Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Why Do “Underdogs” Win?

Posted by admin January - 10 - 2017 - Tuesday

I sat in amazement last night as Clemson and Deshaun Watson wore down and ultimately dismantled the vaunted Alabama defense. It was quite a show. There are so many factors involved in evaluating why one team won and the other lost but… one lesson I learned from last night’s national championship game was: NEVER count out a champion!!! Especially when they’re playing for pride and playing on emotion.

I fully expected Alabama to take care of Clemson last night. They pretty much confirmed it through 3 quarters. Then something happened that I didn’t hear the “experts” comment on to any degree: Bo Scarborough got injured. ‘Bama then had like 6-7 “3 and outs” in a row. And Clemson started catching fire. Pure and simple: Clemson wore out Alabama’s defense.

Another take away I had was: you need to be able to throw (and catch!) the ball if your running game is shut down. Many high schools lack the ability to throw passes and complete them when they need to. In a close game between two evenly matched teams, you’d better be able to throw the ball effectively. Clemson, for the most part, could and… ‘Bama, for the most part, couldn’t!

Defense wins championships. True, Clemson gave up 31. However, they also “saved” another 8-14 points when Alabama had good field position but couldn’t cash in. Think about it… Alabama didn’t really have a sustained drive all night. It took big plays to get on the scoreboard.

Finally, although I highly respect Nick Saban… I LOVE Dabo Swinney! I think emotion can carry you further than some think. Whereas, Alabama seemed to be “going to work”… Clemson appeared to me to be “coming to PLAY!” They were excited. They were fired up. Their coaches were enthusiastic and energetic. They did not berate or degrade a Tiger player if he messed up; rather… they were “inspiring influencers.” That, to me, is the definition of great leadership. Dabo inspired those Tigers. I heard that Watson told the offense as they took the field for the last drive, “Let’s make history.” THAT is a player who is also an “inspiring influencer.” He “took over” the game and, yes… it reminded me a LOT of Vince Young in the ’05 national championship when Texas beat USC in the last minute. I just hope that Deshaun Watson has a better pro career than Young did.

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