I'm going to go pretty much drive by drive here, almost play by play. See the end for the summarizing thoughts. Please comment and ask questions on what you dont understand, these take a long time to do well. Our goal here is to look for good plays and bad technique. I may pull a few plays out to discuss the Clemson offense/defense, and if theres anything that you would like to see or have explained, just ask.
The animated drive chart is at the end.
Clemson starts at the 24 - Iso for 1....Gun zone Draw for 9...Empty set, motion to a toss sweep for 12...Harper outside zone for 2, blown up by 98, who beat Freeman up the A....screen to Harper for 16, Auburn caught in man/man, and bad play by their LB Stevens....Power Harper for 2...zone for 6...Ellington pushes their LB for 2 yards for a first on a toss....Iso for 19, Auburn is already slanting their line....Iso Harper for 7....busted play on an end around, blown up by Nick Fairley (on David Smith), but Ashe runs into the play and the timing is thrown off...Shovel Pass to Harper for the TD. 7-0 Clemson, 12 plays 76 yards.
12 plays, 6 minutes of clock, and just 2 passes, one of which was basically a run (shovel). All plays went to the boundary side or middle of the field, and the most successful were zones. Harper had 5 yards on 3 carries, and the shovel reception. It made me all tingly inside.
Auburn starts at their 32 - 3 & out. Clemson showing Nickel. Brandon Thompson held so bad that he was turned totally around on first play.....Hawkins jumps into the gap to get Dyer....Thompson totally blew up the other Guard and pushes him into Dyer, then Bowers makes the play for a 5 yard loss.
2nd CU drive at the 22 - Ellington Iso for a couple, no movement....Empty set, slant dropped by Ashe, threw it right into his face mask....Fairley eats up Smith and he forces early throw incomplete. 3 plays 2 yards.
I dont see an adjustment by the Auburn defense, they just played harder. Getting pressure with the down 4. They're still slanting to the Field side some, but playing alot of it straight.
2nd AU drive starts at their 39 - 3 & out. Jet sweep rocked by Bowers for a big loss....Newton overthrows Adams, bad throw by Newton, but it would've been tough to hit....Newton gains the 1st down due to loss of Contain by Bowers, he cut inside to get Newton and Cam went outside, but Holding on 57 negates it....McCalleb on a delay handoff for about 10. Punt.
On the play to Adams it was a double move route that shook Gilchrist, and DMac was a little late, only a perfectly thrown ball would've hit him.
On the last play Branch was aligned outside Bowers as a rush LB and twisted inside. Hawkins took the A-gap and he just went outside the Guard.
3rd CU drive starts at our 30 - Marquan in the flats, Hairston badly beaten around the edge, not moving his feet....FL screen to Brown for a few, nice cut blocking by the line, but Clear held their guy trying to crack.....Fairley forces Parker out, against Cloy now, and Allen finds the hole in the zone....Quick flat route to Marquan for the 1st...Modified Power/Iso play for 2, Diehl moving as an H-back into the B-gap as the lead...Perfect play-action to AE and Allen is wide open in flat running a wheel route (same play that got us a TD with Palmer vs Miami last year)...Power for 2...Another busted play, Freeman completely missed Fairley in the A-gap. END 1st. McNeal in the flats for a 1st down hitch...4th & 1 and Brandon Thomas is out there as an extra TE, doesnt know where to line up, and we call TO....Power play Harper, doesnt follow his two lead blockers into the hole. Cloy and Diehl blew the LB away and Harper went outside them. Had he followed it would've been a 1st. Turnover on Downs. 9 plays 37 yards.
Just attacking with the pass left/right in the flats here. Auburn is staying in their base 4-3 Over. The busted play appeared to be a counter/trap and not McClain's assignment to get Fairley.
Cloy can't handle Fairley any better than Smith it appears here. He is jumping the snap count on any short yardage play, why doesn't Kyle give them a few hard counts?
AU starts at their 33 - 3 & out. Wildcat, Bowers misses a TFL. Gets 6....Proper gap control stuffs Dyer....Newton throws high incomplete. Punt.
Auburn tried sending out Ziemba as an extra tackle just like we did, but he didn't announce himself as eligible on the last play. We're not doing anything special, just playing back in coverage and controlling the LOS.
Next CU drive starts at our 23 - Flare for 7, checkdown by Parker...Screen to Ellington for 22, nice play by Walker...Sweep for 10, well blocked on Left side...Parker overthrows Harper on backside of a bootleg, you should not throw that ball, ever. Never throw back across the field across your body....Harper spins for a couple, gets the 1st. I'm putting this one in for the Esso Club:
Dye drops a pass, hit his hands. The pass was deflected by Bynes, so don't hold it against him. Harper makes good chuck of a lineman to keep pressure off backside...Bootleg hits Nuke, but some Lineman went downfield...Allen on a quick In in the face of a blitz, nice play on both....Harper Iso for 1, tiptoeing. Fairley offsides though gives us 1st down...Screen broken up by the 3 Auburn players who were unblocked. They were slanting and our left side barely pushed them. You have to at least hold them up a little....Screen to Allen...Freeman whiffs on a LB blitz up the A-gap and he blows up the zone handoff to Harper. 42yd FG, 10-0 Clemson. 11 plays 53 yards, 04:44
I don't know why Freeman and McClain are both trying to cut the Auburn DT. That is on Freeman, he must spot the LB. The Center's first job is to spot that MLB, particularly when they play Even fronts.
We're continuing to hit left/right with screens, sweeps, and the like. Gap scheme plays not getting significant yards.
AU starts at the 18 - Again Branch as LB outside Bowers, he stayed home and enabled Hawkins/Bowers to get there to make the TFL...Dyer gets 4 up the gut...Newton finds Adams on a Dig behind the LBs...trick play gets another 1st down...Newton misses open Smith in flats....We don't line up properly and call a TO....Speed option, Bowers forces it but no one close for Dyer on the pitch. Brandon Maye got cut by the TE, he had pitch responsibility. Newton did not attack Bowers as he should've....Holding on them...Good coverage by DMac and Maxwell stops deep throw. Cam Newton staring him down. Punt. 7 plays 35 yards
Looks like we're letting Branch have the outside in run defense but when the ball is snapped, he twists inside as a spy on Newton.
You can see there on two plays where Newton's youth comes into it. He didn't look short on that pass, and is supposed to make Bowers commit on the option play.
Clemson starts at the 20 - Toss to Harper, bout 6. He's not running full speed when he turns the corner....End around to Brown gets the 1st. We got a gift on a holding there on that DE...PA dump to Allen, LBs aren't nearby to pick him up....Ellington Power cuts it back right and gets 2...Dye NOT LOOKING FOR THE BALL, incomplete....Throw to Allen is low, incomplete. I think Dwayne should've caught that ball.Punt. 6 plays 28 yards.
Still attacking left/right. I don't see any shots deep though, and they're just showing us Man/man. We did get a gift of no-hold called on the end-around on Hairston. Xavier Dye was not even looking for the ball and Parker had to get rid of it against a backside LB blitz, Dye didn't read their pre-snap movement.
AU starts at their 20 - Looks like we are playing 4-1-6 and dropping Hall. Bowers bites on PA and Newton gets 8....Toss play, well played by both sides, gets 1st down. Nice Contain by Branch....End around completely snuffed out by DMac.....Newton hangs one up for DMac, interception.
CU starts at their 39 - Tunnel screen to Marquan for 10....Dye on a hitch for another 1st. Auburn playing deep coverage prevent a little there....Another backside screen broken up by Auburn since no one tried to chuck the blitzers....Bubble screen to Dye for another 1st, nice block by Brown outside....Parker pump fakes and hits Harper for the 24 yd TD. Outstanding throw, outstanding catch. 17-0 Clemson, 5 plays 61 yards.
Screens right, screens left, and Parker threads a needle. I actually think the pump fake makes this work. Not surprised that we didn't run here, looks like 2 minute offense only.
Auburn starts at the 30 after 3-4 missed tackles on KOR - 1:14 left. Bowers eats up Newton on a keeper...PI on Marcus Gilchrist, he was on his back. 15 yards....Hawkins catches Newton on a keeper, holding on Pugh, penalty declined....Hawkins stumbles and McCalleb beats him to the corner for 12. I don't think we were where we should be there either. Bowers went inside, way inside, and Branch was going C-gap. One of those two should've made this play. McCalleb just split the hole Bowers created....On the next play Branch is to the other side (as a LB again) with Hawkins charging up the A-gap. Newton runs around the RT (because Bowers jumps inside) and Branch isn't there, he's already moved inside, and Newton gets another 1st down.....Newton gets another 1st down because Hawkins is standing where he isn't supposed to be. 35 yd FG, 17-3, 6 plays 53 yards.
3 straight plays of people not where they are supposed to be cost us 3 points, and we lost by 3.
End of Half
Except for the last series, the defense has played near-perfect football. They were where they are supposed to be. They took the right gaps and angles. Bowers has been unblockable, but he lost contain early to give Newton a 1st, and there with McCalleb at the end of the half, he's not where he should be. Thats a mental mistake, not scheme issues.
Only real complaint about the offense is that we're screen happy, zone run game appears to have been abandoned. How many do you see above? Why would we quit running zones with Ellington? I see some Power plays and Isolation, and one or two I-formation plays were zone blocked, but we kind of gave up with the running game a little because they beat us back up front. Clemson's OL is not manhandling them any longer. If you think that is the case for the entire first half, you are mistaken. They are getting consistent pressure with the down 4 and picking their spots on blitzes. Not enough shots down field against a suspect secondary playing man/man. Our guys can't get open against man/man?
Surprised that Auburn isn't reacting to our motion. Looks like Roof told them to play it straight and ignore the motion.
At the half - Clemson 45 plays for 267 and 17 first downs. Auburn 25 plays for 116 and 6 1st Downs. Note that 53 of Auburn's yards were on the last drive.
AU starts at their 45 after a facemask and bad KO coverage - QB power stuffed by Bowers for short gain....Holding on 57 again after a 4-5 yard gain....Brewer bit on a double move, pump & go route, 35 yard gain to Adams on an underthrown ball....Next play is also a little underthrown, and Brewer intercepts it to makes up for his gaffe at our 1.
For those wondering, it was the proper ruling by the officials that the ball come out on the 1 yard line. It is the spot of the interception that is correct. Its the same rule in the NFL as college, the announcers were wrong.
Ruling 8-5-1 V. of the 2009-10 Rule Book, pg FI-65:
B1 intercepts a pass or fumble or catches a scrimmage or free kick
between his five-yard line and the goal line, and his momentum
carries him into the end zone. The ball is declared dead in Team
B’s possession in the end zone. RULING: Team B’s ball at the spot
where the pass or fumble was intercepted, or the kick was caught.
The ruling is the same if B1 had recovered a fumble, a backward pass
or a kick under similar circumstances.
As for the DL you could see there that we were not pushing the pocket upfield, they weren't holding us, we just didnt appear to be pass rushing Newton at all. If anything it looked like we were trying to hold the pocket intact.
CU starts at our 1 yd line - Have to be conservative here. Iso for 1....Bootleg and Parker goes out at the 3, and Clayton gives him a late hit for 15 yards. Dumb play on Clayton, dumb....Toss sweep with Harper to boundary for loss....Ellington zone for a couple to boundary....TO called due to McNeal not knowing the play....Hairston is beaten off the corner for not moving his feet, McClain beaten by Fairley, and Diehl drops a gimme because he was looking up field. Punt. 5 plays 18 yards, 02:30
Don't know why Maxwell didn't get a hit penalty because the Auburn PR called fair catch I thought. Auburn slanted their DL to the boundary side, was field side earlier.
Auburn starts at their 39 - Wildcat keeper for a couple, I wonder where the DE on that side was?....Newton gets about 6 on a keeper, Goodman got himself turned out of the C-gap where Newton ran....Darvin Adams again for 34 yards deep crossing route, Brewer asleep, DMac a bit late getting over. What was Brewer thinking about there? He just let the guy go up unchallenged. On this play, BT was actually triple-teamed, apparently 57 asked for help. The rest of the DL is playing with their pads up and Bowers seems to be just looking at Newton and not rushing....Newton for a couple up the gut....Newton again for about 4, Bowers and Branch twist him down, Jarvis Jenkins gets his helmet ripped off and no holding called?....
McCalleb on an end around to the short side for the 12 yd TD, Branch didnt take the best angle (blocker also held his jersey, just as much a hold as was called on Clear earlier), nor did Brandon Maye. Either of them could've made this play. 17-10 Clemson. 6 plays 61 yards
I don't see how no hold got called there, the refs are letting stuff go but that was blatant on Jenkins. Its at least illegal hands to the face.
TD caused by the defense being asleep, no other reason, not anything Auburn is doing differently other than the quick snapping. Clemson has not done anything different on defense either, and I wouldn't say they needed to.
But bad LB play, weak DL effort in rush contributed to this score. Field position didn't help.
Clemson starts at our 32 - 3 & out. Ellington up the gut for nothing twice. Parker hit on the last play in the back, leading with the helmet.
9-1-3 (FR-120) (Replaces 9-1-2-l, m, n)
"No player shall initiate contact and target an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul."
PENALTY (a-b)—Personal Foul. 15 yards basic spot, or 15 yards from the succeeding spot for dead-ball fouls. Also, automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules.
I'm not crying about the penalties here because the refs are giving both of us gifts, but for those wondering this is a spear. Spearing is not just when you leave your feet to deliver a hit, not according to the Rules. Spearing is anytime you lead with the top of your helmet. The hit on Parker is a spear.
AU starts at their 28 - Bowers lost the C-gap and McCalleb gets 15 off tackle. Hawkins also to blame for not reading flow better....Dyer gets zilch, great play by Bowers....Adams again for the 1st, DMac late there. Maxwell cushioned playing Cover 2 zone (he has flats), and DMac is supposed to get over there. Another receiver stays short so Maxwell must cover him. The LB (Maye) has to get depth and carry Adams up the seam here and is nowhere close....Lost edge contain from DMac gets them another 1st down from Dyer....A huge hole gets opened on the left side and gets them another 22. On this play the hole was there because the DT stunted outside, but I don't see Branch going inside where Jenkins was lined up? Either thats a mistake on Branch or its just on Steele....Dyer again for 5 up the left side, Hawkins late into the B-gap (thats the DT's gap though, depending on the alignment)....Sweep off tackle well read by Maxwell for short loss....TD play to Adams looks like a hitch/stop route, Maxwell is supposed to be within one arm length, but thats a great catch no matter how you slice it. 17-17, 8 plays 72 yards, 02:44
DL still not giving max effort on every play. Mental mistakes. 2-3 guys not being in their gap. LB weaknesses in pass coverage exploited. We are playing mostly zone.
Clemson starts on their 20 - I'm again confused how the hit on the return after his knee is down is not a late hit? The referee is standing there beside him, waving his arm and whistling, and 2 seconds later the Auburn player runs right into him?
Fake toss sweep just blown up by Carter, thats a good play by him....Draw up the gut by Ellington for 22....Harper tiptoes on an Iso for 1....Harper gun zone for 1....Empty set on 3rd & 9, blitz, Parker throws high to Dye. Floated it. Punt.5 plays 23 yards
Parker couldn't set his feet on that throw, and it sailed high. Auburn playing just man/man Robber, slanting their DL to the boundary (where both those Harper runs were to). They arent concerned with our WRs. Clemson goes empty on 3rd & 9, and Auburn blitzed it.
Auburn starts at their 17 - Dyer gets off tackle but good job by us to string it and hold to 5. Bowers went inside, Hawkins outside, and Hawk got cut....TD play for 78, just another double move, Maxwell slipped, and Hall was not in position. 24-17 Auburn, 2 plays 83 yards.
Hall must get DEPTH up the seam there! He knows that, and has read it right 100x, this is a mental lapse.
Clemson starts at our 23 - Parker takes a deep shot to Brown, ball underthrown by Parker. No contact on the play but the reason it was called is because the DB was playing Jaron and not the ball. I think Jaron should've made this catch, hit him in the face mask....zone with orbit motion for 6, Harper finally gets yardage inside....Power right for 6 from Harper. End 3rd QTR.
Ellington zone for 21, Auburn got caught slanting Fieldside....PA pass to Harper, hits his chest and he doesnt catch it....Marquan bubble/tunnel screen for 3....Empty on 3rd & 6, Dye catches it, PI gives 1st down. I don't think that was PI....Toss to Harper stretched out, 6....Ellington screen for 11 they rip his helmet off, no call...Ellington HB Power for the TD. 24-24, 8 plays 77 yards, 03:27
Clutch, clutch answer by our offense. Two drops though.
Auburn from their 21 - HORRIBLE coverage on the KOR, penalty knocked it back - McCalleb again on that read option. Newton doesnt push Bowers (force) as well as he can, but again here Hawkins is not scraping around behind him for the pitch and he goes for 12. Either Gilchrist or the other corner to this side has support as well, and nowhere to be found....Newton for a couple on a keeper....End around completely blown up by DMac and Bowers, outstanding play. Bowers blew into the back in 2 heartbeats...Sack on a blitz, an interesting one we might cover later here. I wonder why we took a whole quarter to blitz again?.....Punt, 29 yarder. 4 plays -13 yards
Clemson from the 48 - 3 & out. Harper runs twice, Power left and a delay draw where Harper's dancing cost him 5-6 yards easily. WHY Harper? ELLINGTON JUST KILLED THEM. 3rd & long, Harper barely touches the DE, Parker sacked by Fairley, who ate Mason Cloy for breakfast. That was horrible by Cloy, and Parker doesnt need to be getting hit.
Definitely a squandered opportunity there with pretty good field position. Napier should have adjusted his protection with Parker hurting like this. I would not send the back on a checkdown when they can get rush with only 4 guys.
Auburn from their 17 - Gilchrist reads the keeper right and whiffs on the tackle. Newton gets 8....Dyer jukes Brandon Maye out of his shoes and runs past Branch for 15. Jesus Christ WTF was Maye doing? HORRIBLE angle and ran right by Dyer....Jet keeper, Chavis stopped it cold...Eric Smith catch on nice playcall, then we need 3 guys to get him out of bounds....Dyer slapped around by Jenkins....No pass rush, 30 front, Kourtnei Brown not there on containment and Newton keeps for 8...Brewer jams the B-gap and stops Newton cold at the LOS, nice form tackle. Thats on Newton for tiptoeing. Punt. 7 plays 39 yards, 03:54
Clemson from our 9 - Ellington zone for 12. Thanks Billy....Again for 6...Harper zone for 3...Power Harper for 17, Auburn put 9 guys on the LOS and Harper got through on 3rd & short....Ellington zone for 2.....FUCKING DUMBASS REVERSE CALL loses a yard....Parker overthrows Allen wide open, couldn't set his feet with the rush in his face. Punt.7 plays 39 yards
Brain fart on the reverse, weak pass protection again, but Napier at least realized that Ellington should get the ball and zones are the best option.
Auburn at their 13 - Chavis rips into backfield to slow Dyer then the guys string it out to stop it...Dyer up the gut for 5...Bowers eats up Dyer for no gain.
Auburn gets stuffed totally. Nice play by Branch and BT on a keep. Wildcat to McCalleb, BT blows into the backfield and eats up Kodi Burns, then McCalleb gets a wake up call from Maxwell....Coty Sensabaugh in good position in coverage on Adams on the last play. Can't ask for more from the D here.
Clemson Possession - 5 yard stop to Brown, the ball was low. Parker not gettin anything on the throw....Ellington screen for 8...AE Zone for 5, Smith went down, Thomas in at LG, Brad Scott starts jerking off because he's now able to move yet another Tackle to Guard....Ellington Iso for a couple, good play by Auburn there...Jaron Brown drops the open TD on a wide throw.
Auburn was offsides on the snap. Look at the LB, he's flat-footed. No call.
Animated Drive Chart
Steele Postgame Napier
Well, not much else to say really, it was a great effort but they still gave the game away in the 3rd quarter with mental lapses and the lack of offensive adjustment, particularly in noticing that zones worked and the lack of protection for Parker.
Defense had some mental mistakes that give Auburn their points. Guys not where they should be, so we come back to the same issue of gap control there. These guys know where their gap is supposed to be.
In the trenches, our DL performed very well for 3 quarters. We pointed out the miscues above. We didn't lose the game because of the linebackers, actually they weren't involved on many plays at all. Hawkins had people lined up correctly, he was slow to scrape on a few plays but for the majority of the game he took the right gap. Brandon Maye had a couple of flubbed ones, again. Not a surprise to most of you.
Secondary had moments where they just went to sleep, but otherwise the coverage was great. We had guys slipping on double moves and Brewer, for example, would have one good play, then a bad one, then a good one, then a bad one.
We predicted Clemson would play mostly zone, and thats what we did. I thought Steele would aim for making Newton beat us with his arm, and thats what the gameplan was. Only thing we didnt do that I expected was more zone blitzing. In the 3rd quarter, when the linemen didn't get any pass rush and just stood up, he didn't call blitzes. I think thats questionable. Perhaps he felt that blitzing is what gets us into trouble with running QBs, but I feel that a few more should've been called to wake things up.
Steele's scheme was good, and as far as adjustments in the 4th I don't think there were many, and I didn't notice them. We just played better up front, and Newton is young. Freak athlete, but still inexperienced. There were plays where guys were open and he stared them down, and he just doesnt execute the offense like he should.
I only believe the OL imposed their will on the first drive and the one at the end of the 3rd. Otherwise it was between average and bad, and mostly due to the pass protection. Freeman whiffed on some LB blitzes up the A-gap, I don't think he had a great night. Whomever got matched on Nick Fairley had a bad night, both sides, but McClain handled him better than the others. Hairston will have a rough time with Miami's DE's I think.
Auburn got rush with 4 linemen consistently. They blitzed on passing downs. We called some screens to check that up, which was great by Napier, but when its clear we can't block a guy, and the QB can't get hit anymore, I think the protection needs adjusting. I did not notice that adjustment. Only thing we did was roll Kyle out and he's still getting hit.
Y'all know I love the Iso and Power, but Napier stuck to them too much. Auburn took them away and we kept pounding away with Harper with them. I don't see why when AE eats them up on almost every zone play. Napier ran most plays to the boundary (because of numbers), and when they picked that up they slanted that way, and stopped us cold. Napier did adjust, just took too long.
Harper should not have been out there at RB, let him play catch from H-back if he doesnt want to run. 19 carries for 44, and note that one rush was for 17. Look at the numbers of 1-3 yard rushes for him. Two of his carries were totally busted plays (e.g. the 1st drive bust). Ellington is getting 8-12 per clip on those zones. Its not like AE caught fire in the 3rd, pumping up his stats, he was doing it all night. Jamie Harper only seemed to do it when the OL pushed them well out of the hole. Tell me how that doesnt recall images of Reggie being taken out against SC or the misuse of James Davis?
WRs: If Ashe couldn't block I dont see why anyone would play him. Dye is almost the same. Both are seniors, and neither can make themselves get open. Only thing I see them doing consistently is blocking. Auburn played us Man for 2/3 of that game, and we didnt get open. Auburn's secondary is not good folks, but you wouldnt say it after this game. Only player that I would say really showed up to make plays in the passing game is Dwayne Allen. Harper's catch was a thing of beauty, the throw too. Auburn couldn't touch him, as Tommy Thigpen said in his TI interview, they've got no one to handle Allen. That is one reason they did use more zone in the 2nd half.
I said in the Game Preview that they would stick with their base scheme, and they did exactly that. Robber defense with a Slide front 4-3. Occasional zone. Blitzing in their spots with the LBs. Nothing new from Auburn.
Parker busted his ass all night. He let some sail for not setting his feet, even before the injury, but after the hit it got worse. Parker gave them the best chance to win and I would not have tested Boyd out there. He'll get his shot at Auburn in Death Valley. A few key drops cost us drives, and I believe we had 4 or 5 total.
In the Game Thread I said this:
Clemson will win IF
- We are able to run the ball inside consistently against a talented Auburn front, and play keep -away. Though they may be less talented than our own, they play a rather simple scheme and play it really well.
CU must be sound in the kicking game. Punt returns and kick returns will always be a defining factor against evenly matched teams.
Billy had the right plan initially with screens, draws, and playing keep-away. Being late on some adjustments and playing Harper at RB really decided it though.
I would've liked to see some shots downfield against that suspect secondary, but if they can't get open, and the OL cant give Parker a 3-count, not much point in that. It would've definitely stopped some of that blitz though.