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Music City Bowl film review


ESPN Play-by-Play

In our last film review until next season, we wont be going play-by-play, but looking for the highlights and good plays. 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. If theres anything that you would like to see or have explained, just ask.


1st CU drive starts at our 22. 3 & out. Sweep to Spiller gets 4, but stopped for short gain on the next play which was from the Pistol formation. 3rd & 6, empty set, thrown to ground at Palmer's feet.

I am happy to see Clemson use the Pistol instead of running from the usual Shotgun formation. It allows the RB to gain some momentum and hit the line with more speed.

Kentucky starts at their 39. Toss sweep for 2, good play by McDaniel coming through the blockers.... Crossing route in front of the safety gets 9, surprised they didnt come up and level him.....Randall Cobb on a Wildcat snap off-tackle, poor angles by Clemson, goes for 11....quick out to Locke, Gilchrist fights off a blocker well, but gets a face mask penalty on the tackle....Crezdon Butler gets juked by Chris Matthews on a Corner route for the TD in Cover 3 (1/4, 1/4, 1/2). 7-0 KY, 7 plays 61 yards, 03:04

Really just a good move by Matthews on Butler, and Butler committed to a slant/post and it was too late. He was playing deep zone and matched up too early on the route. Clemson is playing Nickel defense, with Cover 2 and Cover 3. Clemson defense certainly appears faster than Kentucky.

2nd CU drive starts from our 20. Zone to Harper for 3....Empty set, quick out pass to Jacoby for 8....Empty set, Parker rushed and dumps it to Palmer over the middle for 18....Strong I, inside zone to Spiller for a couple. Left side of the line appeared to release too soon...PA pass, thrown away as Parker is rushed by Corey Peters....Parker low throw to Jacoby incomplete. Punt. 6 plays 31 yards, 02:52

Why the empty sets? Why are we throwing this much with Spiller? Clearly a commitment to throwing the ball and zone running plays early here. Basically a reversion to the Spence system so far. I dont like these playcalls.

Kentucky starts from their 10.  Newton slant pass dropped by Mathews. Clemson playing nickel but dropping DMac into the box pre-snap....Screen play blown up, intentional grounding not called. Jeremy Campbell read it perfectly....3rd & 10 play, Sapp runs right around LT and no Robber left to watch Newton in Zero coverage, gains 24 yards on the scramble....Branch forces Locke out of bounds, good pursuit angles and discipline by perimeter defense....Goodman comes free unblocked and has Newton by facemask, and still can't tackle him. Pitiful, if youre going to grab his mask, DRAG HIS ASS TO THE GROUND....Cobb wildcat right up the gut for 9, poor gap control, LBs blocked upfield....Jet sweep from wildcat to Locke for a 1st, Kevin Alexander not where he's supposed to be....Wildcat again off-tackle, well strung out by Corico....Option play blown up by Bowers, Conner, and DMac for loss....Zone blitz, Conner sack forces them to punt. 9 plays 51 yards, 05:01

Good call by Steele there on 3rd down with the zone blitz. Clemson sticks with Nickel and drops DMac into the box pre-snap to defend the run quite often, otherwise its the UNDER front with KA in at SAM. We are playing quite a bit more zone today than I expected.

3rd Clemson drive starts at the 10. Ellington zone up the gut for 4....PA pass to Spiller up the sideline on a little dump pass flare route for 42, then he fumbles it out of bounds....Pistol, Ellington zone for 12. Freeman can do a better job blocking than that, didn't handle his man that well to be honest....Parker PA pass to Jacoby Ford on a 32 yd post. Palmer runs a clearing corner route, but KY is giving us straight man/man Zero coverage, no deep safety. 7-7, 4 plays 90 yards, 01:59

As in normal shotgun, the Pistol run plays are almost always zone blocked. Not one normal I-formation play run in the 1st quarter, after we killed GT with it. Part of the reason is the scheme KY is deploying against us, its quite similar to the style of defense that WF and BC play up front, called "gap air mirror" or GAM. Basically they play gap sound and stick in their gaps, and slant a fair bit, which is meant to defeat the I-formation run plays we normally use. Not sure why Kentucky went Cover 0 there, I'd always have a deep safety to help against any Ellington/Spiller/Ford route.

Kentucky starts at their 28.....END OF 1st....Dumped in flats to their TE, Conner there for open field tackle...DMac plays wheel route well but they get the 1st down...Conner charges up his gap on a wildcat sweep for a loss. Why didnt he do that against GT?....Conner again makes tackle breaking a screen pass, and again we get a hand on Newton but cant tackle him....3rd & 4, Byron Maxwell had his head turned away from the ball when it was in the air, and got called for PI.....DMac and Hawkins charge their gaps to stop Cobb up the gut, but DMac really made the play himself and ran maybe 10 yards....Another screen, Thompson runs him down. Goodman again came free and couldnt get to Newton in time....4th and half a yard, Jenkins jumps offsides....Power off-tackle, DMac read it and was in the backfield when he got the ball....KY delay of game...good perimeter defense by Hawkins and the safeties hold them to a FG. 39 yd FG, 10-7 KY, 12 plays 51 yards

Perimeter defense is much improved over Georgia Tech. They are stringing out plays and then charging through their gaps. Kentucky is running off-tackle because Jenkins/Thompson are getting such great jumps off the snap that they are in the backfield in seconds. Thats also partly why they are throwing so many screens. Kavell Conner is having one of his best games of the season.

But again, Clemson makes bonehead plays on conversion downs. Maxwell PI, and 2 facemasks, and then jumping offsides on 4th down. We keep teams in it when we stop them.

4th Clemson drive starts at the 38. Harper Iso off-tackle for 26....Harper I-formation zone play for 33yds off a cutback...Chad Diehl laid two guys out on those plays....Isolation down to the 1.... QB sneak gets zilch, no push....Isolation Harper TD, another great block by Diehl. 14-10 CU,  5 plays 62 yards, 02:10

See Billy, when we go I-formation, we kill people.

Kentucky starts on their 24. #27 misses a tackle and Locke gets 5....KY goes for it on 4th and 2 inches, and they stood Thompson/Jenkins up for the 1st, not low enough....DMac charges into backfield after the ball is snapped and Bowers drags down Locke, but gets the 1st on the next play....Morgan Newton throws to a covered Cobb on a post, but Flanker was wide open. I dont know what the hell the Corner was thinking, there was no one assigned to #1 deep and he went with #2. If #1 goes vertical, you go with #1. Cover 2 coverage and the safety should've had Cobb. That could've been an easy TD had Newton looked for him.....on 4th and 1, KY decides to run Off-tackle, for some strange reason, but get false start. Punt. 10 plays 26 yards.

Pretty good drive by the defense.

5th Clemson drive from the 14. Pistol, handoff to Spiller for 9. Empty set on 2nd and 1? Pass thrown behind Brandon Clear by 5 yards, looked like wrong route to me. He went on a Dig, when Parker threw an Out. McClain got illegal use of hands, basically stuck his hands under the guy's facemask. Someone on the right side forgets to block on a zone handoff, but we run the clock off.

Halftime. 14-10 CU

Clemson defense was on the field for 20 minutes in the 1st half. As has been the theme in the 2nd half of the season, we kill ourselves on 3rd downs with penalties, and dont get off the field as soon as we could. Kentucky is having success running the ball but their passing game is rudimentary in terms of scheme and the execution looks like one being run by a freshman QB. Tackling was good, perimeter defense good, gap control for the most part was OK. DMac is making plays by himself and guessing what they'll do.

154 total yards allowed, 74 passing, 80 rushing.

Offense - moving the football well enough but with only 21 plays, but Parker inaccurate on some throws and not much push up front by the right side. Both Harper long runs were off the left side. Not much intention by Napier to run normal I-formation plays, and more shotgun and empty sets. Looks more like a Spence offense than what we saw late this season. I'm struggling to see the reason why.

193 total yards, 100 passing, 93 rushing.

3rd Quarter

KY gets the ball on their 25. DMac comes from nowhere to stop Locke for no gain....Locke gets 18 on an Isolation, Conner stood up by the FB....Thompson offsides on an incompletion. Killing ourselves....Locke gets 8 off-tackle because Sapp cant get off a block....Branch completely misses Newton in the backfield, weak effort at the tackle going for his feet, scramble for short gain....Hawkins comes up on a delay zone blitz and forces an early throw short of the 1st, 44yd FG. 14-13 CU,  10 plays 48 yards, 04:47

Aside from the isolation run and that Ricky Sapp isn't getting off blocks well (at all in this game), it wasn't a bad drive. They hit their dumpoff passes and get 4 yards per carry to execute downfield. Deep coverage is very solid.

1st Clemson drive of 2nd half starts from our 20. Spiller zone for 1, no blocking on right side...Parker scrambles for 1st down....Great catch by Palmer on a crossing route for 21, we'll really miss his hands next season....Spiller cuts back a stretch play into the boundary, for 6. Landon Walker not hustling with his block....PA flare route to Spiller for 12....Ellington zone play, but ran right over Diehl who had gone down to cut block, and got tackled....Pistol handoff to Spiller on a zone to left side, and someone comes from the RIGHT side to tackle him, McClain's man of course....Parker scrambles right, throws incomplete. Jackson misses the 44yd FG. 11 plays 54 yards, 05:41

How many times have I seen Parker scramble to his right, then make a terrible throw? Why do we not scrap the zone plays when I-formation worked? Get under center, line up with Diehl and you'd see Spiller break one. Instead we run sideways or on zone plays that aren't working.

KY takes over on their 26. Draw play to Locke for 8, and if Cobb had blocked he'd have had a 1st down....3rd & 2, Hawkins misses tackle on Cobb in the backfield for 1st down....Jenkins and Bowers blow through backfield to stop next play for a loss....Zone blitz on a screen, Campbell again plays it right and stops it. Punt. 6 plays 16 yards, 02:57

Another good drive by defense. Kentucky showing good bit of WIldcat again, but just arent getting the blocks on us.

Clemson starts on our 20. 3 & out. Downfield blocking poor on a stretch play, McClain standing around....Parker rolls out and throws into 4 or 5 white jerseys, stupid throw, and Freeman was illegally downfield.....Not sure what was up with the next play. KY had everyone covered, and Spiller was standing there waiting on a white jersey, turned to Parker and he tossed it to him, went out of bounds for short gain. I can't tell if that was designed that way or not. Punt, and a weak one of 24. 

Start of 4th Qtr.

KY starts from the Clemson 49. 3 & out, Kavell Conner and DMac blow up a Wildcat keeper, Thompson jumps in the backfield and DMac strings another one out, and then a 14 yd punt.

Kentucky squanders a TO and field position. They have no answer for DeAndre McDaniel. I don't understand why they dont attack him in coverage to keep him honest. He's been charging into the box pre-snap from his normal C2 position and they have not taken advantage of it. I'd run the TE down the seam, but I'm not sure if their TE is fast enough to run by him.

3rd Clemson drive starts from our 38. 3 & out. Spiller makes himself 5 yds on one zone play, loses 5 the next because of GUESS WHO at RG. 3rd & 10, empty set, Palmer is well behind everybody on a corner route, and it sails past his fingertips. Punt.

Palmer should've caught that ball. 

From KY 13, Conner forces a fumble on McCaskill on what was really a bad arm tackle. Jarvis Jenkins recovers.

4th Clemson drive from their 19. First play appears to be the same one Clemson used with Kyle Browning against Tennessee. Kind of a fumblerooskie, or what they call the Panther play. Went for 3 yds.....Parker zone read for 8....Spiller isolation, cut back for the TD. 21-13 CU

See Billy, when we go I-formation, we kill people.  Parker should honestly be running a zone read more often than he does, we execute that better than the usual zone handoff in the shotgun but you still have to call that to keep them honest.

From KY 15. Montell Allen for 15 up the middle, poor gap control. People out of position......Newton hits Cobb amid 2 Clemson LBs, Campbell bad coverage on him, goes for 14....Thompson blows up an inside handoff....Newton breaks Thompson's tackle on the sack, goes for 6....Slant to Cobb, dropped. Then Hawkins flattens him....Fake punt ran for 9 yards, just well blocked off the perimeter by Kentucky.....Newton lazily tosses one and Gilchrist should've picked it off on 3rd down. Hit him almost in the chest.....4th and 8 with 5:38 left from the CU 32, KY goes for it, and Newton scrambles for 7. Sapp ran him down from behind.

Disappointing drive by the defense, to let them move from their 15 into scoring position, but we stopped them.

Clemson takes over on downs at the 25. Spiller for 16 on a zone cutback....Holding on McClain on a short run by Harper....I-formation, Spiller for 8 off tackle....I-form, Spiller Iso for 15....WHERE WAS IT ALL DAY BILLY...Harper for 2, on an Iso, McClain again....I-form, Harper Power play for 6, and again on 3rd & 2 to end it.

Best rushing drive of the game was all I-formation, SURPRISE BILLY.

Summarizing thoughts....

What the hell is the problem Napier? You take what works all year, and scrap it with a different gameplan that doesnt really work, a la USuC. The zone runs that we tried all day never did squat. The I-formation that worked, you won't run enough of. Why Chad Diehl is not on the field when we run the ball a majority of the time, I dont know.

Clemson Offense: 321 yards, 180 rushing but 40 of that on the last drive to ice the game. 

Spiller, 15 car, 67 yds. Harper 8 for 79, so why not more carries for Harper? Oh thats right because we cant run the I-formation when it works.

Kyle Parker 8/14, 141yds, 1 TD. This should be more like 10/14, Parker must work on accuracy this offseason for this team to improve in 2010.

Kentucky's defense did play really solid, if not for the turnover the game would've been 14-13, same as the 1993 Peach Bowl when we beat them in West's first game. They got off blocks well.

Defensively, DMac played his best game of the year, start to finish. Conner played well. Aside from a couple plays, so did Campbell and Hawkins in place of Brandon Maye, who only was in a few plays because of a knee injury.

The defense played their gaps well for the most part, the LBs held their gaps and went to open holes, and people made their tackles. This is the main reason we shut down the wildcat formation for the first time this year. 167 yards rushing allowed on 49 carries. 110 yards passing allowed on 15/26. I'm surprised KY didnt air the ball out more, and as I said above, they could've attacked McDaniel for jumping into the backfield every play, yet never did.