Every year, but more so in the last two years, there’s a segment of Clemson football fans that want to rid the Tiger offense of the screen pass.
Such is life when the season doesn’t live up to expectations and sometimes even when it does.
It “never” works and is “always” a cluster bleep, they say in today’s parlance of absolutes.
Old or young, it doesn’t matter. They hate it.
I’ve got bad news for those that think the hiring of offensive coordinator Garrett Riley means the end, or even the reduction, of screen passes.
According to Pro Football Focus, TCU quarterback Max Duggan threw screens on 21.2% of dropbacks and 26.2% of dropbacks resulted in passes behind the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, Clemson, with D.J. Uiagalelei, threw screens on 18.9% of drop backs and 23.0% of dropbacks ended up with passes behind the line of scrimmage and Cade Klubnik’s rates were 21.4% screens and 25.0% behind the line of scrimmage.
TCU, under Garrett Riley, used screens and passes behind the line just as often or more than Clemson.
There was a difference though, TCU with Duggan was much more successful on those screens and passes behind the line, averaging 6.4 yards per play on each, while Clemson with D.J. Uiagalelei averaged 4.5 on each.
The even better news is that with Klubnik at quarterback, in a limited sample size, Clemson did much better, better even than Duggan, averaging 7 yards per attempt on screens and 7.4 yards per attempt behind the line of scrimmage and collecting first downs at a much higher rate than Clemson did under Uiagalelei.
The screen isn’t going anywhere. The best teams in the country use it and use it often, in many cases more often than Clemson does.
How effective it is depends on a lot of things, but it’s a skill that not every quarterback has and being off by just a tiny bit can cause the play to be blown up.
Clemson football fans are likely to see more screens, not less in 2023
Clemson fans will see a lot of screens and passes behind the line of scrimmage in 2023 and that makes perfect sense with Klubnik and Shipley in the backfield. It’ll be a staple.
Klubnik’s yard per attempt averages above aren’t sustainable, as neither Deshaun Watson or Trevor Lawrence reached those levels in their time with the Tigers.
That said, it won’t be 4.5 either.