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Clemson - NC State film review

Tigers vs Wolfpack boxscore

Tigers vs Wolfpack recap

ESPN Play-by-Play

We're not going to go quite as in-depth as for our FSU review, but will go drive-by-drive. 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. The goal here is to look for both 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 CU Drive: NC State refuses to kick deep to CJ and Clemson starts on their 37. Kasey Nobles fumbles the kickoff return but recovers. He wasn't prepared to handle that return, it took a bad bounce though. Blast play for 6 from the I. Palmer gets a 1st down on a shallow cross/drag route. Spiller is stopped for a loss on an off-tackle lead play due to a run blitz. Parker puts a bit much on the next throw to Spiller from an empty set. He still needs to work on some touch throws. Hits Spiller underneath again short. Punt

1st Defensive drive: NCSU starts from their 7. Two good plays by Conner to start, but still get 9 yards. Another inside zone play gets 7 yards, really just great effort by Baker here. Clemson is showing a 3-4 front. KA whacks Wilson's arm to go incomplete on his first throw. There was obvious holding on the play. Chancellor was in perfect position to knock the ball away on a fly route. Terrible looking punt but ends up at 35 yards.

We were vulnerable to zone blocking run plays here, the same thing our defense sees from our offense.

2nd CU drive. Fear of Spiller gives Clemson the ball at our 41.  Parker goes deep to Ford, I like the call here, go right at this porous pass defense. Ford got pushed out of bounds by a Linebacker. Spiller takes a zone dive from the Gun for 30 yards. This has to be the best run from the Gun I remember this year. Screen to Harper, who then pushes inside on the next play. OL is pushing them around at the POA inside. HB Power gets the first. Ford runs a Corner route, but Parker underthrew it and late. This ball should be over Ford's outside shoulder. Nearly picked by the Safety coming over to help. Zone play to Spiller down to the 11, good initial push by Freeman and Austin here. Parker pass batted down.

Benton sends a dead duck through the uprights, 3-0 CU.

Two drives in, its clear to me that we are able to handle them inside. Probably the first time this year that our OL has been able to whip someone up front in the 1st quarter. Theres a clear trend to go with more I-formation running than zone.

2nd Defensive drive, NCSU 20. Williams drops a 15 yard gain on McDaniel. Clemson playing matchup Cover 2 zone. Clemson sends a WHAM blitz, Maye forces an early throw and we get screwed by a PI call. Gilchrist had his arm around his waist, which is what you TEACH a back to do when the ball is about to be caught. Wilson gets 12 on a bootleg keeper because the DE took a bad angle (too shallow) and lost containment, can't see his number but think its Branch. Jarvis Jenkins eats up a run play for a 4 yard loss.Butler makes a good play to bat down a ball. Maxwell picks off a pass at our 25 that was underthrown and I dont think the receiver looked early enough.....both those balls were underthrown actually. Clemson had a delayed blitz on the play with both LBs.

Clemson D allowed 30 yards in the 1st quarter.

3rd CU drive from our 25. Ellington Iso for 5. Pressure forces an early throw to sail high. They blitz and Dye catches a shallow cross for a 1st down. They had bracket coverage on Ford on that play and the deeper SS was worried about him and not Dye, apparently they learned not to match Ford on a LB, but they had a LB on Dye. Zone play is stopped, Spiller appeared to cut away from his blockers, and could've had another 3 yards. Spiller on a Gun zone play again didnt charge into the available hole and gets no gain. Palmer catch of 22 right down the middle. NC State is playing a 4-3 Stack and Nickel, basically dropping the safety down in the box as the 3rd backer, with Cover 2 and Cover 3 zone. I'm surprised Palmer was that open but he found a hole in the zone in front of the deep FS. Spiller zone play up the gut for 9, good effort by Dwayne Allen to stick with his block. END of 1st qtr. Ford takes the end around for the TD.  GREAT BLOCKING BY DYE AND PALMER to set this up, good seal block by Walker. 10-0 CU. 9 plays 75 yards

Defensive Drive from the NCSU 20. 3 & out. Owen Spencer could've made the catch but we were right there with him. Clemson showing an 8 man front and blitzed both OLBs on that play. 3rd & 12 and Miguel Chavis on an inside stunt gets the sack. Horrible 6 yard punt follows.

4th CU Drive from their 17. Spiller HB Pass to Dye for the score. Looks like a Rodney Williams-style wobbler. 17-0 CU. This play is on the free safety, he took a bad angle and should've picked up Dye as he released but was worried about Spiller. The corner allowed Dye to release because he was watching Spiller, as he should in Corner Support.

Defensive drive from the NCSU 20. Campbell looks slow on a play, and doesnt hit the hole, and instead the OLineman, and they end up with 11. A 12 yd pass hits Owen Spencer in the chest and he drops it. KA rushes off the end and gets a hand or a finger in Wilson's pads and jerks him down, then Maye dives on him at the end for the personal foul. Stupid penalty on 3rd & 11. Wilson's first completion comes on a hitch in a Smash pattern. Davis drops another pass from Wilson. Brandon Maye called for PI within the 5 yard contact zone on a zone blitz. 4 yard penalty but gives them a first down on 3rd down. McDaniel is a step late on a coverage for 16, then Sensabaugh bit on a pump fake and left his receiver for the TD. 17-7, 12 plays 80 yards

Stupid penalties. They would not have scored here if not for Maye's first one.

5th CU drive from our 43. Again Nobles fumbles it. We go back to more zone run plays. McClain gets downfield for a penalty, not accepted. He wasn't looking at the LOS, just jogging to the side Parker scrambled to. NC State playing Cover 3 zone (actually a Tampa 2 in Nickel, which is C3), and Ford gets down the middle on a post route for 47. Nobody picked him up. Palmer runs a little pump route and nobody looks at him. 24-7 CU, 6 plays 57 yards


Defensive drive starts at their 25. Toney Baker giving us trouble, falls forward and pushes our guys around. Thompson misses a clear TFL, then tips a pass at the line. Another missed TFL gets them 6, cant get the number. Wilson throws across his body to hit the TE matched on Conner, but great play by them. Maye sack as Wilson scrambles. NC State is using slide protections to counter our blitzes. McDaniel has WIlson in his grasp on a blitz and lets him go, pass incomplete. I can't believe McDaniel didnt bring him down. 8 plays 27 yards

6th CU Drive from the 13. Some good runs until the quarter ends. Zone read, Gun zone dive, 34 zone. Cloy gets a snap infraction, likely because he hasnt been playing Center much lately.


Defense had some bad penalties, and we aren't getting any holding calls. Their guys can't catch the football. Branch and Sapp were clearly held on some plays. 30 yards allowed in the first quarter.

Wilson 4/14, 49, 1/1. Baker 9 car. 39 yds.

Offensive line is pushing them around. We went with more I-formation early and then to zone runs.

Parker was just off on a few throws. 7/13, 107, 1 TD.

Spiller, 9 car 54 yds.

Defensive drive starts on the 25. Gilchrist beat for 21 . Sapp has a sack and loses contain on WIlson, then he scrambles and Campbell horse-collars him. Jenkins also blew right by his man on this play. Goodman clearly gets chop blocked, no call. Cumbie pushes Wilson when he's already out of bounds, Maye had him for a sack in the backfield and took a bad angle, another stupid penalty. Butler is beat for the 6 by Jarvis Williams, lost position and turned his hips too early. 24-14, 9 plays 75 yards

Wilson had a 1st down on the late hit call already, just gave them a free 10.

1st CU Drive from the 40, kicked out of bounds.  Zone run to Spiller, then a little flare for the 1st. Ford gets a ruboff screen for 8. More zone runs. The Spiller fumble...then we snap the ball and no whistle is blown until the play's forward progress is stopped.

This was a fumble. I see it from the forward angle and the rear angle, thats a fumble. His knee grazes the ground at the same time the ball is out of his grasp. I can see 3/4 of the football there, its out.

Heres what happened: ACC Field refs find out they can give a NC team the football, so they have to do something. We run a play, so they decide they better review the last play, which is against the rules, so they call "no play". Unfortunately, the replay official wasn't in on the fix and reviewed the "no play" instead of the fumble play. Thus, no fumble call.

Had Swoffy been there, we'd have turned the ball over.

Zone read, Spiller takes it in on an Iso from 16 out, great block by Dwayne Allen. Spencer Benton MISSES THE FUCKING XP, HORRIBLE SNAP. 30-14, 7 plays 60 yards.


Defensive drive from their 9. Chancellor PI call. He makes contact and extends his arms, then as he stumbled it looked worse. Davis makes a great catch and McDaniel pops him for it. Inside guys are attacking gaps well. Gilchrist makes a great hit to force a drop. 9 plays 49 yards

Next CU drive starts from our 2. Run, run, run, punt. This is the only spot where I disagree with playcalling, but I do understand the conservatism with this lead. I would've liked to see a play-action pass here to a back or TE, especially on the 2nd down play. Austin goes out. Gun zone dive to Spiller into a blitz...I just wouldnt run shotgun this close to my endzone,  Conservatism gives them field position at our 38 after the punt.

Defensive drive from our 38. THOMPSON CLEARLY HELD on the first play, and they call illegal shift for 5. I can't believe that wasnt called. Jenkins nearly eats up another play and can't make the tackle. Conner lets Baker get behind him on an out-n-up route for 26. Maye just a step too late for a sack. KA has Wilson by his fucking shoe and lets him go. He throws a ball 10 feet over the receivers head and we dont get a grounding call, "because he had an opportunity to catch it" bullshit. FG 30-17, 7 plays 29 yards.

WHY do we not get a holding call today? God forbid a big penalty go against them.

CU drive from the 23. Zone runs. Zone read play-action to Ashe, good call, its been set up well. McClain beaten badly on a speed rush as Parker hits Palmer for 16. NC State fails to respect the wheel route. Benton FUCKING MISSES ANOTHER XP. 36-17, 7 plays 77 yards

Defensive drive from their 32, 3 & out. Branch CLEARLY HELD on the first play. Hall makes a good play as Gilchrist misses a sack.

CU drive from the 31: Jamie Harper 69 yards. Diehl got a great cut block, the WR makes a great block too to seal the Corner. 43-17.

Defensive drive from the NCSU 10. Both LBs get blocked out on a 10 yard gain. Neither fought off the Guards. I see Campbell and Cooper in at LB, with Corico Hawkins and Daniel Barnes on a play or two. Cooper made a good play and then came out. Butler, Maxwell, Gilchrist, Hall are all still in the secondary. FINALLY GET A HOLDING CALL.  Jarvis Williams makes a 34 yd catch, Chancellor out of position to stop it. George drops a pass right down the middle, and I'm wondering why Hall was just standing there. Wilson has a back in the flat and goes deep instead incomplete. Turnover on downs.11 plays 76 yards

Weak drive by the defense. For those saying we are substituting all the backups, thats not entirely true. The LBs on this series were backups. The secondary had Brewer and Meeks on some plays, but otherwise starters. The down 4 basically sub the whole game.

CU drive at the 15: WILLY KORN comes in. Zone runs, zone reads, punt. Willie Young beats Matt Sanders badly through the gap. A weak block by Rendrick Taylor on the last play.

Defensive drive starts from the NCSU 44. Mike Glennon in at QB. Maxwell almost picks off a pass, should've caught it. Blitz forces an incompletion. 22 yard gain against Maxwell because he was playing too soft. Meeks beaten on a post route, safety (Hall) again a bit late in getting over. Meeks totally forgets to cover Williams, and watches the backfield instead. Brainfart. 43-23

No excuse for this drive. Loss of intensity. Some of these are 2nd team guys but they play. It was not all backups in the secondary.

Summarizing thoughts....

Offense executed very very well. I think this was our best full game so far, especially up front. The OL handled their zone blitzes well and run-blocked good. Definitely their best full game performance so far. Downfield blocking by the WRs and TEs was also very good to see.

Rushing from all 3 backs was strong. I would've liked to see Spiller get over 100 though. Harper seems to have clicked in recent weeks; we've been waiting for that to happen.

Parker was good, but still needs to work on touch throws and setting his feet on sideline throws to keep them from being underthrown.

Defense....solid but not great. I did not see alot of emotion from the defense, particularly the front. Mental mistakes cost us dearly, penalties killed us on two drives along with a few missed tackles. I'm also certain there would be one less TD on the board if not for flagrant holding. I'm disappointed by the last TD drive the most, and though they hit the TD on Jonathan Meeks, it wasn't all backups in there.

Toney Baker is a better power back than i realized. He falls forward and carries people with him. Russell Wilson is more elusive than I gave him credit for, really really good feet. You have to wrap this guy up, and several times our Defensive Ends lost some containment. I think Bowers does get him for a sack or two today.