FF:Clemson came out and played the way that everyone expected the Tigers to play all season long. The offense was able to string together plays that built off of one another the defense bottled up Skinner and played particularly well. While this is a nice win for the team, we all should be cautious what we take from this game due to the questionable overall football aptitude of this week's opponent.
Overall, the team came out with a high enthusiasm level, which is understandable after the embarrassment in College Park and the criticism from all angles over the past two weeks. As previously stated, there were a lot of good things and some bad things that happened against Wake. Check out the action and commentary below.
**Note to Mike Hogewood, Clemson's current defensive end is RICKY Sapp. Patrick Sapp is a former Clemson QB/LB who played for the Chargers and is currently attempting to do some sideline reporting for Clemson Sports Network and usually sounding like a drunk idiot. (BRING BACK RODNEY!)
**Rick "Doc" Walker did not disappoint us by saying something ridiculously out of control in the first half, suggesting that (paraphrase) he would "pull a pint of his (Kyle Parker's) blood and freeze it for next week". Raycom Vampire? Fantastic.
Wake started the game with an on-sides kick attempt. Why you give up this kind of field position when you know that your opponent's offense has struggled all season makes no sense to me, but Clemson will take this gift to open the contest.
After the game Jim Grobe confirmed it was intended to be a skyed kickoff, and he got under it.
Offensive Drive #1 at WF 46
Clemson unsuccessfully ran the ball a couple of times on first down here. It was obvious that Wake was going to make Clemson beat them through the air, keying on early run plays. Clemson countered very well with a nice catch by Ashe, a couple of nice grabs by Palmer, a toss to Spiller, and a lot of play action. The use of play action on this drive obviously froze the Wake defense and allowed some nice gains through the air, culminating with a great pitch and catch to Palmer in the end zone. The offensive staff did a great job of running initial plays and building off of these plays into a rhythmic and fluid drive.
Run, P, R, PA P, PA P, PA P to Palmer for the TD. Watch Palmer turn around the safety by jumping inside too soon on him, then he runs right by him.
Defensive Series #1
Jarvis Jenkins played really well here, Ricky Sapp as well. He was quick and destructive against the Wake offense. Skinner has some time to throw, but the Tiger secondary ensured that Wake only got 3 offensive plays this series.
Offensive Drive #2
Kyle Parker made a great play on this drive by looking, scrambling, then tucking the ball for a nice 7 yard gain. This is what we have been looking for out of KP all year. After a short gain, the OL gets a huge negative. Wake's DT put a simple inside move on McClain and ran past Freeman to sack Parker.
R (cuz Austin got beat on speed rush), R, Pass/Sacked. It was a Gun Trips Field with a TE and Spiller on a wheel/flat route, and only 5 protecting.
Defensive Series #2
Bowers did a good job getting up field. I will probably say this a few times, but Bowers is nothing short of a beast...big, fast, strong, and agile. He got his clock cleaned by a 185lb WR on the boundary though, tell us why our WR cant make blocks like that? I was a little disappointed with the tackling (and overpursuit) here, but was impressed by the int by McDaniel. He made a nice break on the ball from the center field position and picked it clean.
Offensive Drive #3
Finally, some sort of draw play! I absolutely love the QB draw play here. KP showed off his wheels and picked up a nice gain. This play call was fantastic and really threw off Wake's defense. The Spiller run was a good example of what can happen with zone blocking. Clemson's zone blocking produces strike outs or big gains. Spiller made an excellent inside out cut and picked up a chunk of yards. These plays work well with a back by Spiller because of his excellent ability to cut against the grain and pick up 15-20 on his own. I really liked the play action to Palmer and hitting Allen out of the left TE position. Two things bothered me with this drive. First, at the goal line, Clemson got zero push up front (as usual). Second, we line up in a 5 wide formation here. Dye has to MAKE himself get OPEN there. He got zero separation. I hate the lack of execution (no push) and strategy (5 wide) when you have a chance to punch it in. Jackson hammers home the short FG and the Tigers go up 10-0.
R,R, PA P, P, R, R, P, FG. 8 plays 58 yards 2:59.
Defensive Series #3
Wake was able to move the ball here, too well. WF got some push up front on early in this possession. I noticed Ricky Sapp getting around pretty easily here. Sapp showed his speed and agility all day. Clemson for most of the day played the corners pretty close to the line. Riley Skinner was able to scramble for a huge 3rd down gain during this drive. This is one of the few times all day the defense lost him. Tigers hunker down and force a (badly) missed FG from the Preachers.
We might chart the defenses we show and the number of blitzes we run in the coming weeks.
Offensive Drive #4 starts at the CU 34
Jamie Harper finally appeared to get going on this drive. He had a big run to start the series and was not brought down with an finger-tackle. J. Ford had a nice, long grab off of a 51 yd play action pass on the next play to the 3yd line. I like the design of this play, as Clemson motioned Palmer and kept him in to block. Harper also threw a block to give KP a chance to heave the ball up. Ford came back to the ball and made the catch on what looked like a Post. Clemson then runs option, with Parker making an acrobatic leap to score. Good execution for all four plays by all aspects of the team (play design, play call, hard running, good throw, good receiver play, max protection).
R, PA Pass, R, R for TD. 17-0 4 plays 66 yards.
Defensive Series #4
The defensive front (led by Bowers) had a great series. Three and out for the D.
Punt hits Wade's foot, live ball recovered by Wake. This is ridiculous, and has happened two games in a row now. There is no excuse for not getting as far away from the ball when the return man will not field the punt. BC punt is pretty crappy, with no chance for a return. With little sound on the field, I could not hear what was going on, but am sure there was a "Clear" or "Peter" call (these are the code words on punt return that mean "get the hell out of the way, the punt will not be fielded"). This should never happen and is nothing short of poor execution/field awareness. Here is where we lost it for the only time of the day.
Defensive series #5
Goodman gets great push here and tosses Skinner down for a sack. Bowers shows off all of his skills and why he was the #1 recruit in the nation a few years ago. Bowers looks like a man amongst boys out there. Three plays for Wake and another punt. Almost a huge pick by Cumbie, Jenkins eats them alive.
Doc Walker on our DL: "they musta had pepah in dey grits"
Offensive Drive #5
KP takes off on a zone read for a short gain, then a screen fails because of a tipped ball by a blitzer off the corner. Clemson had a nice play set up for a huge gain, but KP made his lone poor throw (high) of the day, overshooting an open Jacoby Ford. Clemson is forced to punt.
R, P-i, P-i
Defensive Series #6
Maye was turned around on an early play that could have really hurt the defense. Instead, Wake confuses the Tigers zone turning a short drag route into a huge gain. This was the biggest miscue of the day for the pass defense. There appeared to be some crossing to confuse Maye. The TE released to pull Maye one way, and the slot WR he should've picked up was going the other way, both in front of his face. A helmet to helmet call gives Wake 15 more. Clemson had a few issues wrapping up the ball carrier on this drive. A nice reverse pass back to Skinner put the ball inside the Clemson 10. Seven more yards on a rush took Wake to the 2. Clemson looked a little sloppy until this point in the drive. A quick stop at the 1 and an incomplete pass after a penalty held Wake to a field goal. I was particularly impressed with the speed of Conner at the goal line (play negated after the Tigers accepted a 10 yard penalty on the play). Conner was exceptionally quick, chasing down the running back who bounced outside and seemed destined for the pylon. During the game, I questioned accepting the 10 yard penalty, but I figure the coaching staff was concerned the Wake would go for the TD and punch it in from the 1 on 4th down if given the opportunity.
Offensive Drive #6
CJ does what CJ does, 66 yards on a (33/35) zone run with a fake sweep to Ford. Both TE's were in the game and Walker made a good effort to seal and allow Spiller to make the cut inside, and another by Cloy (playing RG) to seal off the backside of the cutback lane. Once he was to the second level, you all know what happened.
CJ goes over 6000 all-purpose yards.
Defensive Series #7
Riley Skinner really got knocked around here. Clemson brought a few extra guys all series, with Branch and Conner getting sacks here. The latter sack came even as Wake kept extra players in to provide more protection. Clemson uses timeouts well here to get the offense the ball back.
Offensive Drive #7 starts at the WF 41.
Clemson starts with a pair of nice catches by Ashe (he caught the ball!) and Palmer. Palmer's grab was particularly impressive because he did everything correctly. He runs a quick out route (watch how he pushes the defender by selling the fly), plants, and makes a crisp turn, catches the ball with his hands, tucks the ball, turns and gets up field. Fundamentally, Palmer may be the best pass receiver on this football team. After a quick run by Ford (same play run by Spiller before, but on the end-around), Parker appears to have Allen open, but the pass is dropped. While one could argue it wasn't a perfect pass, I was a little heartbroken by this drop. We have been pimping Allen and getting two TE's in the game because they are better receivers and blockers than the WR's, and what does Allen do? He drops the freaking football! This was the sole dropped pass that I can recall on the day. I still like getting both TE's in the game as much as possible. Fortunately for Allen, his teammates picked up for his drop, with KP taking a designed run for 14 yards to the 3. Downfield blocking has improved by the receivers. Harper then punched it in with the help of a nice block by Chad Diehl. Wake's defense looks deflated here.
PA P-i, P, P, R, P-i, R, R. 31-3
Defensive Series #8
WF runs the clock down here. I did notice Jamie Cumbie still had his motor running wide open. It is particularly nice to have a guy like Cumbie to spell the guys up front. He played particularly well throughout the game.
271 yds of offense to 99 for WF, most of which was on 2 drives.
Defensive Series #1
Clemson forces an incompletion, then Ricky Sapp runs right around WF's tackle. Clemson continues to blitz, allows a 9-10 yrd pass completion, and forces another 3 and out for the Demon Deacons.
Offensive Drive #1
Parker, off play action, has a ball batted down and Clemson gets a few yards off of an inside hand off from the gun to Spiller. KP then telegraphs a pass to Taylor that easily could have been picked off. Parker has issues of not looking off defenders and staring at his intended target. Three and out for the Tigers.
PA P-i, R, P-i
Clemson still is not lighting it up on 3rd downs today.
Defensive Series #2
Wake attains consecutive 1st downs to start this drive. Skinner connects for 9 or so to get the initial first, then Wake runs for 15 or so for the second. Clemson had pretty good coverage on the 9 yard pass. The 15 yard run was set up by Brandon Maye being out of position and getting sealed away from the play. Maye plays particularly hard, but often takes bad angles to the ball. Often times, he is too anxious to do too much, becoming his own biggest obstacle. Clemson then forces an interception on a nice play by Butler. His tip ended up in R. Hall's hands coming over from his two-deep position.
Offensive Drive #2
Willy Korn comes into the game at this point. Clemson opens with a pair of runs (5 yrds by Spiller and 6 yrds by Korn). Incomplete pass to Clear. Korn is shifty and can move well (as we all knew), but has had issues throwing the ball. His incomplete pass to Clear was terribly thrown. Ellington then makes a fine run off of a toss out of the shotgun formation. Clemson was able to kick out and seal necessary defenders (David Smith was in and made a big seal) around the LOS to create this space for Ellington to operate. Unfortunately, after quite a few moves and a 30 or so yard gain, Ellington puts the ball on the ground AGAIN. We have been dogging on Harper and begging for more snaps for Ellington, but this fumble does not help that cause.
R, R, P-i, R-Turnover
Korn just has no luck.
Defensive Series #3
After a quick 9 yard completion, Wake commits a penalty and completely stalls, turning the ball over on downs. McDaniel made an excellent tackle, and Brandon Thompson gets it going up the gut, helping keep Wake at bay on both 3rd and 4th and short situations. Their RB missed the correct hole, because they had a surge over there on the right side.
Offensive Drive #3
Jacoby Ford completes a nice one to Xavier Dye off of the option pass. Not only was the ball well thrown, but Dye also made an exceptional catch down the sideline. Out of a 2 TE look, Spiller is able to bust another one on an inside zone for 14 yards and the day's final scoring. Good blocks by D. Allen and C. Lambert to spring him on the left side.
P, P, R-TD. 38-3
Defensive Series #4
Byron Maxwell made an exceptional break on the football and drops an interception (and possibly a touchdown, as he was in open space). Clemson's secondary did a good job here, as Skinner just could not find an open receiver on this drive. Skinner was able to break containment, tuck the ball, and 15 yards. After allowing Wake to convert on a 3rd down attempt, CU holds and Wake is forced to punt.
Offensive Series #4
Will Korn is back in the football game. Harper gets a tossout here in Gun, which he is not suited to. Not a good call. After running for a few yards, Korn connects with Harper on a quick stop route from an empty set. Korn again shows off his rushing ability, and Chad Diehl get a 5 yard carry on the FB Dive. HELL YES! Korn attempted a dangerous pass while on the run here. There was really no reason for him to throw the ball up. Korn gets sacked (had time to throw) and completes another pass to Harper on a bubble screen from an empty set. Punt.
R, R, P, R, R, P-i, Sack, P.
End of 3rd Qtr.
Defensive Series #5
Gilchrist made a pretty good tackle early on. Clemson continues to blitz, and Riley Skinner is taken down with another sack in his last play of the day.
I will not take the time to discuss drive by drive the rest of the 4th quarter, as both starting QB's had already been pulled and this was mop up time. I will elaborate on an item that was particularly displeasing, particularly Cory Lambert getting smoked once again and Will Korn bearing the brunt of this mistake.
Overall, the play calling was night and day from the past few weeks. The play progression made sense. Clemson simplified things. Clemson found a weak point (play action paralyzed the Demon Deacons) and continued to exploit this. CJ Spiller had a nice day. Clemson's O-Line (for the most part) gave Parker time to throw. Clemson's receivers did not drop a pass, and Michael Palmer had another good outing. On the defensive side, there was a small lapse in the second quarter, but otherwise CU did well. Riley Skinner was bottled up all day and Clemson was able to put pressure on him all day.
I really would like to have seen Clemson line up and run the ball down Wake's throat at the end of the game yesterday. However, it is apparent that CU's offensive line does not have that capacity. Clemson's rushing offense is based on zone blocking (because the Tigers can't line up, put a hat on a hat, and push the defense around) and is spotty at best. What you will see out of this strategy is a couple of rushes for 1-3 yards, then a 15 yard gain (with Spiller). This style will not allow the Tigers to methodically move the ball down the field...it's either feast or famine.
Parker did a nice job of using his feet to make plays. He still has a few issues of not looking off defenders (and a mechanical issue), but KP has a cannon. The velocity difference when Parker was substituted out of the game was obvious. We all were impressed with the read and effort on the goal line option play. Kyle (after what appeared to be a 3 week slide) showed improvement since the Maryland game.
Formations and personnel choices were vastly improved this week. The offense committed to getting back to basics with balanced formations and play action. Particularly pleasing was having two TE's in the game either for blocking or receiving purposes. The only complaints arise from the 5 wide, empty backfield formations. Clemson needs help up front with a TE and/or back chipping or blocking oncoming rushers. I have not looked at the film, but will be eager to see the performance (and amount of play) of Cloy at guard and D. Smith at tackle. Cloy has played pretty well at center, so it would be disappointing to move him around for no reason. I have seen enough of Cory Lambert already this season...
Now the reality of this whole thing. This is probably what CU needed, a good outing. Wake is the best passing team Clemson has faced so far, and the Tigers did a good job of neutralizing their senior signal caller. The offensive play calling and execution was much better than the previous 5 games. Clemson looks like it is moving forward. The real test will come next week. Miami is not Wake Forest. Clemson will have to defeat a much better team in South Florida next week. Miami has an offensive line, a dynamic quarterback, and a talented group of receivers. Defensively, Miami will be a lot quicker and the game will need to be played a lot faster agaist the 'Canes. Overall, Clemson will need to execute well in a fascets of the game to keep up with the "U".
Doc: I put in a few comments above but I don't have much to add, except that I would've either grounded the offense in the 4th and worked on the power running, or actually went for the jugular more. I want to beat wake by 80 every time, but we let up on them. Kickoff coverage was suspect and they got to the 2nd level quite a bit on returns. I havent decided whether to clip anything out of the film on this one because there were some good plays to look at, and I might edit this post later to add them.