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Clemson - Florida State film review

ESPN Play-by-Play

I'm going to go pretty much drive by drive here, offense and defense, not every play but most of them, because they were all for yards. See the end for the summarizing thoughts. I've used TNet videos where I think they do well, but they are sideline shots and don't show the plays develop. Please comment and ask questions on what you dont understand, these take a long time to do well. The goal here is to look for good plays and bad technique. I may pull a few plays out to discuss the Clemson offense, and if theres anything that you would like to see or have explained, just ask. 

1st Clemson Drive starts at the CU 24.

Inside handoff to CJ for 3 with end-around motion. Isolation play to CJ for 6.  PA off that Iso to Diehl for the 1st down. Why don't we run this play more to Diehl? PA pass off the first play is incomplete. Spiller underneath catch for 4 on a crossing route. Parker has Ford open on a slant-n-out and it skips off his hands incomplete, throw was high.

40 yard punt was almost blocked, returned 43 yards by Reid. Terrible coverage. People were not in their lanes.

Defensive drive: Ponder take it himself for 4. Off tackle play toThomas gets 5.  Ponder sneaks, gets stopped, and then the referees give him the most beneficial spot I've ever seen. One ref came in from the far side with the right spot, the near ref did not. Tigers blitz on the field side and a pass completed and stopped at the reception point. Thomas gets 5 when he needed 3 for the first, because we missed about 3 tackles. Pass outside is completed, but a holding call pushes them back 10. Thomas gets 10 back, great blocking by their line. Tigers blitz again with Maye running him down for a slight loss. Tigers send a SMOKE blitz (chambers) off the backside and the rushed throw on a corner route is incomplete off his fingers, would've been a great catch, but a holding call nullifies it. Clemson takes the holding call and lets them redo 3rd down? Why?  Shovel Pass to Reed, with the tackle pulling from the back side, gets them most of that 20 yards back, then they kick the 35yd FG. 3-0 Noles

2nd CU drive starts at the 24. Jet sweep to Ford gets 8. CJ takes a 35/37 Iso/blast for 14. (Note that the name "blast" and "iso" are interchangeable) Pass to Dye on a curl gets the 1st. Good PA fake and Palmer gets 5. Toss sweep from the I loses 2. I dont like the attempt Freeman made at a block on this play. Walker and McClain could've done better. Ashe missed a crack. Parker hits Ford for 23 on a Dig. Walker gets raped by Jenkins on a speed rush from a 9 tech (i think) but Parker finds Allen standing open on the backside for the TD.

Snap was wide on the XP, holder barely got it down. 6-3 CU 7 plays 76 yards

Defensive Drive at FSU 22.

Hitch to Reed complete for 9. Next play gets thte first but is stopped because Jenkins blew it up in the A-gap. M. Goodman misses a tackle on an outside zone play for 3, but J. Jenkins commits a personal foul for a head slap to an OL. Touchdown play for 49 was perfectly executed. The FB ran out of the backfield on a perfect TB then orbit motion fake, and the LBs did not pick him up. Conner is responsible for the FB, technically the first back to his side. Gilchrist came up too close to the LOS, because of the end-around, and was out of position to help. 10-6 Noles


3rd CU drive starts at the 28. End around fake and handoff to Spiller loses 3. We still don't fool people in the Gun. Spiller comes out. Parker makes a fantastic play to hit Palmer when the OLB blitzed and Smith couldnt pick him up properly. Short gain. On the INT, Palmer was running a skinny post, and Parker threw it like it would be a vertical fly route, right into the safety's arms. I dont know what he was thinking. Palmer wasnt really open. An underneath receiver was, and he possibly couldve hit the X receiver on a deeper post if the ball was thrown perfectly, but should take the underneath route. 17-6 Noles


4th drive: FSU tries an onside or short kick, which I think is genius, but drive starts at the CU 45. CJ is stopped in the backfield by the backside LB charging up the A-gap to his side unblocked. End of 1st QTR. Parker leads Allen too much on the next throw, gotta work on his short touch throws. Hairston gets whipped by Dekoda Watson and throws it away as he's hit. Punt is dropped inside the 2 yd line.

Defensive drive: Tigers blitz but a hitch is completed to get them out of the hole. Again a Field side OLB blitz but Rennie Moore jumps offsides. Maye gets blocked out, and one of our DTs gets manhandled (jenkins i think) and Thoamas gets 7.  Thomas eludes M. Goodman, when Goodman tries to strip instead of wrap up. Maye doesnt wrap up either but Gilchrist forces a fumble and Hudson takes it another 9. Crossing route gets 7, the the inside guys come through and Maye and Conner knock Thomas around and force a fumble, Hall recovers.

5th drive, starts at FSU 48. Screen for 5, great play call. Dye is hit for 43 in man coverage on a dig/crossing route, FSU blitzed and Clemson was in max-protect. DE jumps offsides when Palmer stands up, bone head didnt realize that the TE can come out of his stance once set. Spiller takes an inside zone for the 2pt conversion on a run-pass option play. 17-14


Defensive drive, FSU 22: Inside run stopped by Jenkins/Thompson holding their ground. Shovel pass stopped by McDaniel in the backfield. Sapp jumps offsides after he was jumping and dancing. Turns a 3rd & 13 to 3rd & 8. Then Clemson gets screwed by Jack Childress' crew.  Complete bullshit call. PI called on McDaniel, but he was blitzing, the penalty was really on Butler. It was outstanding coverage and he was playing the ball on an In route and tipped it in the air. Screen pass to Reed gets 44 to CU 20. Clemson was not prepared, just didnt get settled after that PI. Andre Branch did not read screen when the linemen charged upfield. Maye came in on a PA fake too far, and would've made the tackle around the first down marker if he had not. FSU slides the protection over and leaves a back in to pick up Sapp, but we blitz Maye to this side, Ponder is tackled as he throws and its picked off by Coty Sensabaugh. Ball should not have been thrown into triple coverage (zone it appears).

6th drive starts at the CU 21. Spiller looking like he's lost a step even here. Clemson runs a Trap from the Gun and the DE who was supposed to be trapped nearly tackled Parker for a sack. That is on Austin, who was pulling. He doesnt make up for it on the next play and slips on his block on a bubble screen to Ford, Palmer made the play work, got 16.  Spiller busts them for 45 on a HB Power Play, but got caught from behind at the FSU 19.


Naked bootleg (counter trap blocking) nearly gets us sacked but Parker hits Ford immediately, Ford was lined up as a RB. Dye is hit on a shallow cross against another blitz down to the 1, good effort. FSU lines up with 12 on. Offsides by FSU on the next play. McClain dives in, for what reason I dont know, probably doesnt know the snap count. Loses us 5.  Hairston gets whipped again and Parker fumbles, he saw the rusher and shouldve flipped it at Palmer's feet. Cant take a sack here, but gives it up.

Bare minimum, shouldve had a FG here. From 4 inches away, get the damn TD. Killer penalty on an 80 yard drive.

Defensive drive: LBs charge in, Conner out of position, Thomas gets them out of the hole to the 16. Somebody made him spit out his mouthpiece on the next play though. Ponder lobs a pass and its picked by Byron Maxwell. I dont know what was up there, looked like he expected #80 to run a fade route and he didnt. Throw wasnt great even if that was the case.

7th drive, Clemson starts at the 24. Bad throw to Ford on a quick slip screen, incomplete. Spiller stopped, Slip screen to Ford again gets stopped, just good defense by FSU. Jackson missed the 38yd FG barely wide.

FSU gives us a damn gift, and we do nothing.

Defensive drive: FSU 20. Maye charges into a Guard, blocked out, Conner makes shoestring tackle. Inside guys getting pushed too much here as Thomas gashes us again for 10, Conner makes another critical play. FSU hits 2 hitches and a jailbreak/tunnel screen before attempting a 58 yard FG.....way too short. I'm surprised they did that with this offense.


Clemson's defense has played more Nickel zone, and brought relatively little pressure aside from the down 4. They were too excited in the first 20 game min or so. Every time we have blitzed, it has been pretty successful. Otherwise the pass rush is disappointing. Missed tackles are part of the problem with Thomas, he's a shifty runner, but they are making their blocks up front and we are not getting off them. Deep/intermediate coverage has been good, and secondary tackling was quite good.Cj_heisman_pose_medium

FSU 156 passing, 85 rushing.

Ballgame should be tied at least, and given we had it inside the 1, should be 21-17. No excuse for not getting it in from inside the 1, ever. Most running success was in the I-formation.

CU 159 passing, 63 rushing, most of which was on 2 plays by Spiller.

3rd QTR

1st Defensive drive, FSU opens on their 33. Ponder hits Easterling on an Out, throw barely made it over Maye's hands to the CU 48. Conner blitzes and forces a bad throw by Ponder. 3 & out.

Clemson starts on the 20. Zone handoff to Spiller gets 8. Parker takes one himself for 7, good choice. Jamie Harper came up gimpy on a short yardage dive, thigh bruise. Spiller wheel route off PA to Taylor, basically the same play we scored on with Palmer against Miami, except here Palmer was in motion and Spiller was lined up as a back.


The WLB to the playside hesitated just long enough because of the PA to Rendrick Taylor, and the safety had been cleared by the split end going deep. 21-17 CU

Defensive drive, FSU 26. Clemson clearly changing coverages to more man/man and a little more blitzing. On 3rd & 8 Ponder hits Owens on an In route. Ponder tries going deep to Fortson, but Maxwell makes a great play. Throw was a little off. They had an awesome screen play set, but the RB dropped the ball. On 3rd & 10 Easterling on a double slant pattern gets 16. Ponder again throws deep after being rushed, but leads it too much for Reed, but he was open. Ponder takes a keeper for 9.5 yards. Crezdon Butler on the sidelines with a hip flexor. Both starting cover corners are on the bench. Thomas gashes us up the middle against the Nickel coverage for a first.  Guys are not getting off blocks. Ponder goes to the endzone on Fortson, perfectly thrown but he couldnt maintain control of the ball. I was surprised this was not reviewed. On 3rd & 9 Ponder hits Pryor again in the flat for a 1st. Fisher smartly goes no-huddle and we dont have the right personnel on the field, then we cant figure out who is supposed to be on the field, but the refs saved us by reviewing the prior play.

During the timeout, the defense is clearly frustrated. Swinney and Steele are calming them down. On the TD, our LBs charged and jumped over, but Thomas went under them on an Iso. 24-21 Noles

Worst drive of the game by the defense, but the only points surrendered in the half. FSU clearly frustrated them by converting on 3rd & long 3 times. FSU really just outexecuted us here. It wasnt bad coverage, and slants and crossing routes are the way to attack man/man coverage. I was surprised, however, that we did not blitz more.

Clemson drive starts at the 20. Parker misses a wide-open Allen, throw is behind him. Next play is clearly a bust. I dont know what the goal was, but it appeared to be a backside screen. Linemen had gone downfield like it was a run play, penalty on Cloy, but this one is not really his fault.  Ashe catches a slant for 14. HOLY SHIT ASHE LEARNED TO CATCH SLANTS! Spiller busts an inside zone for 14, then another outside zone for 35.

Intended play to Palmer on the backside was incomplete, but was an excellent playcall by Napier Their DB just kept his assignment. Parker hits Jacoby Ford in the fucking hands on a crossing route, and he drops it. Swinney chewed his ass too. Parker hits Palmer at the post for a TD, but its called back because of Xavier Dye being misaligned. Allen was flexed on the LOS, and was covered up by Dye. Dye should've stepped back one step. Parker runs up the middle for a few. Jackson misses a fucking chipshot 26YD FG. Perfect snap, bad kick.


Killer penalty by Dye, killer. Should be 28-24, then Jackson misses an easy kick, game should be at least tied. Painful. This is a gut-check moment.

Defensive drive: Ponder hitch on a waggle gets a 1st down. lemson blitzes into Ponder's face, another bootleg, and forces an early throw that falls incomplete. Thomas gets 8 after Kevin Alexander fails to wrap up the back, but he did make the tackle. Clemson blitzes Conner on the backside and Ponder hits the RB for the 1st at midfield. FSU tries an orbit misdirection sweep, a stupid call. I would have attacked downfield. Loses them 14. Off-tackle play nets 4 as the quarter ends. Start of 4th Qtr.  On 3rd & 21 they get 13 yards due to bad angles and a WEAK effort of tackling by Sadat Chambers. Punt, and a terrible one out of bounds. Defense comes up with a stop when we really need it.

Clemson drive starts at the CU 20. Parker forces a throw to Allen with Ford underneath. Lucky this was not picked off into triple coverage. Tunnel screen to Ford gets a couple. Parker throws into the arms of a charging LB for a pick-6, I don't know what the hell he was looking at. This was akin to Harper's throw into the NC State LB last year. Offsides penalty nullifies it, thankfully.  Ellington makes an outstanding play, being hit by Watson behind the 1st down marker and charges ahead for the 1st. It really was a terrible tackle by Watson more than anything, he came in high. Parker's throw to Ford on an Out was jumped and again nearly picked off. Punt.

Terrible drive by Parker. Terrible throws. If FSU had made a play, they could've possibly put this game away here.

Defensive drive starts at the FSU 33. Ponder throws one down the sideline on a vertical, and Clemson has great coverage, and Hall picked it off. This is on Ponder, terrible throw, not enough zip. Clemson was playing Cover 2 Man. He makes an idiotic play to pitch it out, trying to make something happen, but luckily Conner picked it up and returned it to the FSU 24. Freshman mistake.

Clemson Drive starts at their 24: Iso nets 4. CJ pulls up on an outside run for 4 more. Pitch gets the 1st down. Iso to Ellington gets 2. Ellington takes an inside 33 zone run for the TD. Great block by Thomas Austin in particular. Benton flat out misses a fucking XP. Jesus Christ. 27-24 CU outstanding drive by the offensive line and the backs.

Game Ending, most clips from the 4th Quarter are in this so I see no need to pull out more. 

FSU starts on their 28. Thomas again breaks two tackles but KA pulls him down for 2yd gain. FSU killing us with slants and hitches. Thomas hesitates on his  hole and is stopped for a loss. I wonder how much Ponder's ribs are keeping him from attempting a deeper throw than these slants and hitches? Clemson blitzes on 3rd down and Ponder throws it away. Punt.

Clemson starts on their 26 with 6:30+ on the clock. Mode here should be to grind it out. Parker takes a zone read for 9 and a 1st down, excellent play call by Napier. Isolation is cut back by CJ outside for another 1st down. Ellington takes another Blast 44 yards on a cutback after a missed tackle by Marcus White. CJ takes it for 4 on another lead play. PA play to Durrell Barry hits the TD in the back of the endzone. Clemson set this play up PERFECTLY by running the ball all the way down here. Good call by Napier. Jackson hits the fucking upright. 33-24 CU.

Goddamn I love the I-formation, we pounded their asses on this drive and needed it. OL deserves alot of credit for manning up.

FSU starts on their 23, 3:59 on the clock. Great play by Conner to stop a flare route, man coverage. DeAndre picks off a throw by jumping the route, then lays out Ponder. Great instincts but FSU set this up by hitching and slanting us all day.


Clemson gets the ball at the FSU 5. CJ takes a Blast/Iso in for the TD.  Jackson finally KICKS IT THROUGH. HOLY SHIT. 40-24 CU. Goddamn I love the I-formation.

FSU gets the ball after a personal foul on the kickoff on their 12. E.J. Manuel in at QB with a little over 3min on the clock. McDaniel nearly picks off a pass that would've been 6. They go for 4th down and Manuel is sacked by Chavis and Alexander, though I don't see it recorded as one in the stats.

Clemson takes over on downs at their 17. Dabo calls for the V formation, I wouldnt have. Too many years of being slammed by FSU, i'd have put another TD on the board.


Well, that offensive performance was the best I've seen all year, supported by the graph below, thanks to FSUncensored at Tomahawk Nation. Clemson's OL toughened up and pushed around Florida State throughout the 2nd half. Very little pressure came into Parker's face, if any. C.J. ate their defense alive on a gimpy leg, and Ellington showed flashes of how he could be Spiller's successor next year.


Parker had a couple off-drives. The one in the 4th quarter could've easily killed us, but FSU did not make the plays that we gave them. We made the INTs that Ponder gave us. Thats the difference between a 6-3 team and a 4-5 team.

If you wonder why we're executing better, look at who is not mentioned: Jones, Clear, Brown, Taylor. These guys are getting on the field a bit, but nothing is coming their way. Ashe, Dye, Ford, Palmer....these guys are in on every play. The backup linemen didnt stand out to me in either light, aside from a play David Smith missed. McClain possibly cost us another 6. Hairston got beat badly early by blitzing LBs and speed rushes, but pulled it together. Aside from those complaints, and the trap play and screen that Austin missed, the line had great day.

Kicking and kick coverage = shit. We did have a couple nice kick returns.

Defensively, we played more zone in the first half and a little more man in the 2nd. Steele did not blitz much. FSU dinked and dunked down the field with underneath crossing routes, which is their forte, and Steele was willing to give it to them to make them execute all the way down the field against us. Good deep coverage by our secondary and the zone kept things in front of them. Secondary tackling was great. However, there was alot of bad tackling by the front 7. The Line did not get off blocks, but I will give credit to FSU for making them stick. This is a very good OL we played against, better instructed at zone blocking than ours is. Ours would not have handled our DL this well. Sapp was able to get some speed rushes, as did Branch, but Ponder doesn't hold onto the ball long enough to get sacked. Clemson's best pressure were with Maye and Conner coming in on delayed blitzes.

I still think that this game should not have been in doubt as late as it was.