or six normal down calls. Then, if you go longer than that, then you call them off the cuff. Most drives, it's about seven or eight plays. It's a little different in a two minute situation.

Can you account for the lack of string of big plays by this offense this year?
O'Cain: It's been tough. String? I'd like to get one. (laughing) I don't think I've ever been in this long a stretch where we haven't had the big plays. Some of it has been the teams we've played against. Virginia for example- they are very hard to get the big play because of how they play defense. Even Utah State, they were very soft, and its very tough to get a big play. And then, we've had the opportunities, and we just haven't executed. Charlie made the read a couple of times Saturday that had big play potential and he made a poor throw. So it's just been a matter of having some opportunities, not executing. You know, we also had two against Florida State back to back. That's what we talked about yesterday offensively. We have to have someone step up. We need someone to make the big catch and make a 20 or 30-yard run. I don't think there's a true answer. It's a matter of continuing to work at it, and things are going to click.

Is the running game effecting coverages enough to where you have enough opportunities for big plays?
O'Cain: I don't think there is a team on our schedule that has changed what they've done because of our running game. Virginia plays how they play. Florida State plays how they play, and Maryland played how they played. Maryland may not have played as much press man coverage, but that was smart on their smart. Maryland is pretty salty on defense. I think Saturday, you take out 76 minus yards, we ran the ball for 180 yards. That's not great, but that's good enough to make people defend you. We slammed it up in there. Would I like for it to be better? Yes. Will having the ball more, having more plays, help you? Yes. The thing we have not done offensively is control the football. Particularly last Saturday with the three and outs. There were a lot of reasons for that: one penalty here, one missed opportunity there.

Did Tommy challenge the offense this week?
O'Cain: Well, yeah. In his way. It's time for us to step up. No more than what we've done in weeks before or what I've done. That's something you do every week is to challenge us to be better, both individually and as a team. I challenge myself, because I make mistakes too. I call plays that I didn't wish that I call. Like that fourth and one call. I thought we had a great play called, but it didn't turn out that way. If I had do it over again, I wouldn't call it. (laughing) You always start with yourself as a coach, but when we get somebody open, we've got do a better job individually of making the right throws. We've got to do something special. We've got to step up a little bit.

Does there come a point as an offensive staff where you ask yourself, 'maybe we just don't have the horses or the talent to run this kind offense?'
O'Cain: There's no question, when you look at what we've done a little bit. We've been less three or four wide outs, and more two wide outs at times. You always look at things when you are struggling, how can you change? How can you make yourself better. As I said before the season, sometimes you don't know what you have until you've played. You don't know how players are going to step. We've had some guys step up and play well, and we've had other guys that haven't. We haven't been as good as we could have been, had that guy stepped up. But I don't think we've ever thought that we don't have the players (to run this offense). When you look at who we've played and what they've done. Nobody's moved the ball on Virginia, except Florida State. Nobody's moved the ball on Florida State. The folks we've played, I don't see anybody having massive yards. As a coach, you want to keep it in perspective.

Yes, but five of those teams have post more yardage than you have against those team.
O'Cain: How much more?

100 yards or more in some instances. Sometimes 200 yards.
O'Cain: We catch two passes, or one pass, or get the ball for 10 more plays against Virginia. It's not an excuse. Nobody is satisfied with how we've played offensively.

So the numbers can be misleading?
O'Cain: I think so. As a staff, we want to lead the league in total offense, but the key is what we've got to do to win. I don't get bogged down in numbers, personally. I want to do good. If that means throwing for 300 and running for 50, that's fine. If it means for running for 300 and throwing for 50, that's fine. Whatever it takes for us to be good. I'm not sure we've found that out yet. It's been a struggle. And it's been a struggle to get big plays. But you work at it. It would be one thing if you found somebody loafing. Or not trying. But that's not the case. We've got guys going full speed.

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