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Georgia Tech Game Film Review

In this film review I'm going to pull out various option play footage so folks can see the Counter, Belly, Midline, etc. but I did not have time to talk as much about the scheme as I would've liked due to some computer issues. I will give the basics of the scheme and fronts we played and when its apparent I've cut footage out to show it to you, but unfortunately due to time constraints and in preparing the Preview for BC, I can't diagram everything up like I wanted to. That will have to wait til the offseason I think.

In the interest of examining the playcalling in the 2nd and 3rd quarters I will make notes of the run/pass sets. I will not go too far into detail about motions and shifting on offense or all the tweaks to formations we run, but will note shotgun vs. power sets. Also, I am making note of the defensive alignment when we go 3-4.

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. If theres anything that you would like to see or have explained, just ask. 

The animated drivechart is at the end.

Clemson starts at the 24 - Gun, little flare to Diehl negated by penalty.....Ace, flanker screen to Jaron for 9, well blocked by Allen, Nuke missed his....Gun, Ellington in the flat. GT dropped 8 into coverage and everyone was covered....Gun, 6 come on blitz on 3rd & 4, low weak throw is nearly picked off. Gotta put something on that throw Kyle. Can't throw lobs to the flats. Punt. Roughing penalty and we get it at the 45....Ace, inside zone for 55 yards.4 plays 76 yards, 01:53

What really sets this up is the fact that Freeman can handle the NG by himself, freeing up the Guards to proceed directly to the 2nd level. Watch in the blocking, Smith goes straight to the LB and stands him up.

Tech at the 25 - Clemson shows a 3-4 Stacked front, toss to Jones goes out of bounds incomplete, counted as a pass....Again and the outside player blitzes, zone coverage, Nesbitt throws to nowhere....4-3 front, Branch tips a pass on a waggle.

Both Ends playing a 5-technique, 3-tech to field and a 2i to boundary, an EVEN front. LB alignment is the same as the ACCCG though they appear to be about a 1-2 yards closer to the line of scrimmage for much of the game. Ends are in a 2-point stance.


Why did Johnson open up with 2 pass attempts?

Clemson at the Tech 45 - I, Jamie Harper Iso for 4....Gun, JH late Draw play goes outside for 3....I, PA finds Jaron Brown  on a curl route, he fights for 17....Ace, AE Zone, TFL because Dalton Freeman missed #51 completely on a run blitz....2nd & 14, Gun, Zone read keep by Kyle Parker for 4, correct read....3rd & 10, Gun 2B, they send 5 and he has time to make a throw but he doesn't see receiver coming across (Mesh Combination) free and throws it away. Catanzaro 29yd FG, MISSED. 8 plays 33 yards, 03:25

Had Freeman not missed that block we'd probably be up 14-0. Our WRs can execute that Mesh combo much better, too slow in developing, they collided (like setting a pick for each other) with DBs and they didn't need to.

Tech from their 20 - 3-4, End around, Melton throws incomplete to Josh Nesbitt covered by Andre Branch, PI called. Melton throws a better ball than Nesbitt....PItch Option, MLB gets blocked, End goes with Dive, SAM takes QB, pitch undefended goes for 29....Dive for nothing....Nesbitt falls down in backfield...3rd & 10, 4-3, Nesbitt throws one that bounces off Hill's facemask. Xavier Brewer turned his hips around again and lost leverage outside. Punt.

The 3-4 stacked front we show, which isn't really a "stack" but I'll use that anyway. A Nose and two 4-techniques. DTs are playing the 4 usually. It looks one-gapped.


Clemson from our 20 - Ace Jumbo, AE Zone right up the gut for 7.....Ace, PA, a weak block by Andre Ellington lets a blitzer force an early throw away....3rd & 3, Gun, Fade route and Nuke makes it 1-handed for 23. Outstanding catch. Defender had good position on him; just a great play....Gun, FL screen, awful blocking by Nuke and Jaron, and Bryce McNeal only gets 2...Gun, quick out to Diehl for 5...Gun 2B, AE Draw for 5....Gun, intended pump fake to FL screen, Parker hits Brown for 13 over outside shoulder. Had Parker led him inside its another 5 yards....Gun, inside blitz and a good block by Jamie Harper, throw to Dwayne Allen is caught out of bounds....Ace, Power O wide to the C-gap, JH for 5...Gun, Backside blitzer forces early throw incomplete. Andre went the wrong way and didn't read the blitz properly. Catanzaro 38 yd FG. 10-0 Clemson. 11 plays 60 yards.

Don't see why so much shotgun. GT is garbage up front. NG completely manhandled by Freeman, LBs don't know where to go or what to do.

Tech from their 17 - Allen on the Dive for 24. EVEN Front, Corico Hawkins runs himself out of the play. Miguel Chavis missed him and the End as well....Branch tips a pitch, loss of 9 yards...Peeples strung out on the Boundary by Willard for gain of 3....3rd & 16, pressure from Chavis forces another ugly throw incomplete. Chavis ate that Guard up right through the B-gap. 4 plays 18 yards. Punt.

Clemson from our 26 - Ace, AE Zone right up the A gap for 9....I, Power O right, AE stopped for 1. They ran a little NG-End stunt outside and the Boundary End charged up the B-gap to Smith to stop it. Got 1st down though....Ace, AE Zone up the A-gap for 4.....End 1st QTR....Ace, hitch to Nuke for about 9....I, End around to Brown for 8. Nice job by Diehl to set the edge. GT overpursued it badly....Ace, AE 42 yard zone for the TD. GT's front went totally the other way. Look at the presnap motion up the middle. 17-0 Clemson, 6 plays 74 yards, 2:35.

Now you see why I say their front is garbage. That's not gap sound defense.

Tech from their 12 - Dive for 5....Christian waiting for the Keeper....3rd & 3, Goodman doesnt bite on the Dive fake and catches Nesbitt in the backfield. GT did not execute that play well, the relationship between Nesbitt and the pitch man wasn't great at all. They would not have made the 1st in my opinion though, with Christian there waiting. Punt Fake for 22 yards, everyone on D went right up the middle.

Dive for 9, right by Hawkins. Not covering the gap....Again for about 6...Toss to the Flanker for 4....3-4, Jenkins and Hawkins eat the Dive. Jenkins playing the 4. We are one-gapping the 3-4 front. 3rd & 5, a good outside block by Roddy Jones and Sensabaugh/Christian can't stop the toss sweep play....Nesbitt drops back about 500 yards and Branch key blitzes into it, forces Nesbitt outside for no gain....Dive for 5...3-4, Brewer reads it and jumped into the backfield for a loss. Badly executed pitch by Nesbitt, too wide....Waggle pass on 4th down knocked away by DMac. Should've been picked. Turnover on Downs. 13 plays 53 yards.

Only really disturbing thing here is that we're not stopping the Dive well. In the 3-4 we still send all the down linemen to Dive, along with a LB (responsibility is Dive-to-QB). Same thing we're doing with the 4-3 front.

And they are running away from Bowers when he's in.

Clemson from the 35 - Gun, half roll, hits Allen out of bounds on a little stop....Gun, short hitch to Brandon Ford for 5...3rd & 5, Gun, blitz, hits Nuke on what appears to be a stop, but could've been underthrown.... Ace, Walker flat out missed the OLB blitzing (twist) and Parker tosses it up to Harper who runs up the middle for 3. Just a good play by Kyle and Jamie there, the DE + OLB executed a twist (one inside, other goes outside) and it confused Landon...I, Iso JH for 1. McClain didn't generate any movement on the 5....3rd & 6, ball thrown behind Brown incomplete. Parker needed to throw that ball to the outside shoulder, but had a LB coming in his face. Punt. 8 plays 21 yards.

This is where I take issue with the playcalling. You just gashed them for a 42 yarder and they havent done anything to take away the run. Theyre still in 3-4, playing man/man on blitzes. 3rd & 5, 3rd & 6, the percentage dictates pass, which is fine. However the with the initial 1st down coming out in Gun for the first two plays?

Tech from their 20 - Dive for 2...False start...Speed Toss sweep to Jones, another good outside arc block and Hawkins (who shaded Boundary) knocks him out of bounds for 17...Dive for 3, Hawkins needs to WRAP UP....End around to Hill, and we overpursued it. 14 yard gain....Smith wide open down the sideline for 18. Safety didnt get there in time. This is open for Tech almost all day, Nesbitt just can't hit it....Pitch gets 9....Bowers destroys a blocker and hurries a throw incomplete....3rd & 1, Nesbitt keeps for one...3-4, Another toss sweep, but Gilchrist comes up to stop it.....3-4, missed tackle lets Nesbitt get positive yardage on a Counter, but Moore catches him from behind....3rd & 3, hits Hill and Brewer misses tackle, but Bowers got over there to tackle....Nesbitt tries to take a designed Draw play and is tripped by Bowers and tackled....3-4, ball tipped by Goodman, and should've been intercepted by Meeks....3-4, overthrown incomplete. FG, 17-3 Clemson. 15 plays 71 yards, 04:27

GT had success by hurrying to the LOS and snapping the ball, same as other opponents have had against us this year. Unconventional playcalling by Johnson on this drive.

Where we showed a 3-4, I've noted. We're playing split zone with a little Cover 1 there.

Clemson from the 34 - I, PA pass to Brown on a Go route, thrown into double coverage incomplete, then kneel on it.


Clemson completely shut down their run game in the 1st quarter, but I think some of it can be attributed to Johnson's playcalling. The Dive is having success, but they don't run it enough. He wants to run the Veer option and that is having ZERO success because of the End play. What goes unmentioned is the great DT play, they blow back their blocks and force combo blocks, and that keeps guys off the Linebackers.

Tech is not blocking well though. Too slow.

Ends are playing Dive-to-QB, MLB(s) on Dive-to-QB, DTs on Dive, OLB on QB-to-Pitch, with secondary support in zone coverage (hard cover 2, on boundary).

This speed toss sweep is getting good yards but we are just overpursuing the play. The backside end was a bit late once and trailed his blocker another time (which is his assignment, just not that shallow) and took himself out of it. They arc blocked really well for these too.

But our zone is giving them plays to hit, guys are getting open, but Nesbitt doesn't have great time to throw and when he does he throws a dead duck, kinda like an old Rodney Williams wobbler.

The 3-4 we run appears, in every instance thus far, to be one-gapped. The linemen are all crashing to a particular gap, not reading the blocks. Branch and Bowers are taking turns outside as LBs in the 3-4, with Christian. Willard has played sparingly instead of Branch.

The 4-3 is mostly EVEN, and I think much of the time we play the 3-tech to the Field side. Difficult to tell how we set the front at midfield without more endzone footage. Only two big plays in the 1st quarter but the 2nd quarter is a bit unsettling.

Offensively we're not doing anything out-of-the-ordinary, just demolishing them up front. Tech is sticking in their 3-4, playing Cover 1 behind the 3rd down blitzes, and a little Nickel thrown in for pass sets.

Clemson - 100 passing yards, 11/19. 153 rushing.

Tech - 26 yards passing, 146 rushing.

3rd QTR

Tech from their 25 - Dive for 2....3-4, Tossed to Smith to Field for 13....3-4, Goodman runs down speed pitch to Field...Dive for 2...Goodman gets blocked, Branch a step late and Nesbitt gets 5. Johnson adjusted his blocking scheme, he's no longer veering the OT....Dive, missed tackle by Rennie Moore, and Allen goes for 19....3-4, Counter option pitch to Field, nobody is over there and he gets 14. Glad K.Brown flattened Nesbitt anyway....Midline Keep for 5....Toss to Field is strung out, no gain....3rd & 4, 3-4, Hawkins ate Nesbitt up. Scraped around after the Dive was stopped and nailed Nesbitt. 26 yd FG again, 17-6 Clemson, 11 plays 66 yards, 5:10.

Looks like Johnson is trying to negate the DEs that are eating him up. Speed options to the edge without veering the tackles, then optioning off the OLB. Goodman wisely pushed his blocker outside to spill the play out.

Clemson from the 31 - I, AE Iso for 4....Gun, WHY? Parker sidearms a throw to Brown incomplete...Gun, Curl to Allen for a 1st down....Gun Empty, WHY?. Stop route to Hopkins.....I, PA thrown to Harper in the flats, he goes for 35...I, PA roll thrown to Diehl for 3....Ace, AE Zone for 1. One more step and its 6 points...3rd & 6, Gun, Andre scores from the flat on a swing play. 24-6 Clemson. 8 plays 69 yards, 03:34

Again the playcalling. Tech just drove down the field on the defense and we should try to control the ball and pound them to give the D a rest. We had tremendous success running in the 1st half, but go right to shotgun early and an Empty set on 1st & 10 following that.  

I do wish we would take a shot down field to keep them honest, but they are giving us the hitches all day. Bad underneath coverage. Tech doesnt appear to be doing anything differently, other than a bit more Nickel since we're in the Gun. Zone coverage.

Tech from their 22 - Incomplete, bad throw....Brown plays the Counter option perfect and hammers Nesbitt...PA pass to Allen on a wheel route, right through Willard's hands. Great catch....Veer keep stopped....Bowers stops that Speed Toss by coming unblocked off the edge....3rd & 10, wheel route to Smith, nobody there in coverage (Hawkins' man) for 1st....3-4, another bad throw to flat....Dive for 6...3rd & 4, Dive for 2...4th & 1.5, 3-4, Speed Toss away from Bowers with 9 in the box gets 10....Dive for 1....Dive for 1. Jenkins continues to rape the OL across from him....Dive for 2...Underneath pass to Allen out of backfield, Hawkins got shielded by the Wingback (breaking inside) and was late in coverage. 24-13 Clemson, 14 plays 78 yards, 06:00

Another long drive given up, 3rd in a row. We're not playing badly here though. The catch by Allen was a great throw and catch, and then Hawkins got beat twice respecting the Dive and being late or shielded and they throw to the Field side so he has more ground to cover. They still run away from Bowers as much as possible, and Steele is moving him inside and outside at LB, bringing up the safety to present an 8-man front.

The speed toss they had success with:

Start 4th QTR

Clemson from the 16 - Ace, JH Zone and he tiptoes for short gain on 1st & 15...Ace, Flanker screen to McNeal for 3....3rd & 10, Gun, Parker has all day, scrambles and Harper drops one at the marker. Great play by the Corner to tip it out. Punt.

Couldn't run the ball much there after Freeman had a false start on the first play. Didn't throw deep because we were far in our territory.

Tech from their 44 - Sack by Bowers, 10th. Went through two blockers...Bowers got cut on the next Veer play and a late pitch to Jones gets 13, then a personal foul gives them 15. Dumb....Dive for 3....3-4, Nesbitt throws one to Australia that Brewer should've picked off. WR stopped running his route....3rd & 7, Outside Veer, Bowers gets through the cut block and tackles for loss. 49 yd FG MISSED. 6 plays 24 yards.

Now instead of speed options its outside veer option with the Wingback cut blocking Bowers.

Clemson from the 32 - Time to end this game. Zone for 3. Zone for 6. Sneak for 1. Zone for 5. Zone for 5. I-form, Power O for 5. All Ellington, all inside. JH, Iso for 10. Tech played Bear and once Diehl smacked that LB the hole field was open. Ace, JH Zone for 12. Power O gets a holding call on the TD, Ashe didnt need to. At the snap, Ashe was in motion, so the dope got 2 penalties on the same damn play. I, Power O, AE for 2. Didn't follow his blockers, Smith and Diehl had the hole open wide to C-gap. AE Zone for 2. 3rd & 12, Ace, Power up the middle for 13. 1st & Goal. Zone for 2. Zone for no gain, should've fallen forward. End around to Brown for 4. Catanzaro 21 yd FG. 27-13 Clemson. 15 plays 64 yards, 07:36

Beautiful drive.

Tech from the 35 - Intercepted by DMac, then got a 15 yd penalty for celebration.

CU from the 8 - I, JH Iso for 4. Ace, JH Zone for 5. I, JH Iso and trips over his feet for 1. Then Parker kneels on it.

Postgame Coordinator Interviews


Georgia Tech
1st Downs 20 21
3rd down efficiency
6-16 9-15
4th down efficiency
3-4 0-0
Total Yards 325 403
Passing 83 167
6-19 17-27
Yards per pass
4.2 6.2
Rushing 242 236
Rushing Attempts
49 38
Yards per rush
4.9 6.2
Penalties 5-55 7-62
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles lost
0 0
Interceptions thrown
1 0
Possession 28:56 31:04

Summarizing Thoughts

Just an outstanding performance on the edge by the defense. Only the speed toss play had consistent success against us, and usually that was run away from Bowers and/or to the Field side so that the LB would have more turf to cover.

Tech had their success on the Dive against EVEN Fronts, usually the 3-tech would be pushed wide enough by the Guard that the back would be past him before he could make it, and then the 2i would be sealed off well enough. In that case the LB has to be there, and Hawkins simply ran himself out of it trying to circumvent the Center and Guard. At least he attempted to avoid the block, as Maye would've let them stand him up and been sealed off completely. I would've thought they'd run it more than they did, as well as the Midline. I assume the fact that both ILBs were playing 20s close to the line kept it from being called against 3-4 fronts, but we played a 3-tech in a 40 front pretty often and they didn't take the Midline.

And by the way, I doubt we play this well on the edge if Maye is in there. Strong/Weak makes little difference against the spread formation Tech shows, but Branch did the job at the OLB spot well. He wasn't asked to play much coverage thankfully, and his size and the fact that he's used to handling cut blocks really came in handy out there today. However, he is not a permanent WLB as some have suggested. You don't want him in coverage every play.

As for scheme, it remained as stated above. The scheme we employed is what we used "first" in the ACCCG. Thankfully we didnt try the crazy shit this time that I lamented before. The 4-3 we played here is the same alignment with the exception that we are bringing the MIKE up about a yard on most downs, i.e., he isn't playing as far away as Maye was last year. The only new thing Steele put in is the 3-4 alignment.

Ends are playing Dive-to-QB, MLB(s) on Dive-to-QB, DTs on Dive, OLB on QB-to-Pitch, with secondary support in zone coverage (hard cover 2, on boundary). Some Cover 1 is thrown in.

Alignment is 4-3, Ends in 2 point stance at 5-technique. DTs are playing 1 & 3 or 2i & 3 for the most part. OLB is wider than the Wing usually, in a 90, but right off the End's heel. MLB is 00-10 alignment at no more than 6 yards off LOS.

The other alignment is 3-4, LBs go 90-30-30-90 for the most part, a NG and two 4-techs, played by our normal Tackles. Assignment is the same, 3 DL on the dive first with the MLBs, particularly the backside ILB who immediately takes the Dive when flow begins away. Playside ILB is Dive-to-QB.

Players did not have a single assignment because GT didn't block or set things up well when they did block. Tackles ate up the Guards most of the time. Ends take the Dive first, and if they use their eyes (which they didn't from this same 4-3 alignment last year) they will see he doesnt have the ball and then go to Nesbitt. Once the Ends are free, you can outnumber them with the safety coming up to help the LB on the pitch, because Tech also didn't make many cracks with the WRs today either. They miss Bebe Thomas badly there.

So why did this scheme work this time and not last year?  Our Ends played exceptionally well and everyone got off blocks 10x better than we did last season. We stopped them on 1st down, which led to 3rd & longer situations. Some of that is because Johnson decided to throw.

Did you find in your review of the Georgia Tech film a lot fewer broken assignments? 

Kevin Steele: "To be honest with you, about 60-percent of it was what they had already seen.  It was kind of amazing when you think of playing one defensive package one time a year and you have just six mental errors.  That was impressive.  Impressive.  Truth be known, they still had 245 yards rushing.  That's not off the chart.  That's still a lot.  You base it more on average yards a carry.  You'd be shocked that average yards per carry was similar to last year's game.  The difference was they scored one TD in the first game and 2 of 12 on third down.  They were 6 of 16 on third down in this game.  It came down to third down."

Offensively, the only complaint I have is with the playcalling in the 2nd quarter and 3rd. We get a case of the dropsies in the 3rd and it would've just let Tech stay in the game, which you don't need to risk. The drive to start the 4th was put in bad position with the penalty. We're too quick to go Empty set there in the 3rd. Other than that, the only thing I'd liked to have seen is us not to take every hitch route and let the routes downfield develop to hit a deeper play. It seems that even our intermediate routes never get open or Parker doesnt let them develop.

But they seem to have taken what the defense gives, and Tech's front is shit. Tech didn't do much to stop the run for those interested, they stayed in Nickel or 3-4 sets all day, with an occasional run blitz and on 3rd down passes they blitzed 5-6 with Cover 1 behind it. I don't think Groh lets them do anything else. He knows they suck.

Parker must lead his receivers better on downfield routes, some plays today could've been much bigger if he'd have hit the receiver in stride.



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