Turnovers Could Play Starring Role in Orange Bowl

By Kyle Rowland on December 26, 2013 at 9:15a
Tajh Boyd will want to keep his eye on Bradley Roby.

In Clemson’s two losses, there was one dominant theme: turnovers. The Tigers turned the ball four times against Florida State and six times against South Carolina. After defeating then-No. 5 Georgia in the season-opener, expectations at Clemson soared. But disaster compounded itself in each loss.

At the Orange Bowl, the Tigers meet an Ohio State team ranked 28th in turnover margin. The Buckeyes have recovered eight fumbles and intercepted 14 passes. In its most recent game, a 31-17 loss at South Carolina, Clemson handed out turnovers as if they were Christmas presents – three fumbles, three interceptions. The Gamecocks ended up with 21 points off turnovers after the Seminoles scored 24 the previous month.

“You sit and preach it, and you coach it, and you talk it all the time. At some point, you’ve just got to take care of the football,” offensive coordinator Chad Morris said.

Redemption could come in several ways Jan. 3. For one, the Tigers could get another marquee win, this time in a bowl game. And not just any bowl, but in the Orange Bowl, the scene of an embarrassing 37-point defeat two years ago. On that night against West Virginia, Clemson committed four turnovers, including a 99-yard fumble return that resulted in a Mountaineer touchdown and a 14-point swing the Tigers never recovered from.

Rest assured, they won’t be in the same giving spirit in a week’s time.

“When we win the turnover margin, we win. That’s just the fact,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “But when we go out there and make critical mistakes and lose that turnover margin, we get beat. We’ve proven that we’re not good enough to beat good teams when we turn it over. That’s what we have to get done to have a chance to beat these guys.”

The stats prove Swinney correct. Clemson is 32-3 during his career when it’s on the plus side of the turnover margin. During the 2013 regular season, the Tigers averaged one turnover in their 10 wins and five in two losses. It was a tale of two seasons.

Clemson only turned the ball over six times in the first six games while forcing 15 turnovers. But the final six games saw 16 turnovers committed and just 11 created. Not surprisingly, both defeats came in the second half of the season.

Junior safety Robert Smith said it’s not just the offense at fault, the defense also has to hold up its end of the bargain. When they don’t generate turnovers, it puts more pressure on the offense to perform on what’s usually a longer field.

“Turnovers can kill any team,” Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas said. “You can’t win by turning the ball over, and that’s what has happened in our losses. Our wounds have been self-inflicted.”

That’s why Swinney is preaching a message to his team that they’re the focal point, not Ohio State. If the Tigers can avoid beating themselves, they’re confident a win is probable. But Morris realizes just how difficult a challenge that is because of how sound the Buckeyes have been.

“I think Tajh needs to play well,” Morris said. “After coming off of the South Carolina game, I think he needs to play well. He had a great bowl performance last year against LSU. I think he’s done a good job to this point. He’s a competitor.”

Boyd threw two interceptions in both losses this season. He finished his career going 0-4 against South Carolina with five interceptions. His performances versus LSU and Georgia are proof Boyd can be at his best against quality competition, but other games are evidence of his unraveling when the pressure reaches a breaking point.

“You look at the story of what’s really wrong, go look at the turnover stat,” Boyd said.

He will have one more chance to right a wrong. 


Comments Show All Comments

TMac's picture

So you're saying we just need to be +1 or better in turnovers, and the Buckeyes should WIN!!

ONE Not Done!

Hovenaut's picture

I don't expect that Boyd will be confused by any coverage schemes the Buckeyes cook up (wouldn't mind being surprised however).
That said, my hopes lie with the d-line - hoping they harass Boyd enough with swatted passes, errant throws and/or even a fumble.
Looking for any opportunities on special teams as well - punt block, onsides kick, etc.

AndyVance's picture

Agreed - pressure on Boyd will be critical, but having the discipline not to over-commit and get taken out of plays is the other side of that dual-edged sword... We saw that some in recent weeks, too, which led to some big plays.
I think if anything, Ross' breakdown earlier gives me some hope that at least the Buckeyes have been practiced at going up against this offense, since Clemson's style of play isn't all that different from our own offense. Here's hoping that helps...

Hovenaut's picture

Well said AV.
Even though it brought the legend of (the real) Kenny G to Columbus, I relish the thought of Boyd getting smacked around by the school he chose Clemson over.
Going to have a hard time waiting out the next eight days.

AndyVance's picture

Ditto and ditto!

fanfarris's picture

Gee.I hope Oyster get in the middle of this cute and high fiving choming that's going on here between Fred of Baltimore and AV..Get Em Oyster. 


AndyVance's picture

You stay classy, Non-Oyster.

Hovenaut's picture

I'm Fred of Baltimore.
Won't you please join us?

razrback16's picture

Yep, that's where I am, as well -- we will need the DL to get major pressure in the backfield on the pass and the LBs to trigger well to stop their run game. If these things don't happen, Clemson is going to score a lot of points.

RBuck's picture

Here's hoping the defensive coaches are watching a lot of South Carolina tape.

Long live the southend.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

“When we win the turnover margin, we win. That’s just the fact,” head coach Dabo Swinney said.

Dabo's Theorem works okay for 2013 - they lost two games and both times they had bad turnover margins. Never mind, I guess, that FSU completely dominated Clemson, out-gaining the Tigers by 565 to 326 yards, with FSU throwing for 12.7 yds per pass, while Clemson threw for 4.5 yards per pass. 
Unfortunately, Dabo's Theorem doesn't hold up as well when we apply it to previous years. For example, in 2012, Clemson won the turnover margin against FSU, but still lost the game, so Dabo's Theorem wasn't a "fact" in 2012.
I have an alternative theorem that works ever better - let's call it Fido's Theorem: "When Clemson plays either FSU or South Carolina, they lose. That's just the fact."

Crimson's picture

Let's hope to update this one:

"When Clemson plays either tOSU, FSU, or South Carolina, they lose. That's just the fact."

Boxley's picture

That was exactly what I was thinking, if Clemson believes it lost to FSU because of turnovers, then I hope they keep thinking that, because that was a flat out ass whoopin.
The only offense  as good as ours that  they faced this year was FSU, and we all know how that worked out.
Yes FSU's defense is significantly better than ours is. But our O should carry the day.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Barnsey69's picture

Obviously this works both ways, but our D-line is good and will be well rested/healthy, so I like our chances to make some things happen.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

bucks_4_life's picture

I had a dream last night that Roby intercepted a pass and zig zagged 40 yards for a touchdown. Didn't think too much of it till I woke up and read this article.

The juice is worth the squeeze

GVerrilli92's picture

Well done sir.

I enjoyed that.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

okiebuck's picture

On offense we need Braxton to take care of the football; period. He has been loose with ball security at times this season and if that happens in South Beach we will be toast because our defense is not good enough to overcome giving the ball away to Clemson. 

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Jbucks's picture

our D-Line is key! as long as the dont overplay the pocket, as someone has already stated but, I do think that were Gonna have to Spy Curtis Grant alot to somewhat contain Boyd from taking off, (HUGE) IF we shutdown Sammy, and contain Boyd then we should be able to outscore them easily

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

GVerrilli92's picture

Boyd can skip faster than Grant. That would be a waste of a man.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

Jbucks's picture

if he gets a read on Boyd fast enough, even if Boyd can skip faster than grant, Grant would be able to keep Boyd from turning up field by forcing him to run sideways instead of forward

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC

fanfarris's picture

Anyone here has any stats of a team loosing 5 turnover and still win the game ??


Chise47's picture

Maybe it's just Scarlet & Gray glasses I see this match up through, but here it goes:
Both of Clemsons loses had something in common no-one has mentioned. Hits on Boyd!!
Clemson turnovers occur when Boyd is runnin' for his life, & getting smacked down. Something I'm absolutely certain our D-line will provide. Yeah, Watkins is dangerous, comparable to Allen Robinson no doubt, better than Abrideris, yet I quote The Tuna,(Bill Parcells for all you youngsters who may not be familiar with that moniker),"I've never seen a QB complete a pass layin' on his back!"
Us: 34
Them: 21
Go Bucks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jbucks's picture

Vonn Bell just said hes getting the start in the Orange Bowl

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it-John 1:5 SEC meet Ohio State, Ohio State meet SEC