FootballScoop is proud to announce that Mickey Conn and Mike Reed are the 2019 FootballScoop Defensive Backs Coaches of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
It's hard to improve upon the pass defense Clemson played this season.
For starters, the Tigers lead the nation in passing defense (151.5 yards per game), yards per attempt (5.5) and pass efficiency defense (96.31). In 384 attempts, opposing passers have completed 200 passes (52.1 percent, 8th nationally) for 2,121 yards with nine touchdowns (t-1st) against 19 interceptions (3rd).
That 9-to-19 number makes Clemson the only team in FBS to swipe twice as many interceptions as it allowed touchdown passes.
The Tigers have have held seven of their 14 opponents out of the end zone, and limited all but two to no more than one touchdown toss. Eight times this season Clemson has intercepted more passes than it allowed touchdown throws, and three times the Tigers have been plus-2 in that category. Clemson has also held eight opponents below 50 percent passing, including six consecutive from mid-October through mid-November.
Six opponents have been held below five yards per passing attempt, and three were held sub-4. That includes a 52-3 win over Wake Forest, where the Tigers limited Demon Deacons quarterback Jamie Newman to 6-of-14 for 41 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Clemson has been at its best when the lights were brightest. Ohio State's Justin Fields entered the Dec. 28 Fiesta Bowl with an out-of-this-world 40-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and Clemson picked him off twice while permitting only one touchdown pass. In fact, Clemson limited the Heisman Trophy finalist to 320 yards on 46 attempts (a season-low 7.0 per attempt) and a 122.13 efficiency rating that was 25 points below his second-worst performance and nearly 60 below his season average.
Unsurprisingly, Clemson is second in completions of 10-plus yards allowed (78) and first in 20-yard connections (24).
With the national title game awaiting Monday night, Clemson can put the crowning jewel on one of the best defensive performances in recent memory by shutting down an LSU passing attack that features Heisman winner Joe Burrow and Biletnikoff winner J'Marr Chase.
The Tigers are led by safety Tanner Muse's four interceptions, but a total of five defensive backs have swiped at least two picks and seven own at least one.
As a unit, Clemson ranks second in total defense (264.1 yards per game) and yards per play (4.16) and first in scoring defense (11.5).
All four starting defensive backs earned all-conference recognition. Muse and cornerback AJ Terrell were named First Team All-ACC honorees, while corner Derion Kendrick earned Second Team accolades and safety K'Von Wallace made the Third Team.
An Alabama graduate, Conn has coached Clemson's safeties since 2017. A college teammate of Dabo Swinney's on the Tide's 1992 national championship team, he has spent most of his career coaching high school football. He went 137-48 with one state championship as the head coach at Grayson (Ga.) High School before joining Swinney's staff as a defensive analyst in 2016.
Reed played cornerback at Boston College from 1991-94. After a brief professional career in the NFL and Europe, he previously coached defensive backs for the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to the college ranks at NC State in 2007. He has been on Clemson's staff since 2013, and previously won the FootballScoop Defensive Backs Coach of the Year award in 2015.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Jeff Hafley/Matt Barnes [Ohio State], Todd Lyght [Notre Dame], Corey Raymond/Bill Busch [LSU], Morgan Scalley/Sharieff Shah [Utah], Phil Snow/Evan Cooper [Baylor] and Conn and Reed) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
With Clemson set to play in the national title game during the AFCA convention, Conn and Reed will receive their awards at a to be determined date in the future.
Previous winners of the Defensive Backs Coach of the Year award are Tim Billings (Wake Forest, 2008), Everett Withers and Troy Douglas (North Carolina, 2009), Chad Glasgow and Clay Jennings (TCU, 2010), Ron Cooper (LSU, 2011), Bill Busch and Kendrick Shaver (Utah State, 2012), Jeremy Pruitt (Florida State, 2013), Dave Wommack and Jason Jones (Ole Miss, 2014), Mike Reed (Clemson, 2015), Charles Clark and Joe Tumpkin (Colorado, 2016), Anthony Campanile (Boston College, 2017), and Bryan Brown and Greg Gasparato (Appalachian State, 2018).
1st Nationally - Pass Efficiency
1st Nationally - Passing Defense
1st Nationally - Yards Per Attempt
Only Team With 2:1 INT-to-TD Ratio
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