Clemson Football: Middle of the field is key to 2020


In order for Clemson football to win their third national title in five years in 2020, offensive coordinator and Tony Elliott and quarterback Trevor Lawrence are going to have to use the entire field.

Take just 30 minutes and pop in any Clemson football game tape from 2019, especially the College Football Playoff, and the offense is the same over and over again. Nearly every throw Trevor Lawrence makes is to the boundary to receivers running nine (fly routes) and they rarely used the middle of the field.


How obvious was this? LSU was giving Trevor Lawrence and Tony Elliott the middle of the field and they failed to take advantage of it. The few times that Trevor did incorporate the middle of the field, they went for big gains.

Sure, one can blame the lack of tight end receiving talent missing Braden Galloway for 13 games and the non-emergence of Jaelyn Jay as excuses for the lack of a productive middle of the field. However, Tony Elliott and Brandon Streeter have to do a much better job in their passing scheme and matchup identification in 2020 if this offense is going to reach its true potential.

Big plays are fun and exciting, but big plays also don’t win championships. Very few of LSU’s explosive plays in the national title game were based on running fly routes. Instead, Joe Brady identified his favorable matchups and exploited them which resulted in simply four and five-yard plays becoming explosive.

The talent of the 2020 Clemson football roster is undeniable and the matchups every week are going to favor those wearing orange and purple. Tony Elliott has to set up the 50-yard bomb attempts and not simply throw them to get the offense started. Build the confidence of the offense before you try and take the top off.

We all want to see Justyn Ross haul in a 50-yard bomb as much as Trevor wants to throw one. But asking Trevor to throw them off rhythm is how you end up with his performance against LSU and not the performance he had versus Alabama the year prior.

With weapons like Galloway, Brannon Spector and Amari Rodgers all back and more experienced in 2020, the middle of the field will be wide open and will be the key to passing game success.