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UNC Game Film Review

I thought about doing the same thing for UNC as I did for Maryland last year, actually going through the formations we're running and the calls on offense only, because the defense did not have a bad game at all really. I decided not to, only because a precise definition of the formations we run would take up more time and you'd forget them all by the end of the review. However, I will make note of the run/pass ratio and how often we are lined up in Shotgun vs. a run-oriented formation with 12/21/22 personnel.

I am not going to go too in-depth on defense though. I'll comment only where I see something bad, so it won't go as play-by-play as usual.

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 did not pull out any plays, we didnt make but two good ones all day. If theres anything that you would like to see or have explained, just ask. 

The animated drivechart is at the end.

ESPN Play-by-Play

CU starts at the 20 - Ace Jumbo formation, Zone up the gut for 5....nullified by flag on Hairston, who got benched immediately thereafter and chewed out....Power left for a couple, why run behind Hairston's backup so soon?....Gun, called draw and AE makes a little of something out of a TFL.

Jumbo Ace is a one-back set with a TE to each side, a common formation we run. Regular Ace is just 1 TE and 1 back.

3 rushes.

UNC gets the ball at our 48 - bad gap control gives them 7 on first play....Quick slant against a LB for the 1st down....Again a quick one outside to the slot, quickly tackled.....Hawk charges his gap, Clemson showing a 9-man front there....Hawk a little behind the slot WR on 3rd and long gets 6-7...4th & 2 at the 26, Quick hitch to Boyd against Maxwell, playing 7 off him (Cover 1)....Jenkins tips pass at line....Screen well read by Thompson again, perfectly read by him. LBs get there on time to make the tackle for short gain....Johnny White left wide open for 10. Difficult to tell exactly who had responsibility here and left him alone, as Maye was blitzing on the backside. To me it appears that either Maye should've backed off his key blitz, or it was Hawkin's man. Honestly it is just a well-executed read by Yates....1 missed tackle outside (LB, Hawk?) gets them another couple. ...Goodman gets Yates on a draw, got cut and still made the play....Gap control, and Maye being blown off the ball, gets them the TD on a Power O play. They had more guys at the POA than we did. 7-0 UNC 12 plays 48 yards, 06:11

We're on the receivers well enough. We're also not playing as much Nickel, Christian is in the game and we're playing our usual UNDER front most of the time. The play to White shouldn't have happened only because the blitz should've succeeded. I hesitate to put that one on the LB to that side, which was Hawkins. Playing Cover 1 and Cover 2 on the drive.

Only call in retrospect that I disagree with is the decision to play 7 off on 4th & 2. Steele did it because Boyd is a burner and you don't want to give up a big play, particularly with us having 8 in the box.

CU starts at the 22 - Gun, Brown on a hitch for 8....I-form, JH iso for 3....Gun, Screen to JH for about 1....I, bubble to Hopkins for 7....I, overloaded with Price in, AE Toss Sweep left for 4....Ace, AE Zone for 5....Gun, hitch to Allen for 4....3rd & 1, QB sneak....I, Iso right and JH is blitzed from backside, 8 men in the box. TFL....Ace 4Wide, bubble to McNeal for a couple....3rd & 4, Gun Trips, JH on a wheel route against their fastest LB? Parker didnt look to the Trips on the other side at all. Punt. 11 plays 39 yards, 05:42

That drive wasn't horrible, but Parker should've looked off the primary wheel route to the trips side. The TFL on JH was just a great play by them, a CB blitzing from the backside unblocked.

Parker probably could've recognized the blitz and checked the protection/play into a zone play and Diehl may have blocked the backside CB.

UNC playing a little mix of Under and Over, Nickel on a couple of the plays. Just what they normally play.

5 rushes, 6 passes.

UNC at their 20 - Maye slow on coverage once on a back....1st QTR ends...1st play after that has Boyd matched up on Jheranie Boyd, and Yates misses him wide open by 10 yards, would've been 6. That is the safety and Christian's fault, looks like zone and in that case, Christian must redirect him out of the seam, but Boyd is just too fast for him. DMac has to get over there. This situation is why we play Nickel instead of base in the first place....Bowers sack, after being cut, coverage sack...Brewer  took the WRONG drop, turned his hips the WRONG way out of the backpedal and Highsmith nearly gets the 1st down.

Thats not every play. We're playing our base defense. I don't know what the hell Brewer was thinking in that coverage. BAD technique.

CU starts at the 27 - Ace, JH sweep R for 6....Gun, Allen up the seam for 9 on an In route....Gun, Counter roll, hits Allen for a couple....Ace, AE Power Left for 4....I, PA hitch to Nuke for 7, didn't see Allen wide open downfield deeper...Ace, PA, Ellington dropped at the sideline, two men open downfield...Gun, Zone read for nothing, correct option by Parker though....3rd & 10, Gun, Trips L, X receiver is WIDE OPEN (Brown? can't tell) and Parker is staring down the middle and short side of the field. Throws incomplete. Punt. 8 plays 30 yards, 03:26

Parker didn't see open receivers on this drive. Twice he hasn't looked at the trips side. He also doesnt appear ready to challenge Deunta Williams.

Running success clearly established through these first two Clemson drives. 3 run plays, 5 passes.

UNC starts at their 1 - 3 & out. DMac makes a great play in the backfield on a Power play. Brewer jumped a slant too.

Clemson starts at UNC 49 - Ace, PA roll out, everyone covered, gets 4 on the ground...Ace, AE Zone right for 6, holding called....2nd & 15, have to pass. Gun Empty, knocked away by LB....3rd & 15, Gun, Parker stares down Jaron Brown up the seam, 24 yd gain....Far I, PA rollout, thrown in dirt, WHY NOT RUN?... Ace, draw to JH for nothing. DT blew it up....Gun Empty on 3rd & 10, Parker throws it away. Catanzaro 48yd FG, 7-3 UNC. 6 plays 19 yards, 02:14

Should've run the ball on the first play to establish it, but the PA rollout later should've definitely been changed to a run play. JH shouldn't be running a draw.

But good field position is mostly squandered. Parker has all day to throw.

3 of these plays should throw, 2 where we definitely had to throw (3rd & 15, 3rd & 10). 1 pass where Parker scrambled. I see two that should've been changed to rushes. 5 passes called, 1 rush but one other nullified by penalty, and 1 roll out pass that went as a rush.

UNC at their 21 - 3 & out. 3 incompletions. DL getting excellent pressure. Maye had good coverage on Pianalto on 3rd down. Mostly Nickel by CU.

CU starts at our 42 - JH Iso for 3...Gun zone JH for 4...Ace Trips, PA Roll and Parker goes out of bounds. Nice discipline by UNC End there. 3 plays 7 yards.

Andre Ellington should've been in here. I'm getting sick of this little PA rollout we keep running with Parker that never gets more than a handful of yards. No one on the 2nd or 3rd level ever appears to get open.

2 runs, 1 PA pass called and KP scrambled out.

UNC starts from their 20 - Christian eats the blocker on a Power to make play...Sensabaugh called on PI, hand on his back, but played the ball well....Bowers misses a sack, Yates threw into triple coverage to Boyd, Hall tipped it away....Wheel route to White for 51.  Hall's man, coverage bust. Hall opened to the middle and took his eyes off the RB. I mistakenly had thought this was Maye's man, but Hall is playing a 30 technique in the box. Cover 1 with DMac deep.....Hawkins would've picked Yates had he taken a drop on the throw to Jones....4th & 1, 9 men in the box and they got it. Interior got no push....Branch did well to hold contain on the rollout incompletion....Boyd on a slant for the TD, Maxwell just got beat. 14-3 UNC, 10 plays 80 yards, 03:29

Again, not play by play.

We have got to get better at covering these slants by the slot WR. One busted coverage really made the whole drive.

We're still playing alot of base here with Christian in there.

CU starts at the 20 with 0:54 left - RUN THE CLOCK OFF. PLEASE LEARN FROM LAST WEEK. Too hard for them to do apparently.

Gun, AE draw for 5....Gun, Allen quick out for 10....Gun Trips R, End forces Parker to throw it away...Gun, Parker finds Allen behind blitzer for 9....0:07 left, kinda have to throw one up. Gun Trips R, Parker throws one incomplete out of bounds....Gun, tipped away at the UNC 7yd line. 6 plays 23 yds.

Well if youre going to go for the score, you have to throw there, so only the decision to not kneel on it should be questioned. 1 Run, 5 passes.


24 passes, 14 runs in the 1st half. Take away the last drive and its 13 runs, 19 passes, which is still too many throws. That should be reversed. 3 or 4 should definitely go the other way, and The Skirt shouldn't be getting as many carries as he has.

Defense is playing mostly base 4-3 Under, not Nickel. Its mostly zone coverage, with some Cover 1. Not too much blitzing from us. Other than the big play, and the first UNC drive, I'm fairly pleased with their performance.

Again, if I were making the calls, I'd blitz a little bit more.

UNC isnt doing anything up front with their DLine, and are not getting much pressure. We're not taking advantage of that. We're also not taking advantage of Sturdivant being on the sidelines whatsoever....I'd run right at his replacement.

UNC is playing pretty damn good coverage on most plays, but Parker doesnt see the open receivers on the backside. UNC does not respect our WRs one-on-one, as they are not gearing the coverage to any particular man, just playing 1/4-1/4-1/2 with quarters on the field side. Deunta Williams is jumping in and out of the box and we still don't challenge it.

3rd QTR

UNC starts at their 29 - 3 & out. Nice TFL by Jenkins, but Bowers really made it happen. We showed some OVER front as well.

CU starts at our 26 - Gun, Bubble to Nuke for 2-3. WHY THROW THERE? .... Gun, hitch to Allen for 7, and I think Ron Cherry gave us that 1st down as a gift. I can't believe it....Ace, PA, slightly underthrown pass to McNeal batted away, great coverage. Parker missed a man underneath wide open. Parker was told to take the deep shot I bet, but ball should not have been thrown. McNeal was blanketed...Gun, coverage good and Parker scrambles for a few...Gun, Nuke on a comeback route, nice catch. Dye wouldn't have made that....Ace, Power R and Harper TFL. Freeman and Cloy with some very weak blocking on the backside of the Power.....Gun Empty, 2nd & 12, hits Allen over the middle for about 10....3rd & 2, Gun Empty WHY?, Nuke drops a slant. Gotta catch that ball, hit him in the numbers. 8 plays 29 yards

God what awful playcalling. That was our halftime adjustment? 1 called rush, 7 passes called against that front 7?

UNC starts at their 13 - White got 10, but Maye was not where he should've been. After that the D forces a 3 & out. Bowers gets another sack, just bullrushed the LT.

Nuke returns the punt 31 yards to the UNC 20 -  Motion to Ace, Harper toss and thrown incomplete. WHAT THE FUCK NAPIER?....Gun, PA, Screen goes incomplete. Defensive holding called....1st & 10 at the 11, I-form, JH Iso for 1 yard. Again the backside blocking wasn't so great....Gun, Draw TD Jamie Harper. 14-10 UNC. 3 plays 21 yards

I don't understand what we're doing whatsoever. That stupid HB Toss Pass was unnecessary, we could just put in AE and run the ball 5 times from the 20 and get in.

Horrible KO coverage gets them the ball at their 46 - 3 & out. Chavis just destroyed his blocker once for TFL. Gilchrist made a great play on 3rd down to knock a ball away.

Our Defense gave up a Net of ZERO yards in the 3rd quarter. 10 plays 15 yards but net allowed was zero due to penalties on UNC.

CU starts at our 35 - FINALLY ANDRE ELLINGTON GETS THE BALL. Strong I, Iso AE for 9....Strong I, AE Zone for about 3...Gun, AE sweep for 14. Good seal by Hairston....I-form, Iso JH for 2. 8 men in the box...Gun, JH zone for 1, tiptoeing....3rd & 7, Gun Empty, Nice dig route and catch by Nuke Hopkins for 13.....Strong I, AE Screen snuffed out by DE for loss of 1.....Ace, AE zone for 1, Freeman botched block. End of 3rd Qtr. 3rd & 11, Gun, Parker overthrows McNeal by a mile and a half. Bad throw. Catanzaro missed 42 yd FG. 9 plays 41 yards, 04:33

Don't have a problem with these playcalls. UNC's Defensive Ends play pretty disciplined football on edge containment. They have been there waiting for those screens we like to run to the RB and the PA rollout we love to run.

UNC starts from their 24 - Killed ourselves. 3rd & 9 at NC 25, after two good plays, Brewer has his hand on WR's back. Gilchrist's INT nullified. Terrible throw by Yates....3rd & 7 from NC 43, Holding called on Maxwell....4th & 3 inches at the CU 39, Sneak gets it....4th & 9 at the CU 35, Bowers jump offsides, getting a sack, but penalty makes it 4th & 4 at our 30. DMac beat by Johnny White on angle route for 12, and misses the tackle too...2nd & 18 from the CU 26. Draw play right up the A-gap. Hawkins charged and got blocked, couldnt get off it. Branch got penetration but got chipped late by the TE, and Maye as usual charged and couldnt get off his blocker. 21-10 UNC. 14 plays 76 yards, 07:57

Need to do some more OL-LB Shed Drills, same story as always on that. The drive was really all on us except for the TD play. We had exceptional coverage deep and short and played well up front.

I'd like to know what idiot called this stupidass reverse on the KO Return with Harper.

CU starts on our 14 with 6:40 - Don't have to come out throwing like mad, but definitely need to score and score quickly on this drive. - Gun, Quick In to Brown is dropped. Gotta catch that ball.....Gun, Nuke fights for the 1st down on a crosser....Gun, Parker's throw too hot for Nuke to catch, but still should've been caught. Would've been another 1st down....Gun, Screen to Brown is blown up in backfield. This happened because the ball was thrown before McClain got there to block Searcy, who made the TFL. McClain was too SLOW there, its not on Parker....3rd & 9, Gun, Jaron Brown 76 yards. Williams took a bad angle on that ball.....2pt conversion, can't get the DAMN PLAY OFF. CHRIST. Delay of Game. Retry the 2, Gun, pressure forces Parker to throw incomplete. Face mask on defense, try it again. Gun Empty, Parker throws into coverage incomplete. There was contact on Marquan Jones there that went uncalled. Parker could've also hit Brown just inside the Goalline, if he threw a bullet. 21-16 UNC. 5 plays 86 yards, 01:22

Did not have to go all-pass there, and don't know why we didn't. UNC was in all-Nickel. Still, we got the 6 we needed.

UNC Starts at their 23 - Depressing job by our Defense. Maye attempts sissy tackle, White gets 7....Branch not covering the C-gap, White gets 13. SS got blocked too....Bowers HELD and Christian caught flatfooted watching the play, White gets 10...We stop two more Power plays to force 3rd & 9 with 2:33 left....Shuey matched up on White out of the backfield, WHY? He is TOO SLOW. Goes for 12 yards. Had 9 in the box. Bowers just a second late on a sack....after that, and 2 penalties, we stuffed White fairly well, but clock just ran out.

Clemson got the ball back at our 19 with 0:13 left - 3 incompletions. Off Brown's fingers in triple coverage....another in the dirt in front of Dye....last one batted away.

Summarizing Thoughts

Most of this one has to go on Napier and Dabo. After watching it again and again, thats the only conclusion I can see.

  • 39 pass attempts. 21/38 by Kyle Parker for 214 yards. That is too many attempts, even when factoring in the drives at the end of the 1st half and 2nd half where we went into passing mode.
  • There were some drops too, but I can forgive Nuke for a drop when he makes 2 or 3 really good plays. We must catch better though. 
  • Nuke Hopkins is a player. If our coaches needed 4 weeks to figure that out, I don't know what to say. I realize he must learn the verbage, and learn some reads, but if you have a freshman that can ball, you just tell him "Go run a slant on this one" or "go run a 15yd Dig" until he learns enough to function. Hopkins could be the best Clemson WR since Rod Gardner, he gets open and he just has football sense.
  • I expected more performance out of McNeal, I wonder why we just don't have him run some more bubbles or tunnel screens. Marquan is still the most invisible man on the field.
  • I don't need to say any more about Ellington being the better back.

3rd QTR playcalling was simply WTF. I'm disgusted, moreso than even the early 1st half calls. I saw zero halftime adjustment by Clemson. None whatsoever, and I'm looking for them hard. I see no one attacking Sturdivant's backup. I see no attacking of Quinn and Austin's backups.

Look how many times we were in Shotgun sets. Who called these plays? We didn't play to OUR strengths at all today.

Then how about the 24-14 pass-to-run ratio in the first half?

Powell: "A lot of that is based on self-scout. We have some tendencies in some areas we're trying to break. And I thought we threw the ball pretty well when you take into account we had maybe five or six drops and a couple of balls we threw away. We didn't have any sacks. So you try to be more balanced. Obviously it's no big secret that our tight ends and running backs have been the bulk of the offense. And we feel like in order to go forward we need to spread the ball around a little more, so we've made a conscious effort to do that."

If I give you 4 returning line starters, and 2 more Guards worthy of starting (Smith, Cloy) and a RB who has over 6 ypc since he's been at Clemson, what do you do with him? Whoever is doing the self scouting should be fired for being a complete idiot. Any self scout job worth a damn would tell you that Andre Ellington should get the ball and Harper should not.

Just listen to what else Powell said in his interview this week. EVERYONE LISTEN TO THIS.

Powell Post UNC Interview


We had only a few bad plays, but again they killed us. Look at the number of 3 & outs again. Similarly to the NCSU game last year, the defense shot themselves with penalties for aggressive play, and here it gave the other team enough chances to run the clock out at the end.

First TD by UNC we got out-physicalled, gotta give that one to them. The 51 yard wheel route was on Rashard Hall in coverage, and that set up another score that I don't think they'd have gotten otherwise. Last TD was on the LBs.

But this was probably the best day all-around for our LB corps. The underneath coverage was fairly good. The play by Quandon Christian was also surprisingly good, in coverage in particular, which was what worried me the most about the SAM position. The one big bust when he was matched on Boyd was his fault, but otherwise he was good, and in that particular play I think we should've been in Nickel. I think we've found a potentially good SAM LB. He will need to bulk up however.

Johnny White was often the last checkdown on the play in the passing game, and we missed a couple key tackles on him. Take away the last 26 yd TD and he has 21 carries for 63 yards, 3.0 yards per attempt. Several times Maye or DMac were late getting to him coming out on his route.

Downfield coverage was also pretty good. Gilchrist knocked away at least 3 balls. We were very aggressive matching on their WRs, that is why White was hit so often.

For those of you who think Clemson should stay in 4-3 with a slot WR on, you got your wish today. I could probably count on two hands how many times we actually used a 5-DB set. We stayed in UNDER front almost all day, and dropped a Safety very often when the opponent switched strength. We were in Cover 2 and Cover 1 predominantly.

Da'Quan Bowers is on his way to a 1st round pick. The rest of the Line again played pretty solid. They were in their gaps.

Tackling, overall, was sound. Its the couple that we flat-out missed that killed us, as usual.

Special teams was pretty weak in returns. Bad blocking all around. The one that Nuke brought back was a short kick and no hangtime, and he just beat two guys himself.


Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.