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Boston College Game Film Review

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. Our goal here is to look for good plays and bad technique. I may pull a few plays out to discuss the Clemson offense/defense, and if theres anything that you would like to see or have explained, just ask. 

Note on my shorthand: IZ/OZ= Inside/Outside Zone; IV=Inverted Veer; Power= Power O; Counters we run are mostly Counter-H's. ZR=Zone read, though a ZR handoff is nothing but IZ.

ESPN Play-By-Play

BC from 34 -  IZ for 2...Draw for 5...Power O and Willard jumped right into the gap to stop it. Punt.

CU from 20 - Zone sweep off RT for loss of 2....Boyd overthrows Watkins on a seam route...Nuk makes a great catch on a Corner route for 25...Counter H for 7...Jaron Brown makes a great catch on another Post to the 18...Throwback TE screen to Allen down to the 3...Pistol, zone for 1...Jaron makes the catch on a quick slant behind the LB Kuechly, who was keying Andre Ellington just enough. TD Clemson, 7-0.  8 plays 80 yards, 02:20

Whole drive is a highlight reel. BC looks to be playing some Quarters, so they watched the VT film, along with C3.

BC from 45 - Penetration from Willard stops an IZ...Ball thrown too hard to be caught on a drag route. Coverage was OK...Pressure forces a throw away.

Clemson showing mostly 2 Shell and rolling out of it into Robber. Still showing Nickel when they go 3 wide, which surprises me. I figured we'd try to stick with the Stack front and walk a LB out against these guys.

CU from 16 - IV keep for 7..I formation, backside toss for 14...ZR play, Tajh keeps and throws the bubble for 5...Boyd fumbles the ball on mesh to Howard (IZ), he picks it up and gets to LOS...Allen on an Out for the 1st down...IW, IZ up the middle for 3. Price playing pattycake with Kuechly instead of hitting him...HB Pass, thrown a bit too far ahead....Swing route to AE for 6...I form, Howard on a backside toss, he turns out and get the 1st down. He went outside and almost didnt get the 1st down. Get straight upfield DJ...Peake drops a TD. Perfect pass...Sammy gets hit as the ball arrives, incomplete. Good play by the Safety there...Boyd scrambles for 5 as BC sends a zone blitz. FG, 10-0 Clemson 12 plays 63 yds 4:20.

BC was rolling from a 2 High shell to Cover 3 on several of these plays. KP would've been confused, Boyd doesnt seem to be.

OL doing a good job picking up their zone blitzing.

BC from 23 - Sack by Malliciah Goodman, forced fumble, recovered by Shatley.

CU from BC 16 - Power O for 2. No movement at all inside...Empty, QB Draw, and Tajh takes it in. Great blocking, Freeman got downfield well. Notice Sammy and the other receivers getting downfield and making blocks too. 17-0 Clemson. 2 plays, 16 yds, 0:44

BC from 25 - Bootleg, ball thrown too wide due to pressure...Draw,  nice tackle by Tony Steward for 2...Swygert makes the catch on an Out cut, Brewer just too far from him after the cut...Sweep cut back and theres a huge hole where Shatley should be. Willard scraped outside and the backside LB Hawkins got cut blocked. This is Hawkins' man on a cutback. Gain of 9...BT and Shuey stop the IZ for no gain. Nice job by Shuey, stuck right on his key...Power barely gets the 1st down...WR reverse pass, holding called...Screen and Goodman played it perfectly, got out there and picked the back up immediately. End 1st QTR...Drag route and the LB Willard picks up his man but too late to stop the throw. 17 yd gain...Rashard Hall out of position and Brewer beaten on a Post route by Swygert for a TD, but BC flagged for hands to face of Kourtnei Brown. Xavier Brewer adjusted to him late and was going outside as the ball was snapped, and could not recover to get any kind of position on Swygert. However, this is Hall's man all the way when it goes deep and he's too wide to do anything to stop it....BC TO...Draw for 9. Punt. 9 plays 25 yards.

Brewer seems to be trying to disguise his coverage and he's running at the snap, and gets himself out of position. Same kind of things happened last year.

CU from 2 - Now screen to Watkins for 17. Risky playcall...Counter for 4..Allen makes a great catch on a high throw for 21. Seam route...Jet sweep for 4...IW, QB speed option keep for 9...TO CU...Reverse, BC all over it. BC too disciplined on D for that call...Boyd overthrows Watkins by a mile, but good coverage...RB Screen, AE drops it, probably would've been a 1st down. Punt. 8 plays 42 yards, 03:00

Why do I feel like that reverse was a Dabo call?

BC from 16 - OZ, he goes right past Goodman and Moore for 7...Power and both Hawkins and Willard jump the gap on a key blitz. Loss of 2...Rettig tackled by Moore, coverage sack. Punt.

CU from 46 - Bucksweep for 7...ZR fake to a bootleg and finds Sammy sittin in the corner for 19, came back for the ball...Tajh forces a ball to Brandon Ford down the sideline. Was hoping to fake them on a bubble to the opposite side. Should not have thrown this pass, almost picked and it probably would've been a huge return...ZR handoff for 3, AE fell...Boyd tries to hit Cooper on the boundary on an Out, BC OLB makes a good play. 42 yd FG, 20-0 Clemson. 6 plays 29 yds.

One forced ball.

BC from 20 - OZ, no DE setting the edge, gets 6...Bad pass on a swing route, inc...Swygert makes a good catch and pays for it on a slant. Gain of 9...Nickel Blitz and he's cut as DE goes inside. Christian is there but does not make the play, gain of 6...False start...Swygert on a quick out cut for 14. Brewer inside too far...Power for 6. Bad gap control...Blitz, Swygert for 10 on a crosser, Meeks just a step behind it...Nickel blitz again, same thing happens again, NB goes out, DE inside, Willard barely makes tackle. Gain of 6...Hawkins too slow to keep up with Swygert on another Out cut on Boundary. Field side blitz...We blitz again, everybody runs past the RB with the ball and he goes 20 for a TD. 3 missed tackles - Meeks, Hawkins made 2 of them. 10 plays 80 yds, 5:03, 20-7 Clemson

They are catching us in blitzes and moving Swygert around to get a matchup for him. Hawkins is useless against him, but Brewer keeps getting caught out of position. We're trying to disguise the coverages and they catch us when we finally show our real coverage. Rolling from C3 looks into C2.

This drive is a lack of focus in sum however.

CU from 33 - IZ for 1. No movement inside...B Ford at the boundary on a stop, 1st down. AE made a nice stick on the blitzing LB...Watkins on a comeback route for 16...Draw, no gain...Good coverage and Boyd scrambles for the 1st down. Gain of 12. He had AE as a checkdown but decided to not throw it...PA pass to Nuk, batted down by the DB, just  good play...Watkins between 2 guys on a seam route, Kuechly was holding him and he still caught the ball down to the 7...TO CU...Rooskie play for 5 for Hot Rod...TO CU...PI called on BC in endzone. Jim Noel was on Hopkins' back I guess, but it doesnt look like PI to me...TO BC...Pass thrown too low, deflected at the LOS. Nice play by the LB. 18 yd FG. 23-7 Clemson.

Ran out of time or this would be another 4 points. Would've been nice to be able to run the ball, in which case we would've gotten the 2 yards we needed on 2 plays to get the 6, but we cant move people inside.


Aside from the one drive, they havent done much to us. 142 yards total, 72 rushing and 70 passing. 4.9 yards per play, but most of that came on one 80 yd drive. No excuse for that loss of focus.

Offensively, we arent showing anything new that I can see. Tajh is still throwing a few high passes and forced the one, but otherwise playing very well. 13/22 for 194.

We're a drop away from being up 27-7, and if we could run the ball it would be 34-7.

Field position has been very good for Clemson. We're constantly on their side of the 50.

Clemson 6.7 ypp, 295 yards total. 194 passing and 101 rushing. 44 offensive plays.

Both the reverse and the Panther play to Hot Rod feel like Dabo. Chad doesnt use the Panther in his Tulsa tape, Clemson has used it several times. Thats Dabo. I'm not convinced that Morris had anything to do with the call, but it did net 5.

3rd QTR

CU from 20 - Counter H for no gain...Boyd too high to Brown in the flats...Empty, Nuk on a Post route for 22...IW, PA pass and its horrid from the start. BC blitzed and Boyd didnt get rid of it, then almost did the same thing that he did against FSU. TAKE THE SACK TAJH. ...Boyd deep to Sammy down the sideline for 62 yards, great catch because the defender did have pretty good position on him...Power sweep, nobody picked up the OLB because they outnumbered us to that side. Don't like the playcall in that case. They had numbers...Boyd hits Allen at the 2, this is the play where he's hit. Brandon Thomas fails to block Holloway coming off the edge....3rd & Gl at the 3, Cole Stoudt Bootleg caught out of bounds to Nuk. FG, 26-7 Clemson. 9 plays 77 yards, 03:25

Tajh finished the day 15/25 for 278, 1 TD passing and another rushing.

Gotta be able to run the ball there from inside the 10. If we could, we'd be over 40 points scored today.

BC from 40 - No one sets the edge, OZ gets 7. Goodman got reached, gotta get off that blocker...Missed tackle inside, Finch bounces out and Hall makes the tackle at the marker...IZ, DT goes too far inside and Branch can't catch RB, goes for 9. Hawkins out of position...OZ, gets 7 on a cutback lane where Hawkins should be...Rettig forces one deep down the sideline, Meeks INT. 5 plays 26 yards, 02:22

Bad drive by the defensive line and LBs. Getting blown off the ball and Hawkins pressing the wrong gap.

CU from 1 - IZ for 1. Pistol, IZ and MCCLAIN DOESNT BLOCK AT ALL. MOVE YOUR FEET. Almost a Safety.IZ for 3. Punt.

Got to be conservative there with the backup QB in.

BC from CU 47 - BC pushes us backwards 3 yards on a Zone, gets 4...LB Blitz, Rettig hits the drag route for short gain. Nice tackle by Willard...Branch flagged for roughing the passer, BS call...IZ for 3...Swygert beats Hall to the inside from the slot, two missed tackles, TD. 26-14 Clemson. 4 plays 47 yards,

Make the damn tackle.

CU from 20 - IV jet sweep to Bellamy for 15...Bubble to Watkins for 8...IV jet sweep for 5...Bellamy fails to recognize blitzer, doesnt know where to line up, Stoudt has to get rid of it too high in flat...ZR keep for 7...Inside screen, two nice blocks outside (Cloy got one, TE the other) and Watkins gets 8...IZ, they blitzed outside into it, no gain...ZR bootleg hit Humphries for 5, same play as earlier to Humphries...Counter H for 5...Stoudt throws one right at the LB, should've been INT. Too low a throw to the man behind him...Bellamy moved before snap, false start...Blitz off the edge, they outnumber us and get the sack. Price was engaged already. This blitz should've been adjusted to by Cole, that man is his responsibility to see...Draw for 8. 47 yd FG barely. 29-14 Clemson. 13 plays 50 yds.

On this drive you see why Bellamy doesnt get more snaps. Stoudt was telling him where to stand, and he didnt see the blitzer that he had to pick up off the edge until it was too late to cut his legs out. Later he gets the false start.

The blitz was a CB blitz, not Price's job to pick up since he already had the DE. Its Cole's job to see him and adjust protection, but Cole didnt look over there.

BC at 14 - Power for no gain. Andre Branch all over it. Start 4th QTR. Kimble makes a great catch on a swing route for 2...LB blitz, Sensabaugh on the swing route for gain of 1. Punt.

More intensity from the defense here after the kickoff penalty pissed off the crowd.

CU from 42 - Power O, cut outside for 6...Bubble to Joe Craig for 8...Bucksweep for MB for 2...IV jet sweep, he only gets 2. Should've bounced further out...Ford catches an Out at the marker...Counter for Andre Ellington on 4th down. 36-14 Clemson. 6 plays 58 yards, 02:11

Notice how BC overshifts to one side, then the FB movement fakes them out. They press and get outnumbered when we bring the counter back to the other side. Good playcall and execution.

BC from 37 - Draw for 3...Sack by Kourtnei Brown...Swygert wide open in the middle of the field, 16...OZ for 5, pushed us off the ball...Swygert drops short pass...Delay of Game...LB blitz, Breeland too far from his man to make a play, goes for 16...Key blitz, Branch missed him once and got him from behind when Willard missed him...Draw for 6...Goodman misses a sack, Rettig scrambles for 2. Still got nailed by BT...4th & 7, Rettig throws one up out of bounds. Turnover.  10 plays 32 yards

Ton of blitzes and stunts on that drive, which had a few more backups in up front. Clemson has probably blitzed more today than any other game this year.

CU from 31 - Counter for 12...IZ, nobody moves anybody...Hot Rod on a swing route, gain of 1. Kuechly made a good play on it...Empty, LB breaks up a dumpoff to Sam Cooper in flat. Stoudt had an open man downfield. Punt.

BC from 20 - Shinskie in. OZ, we're all over it...Power off tackle for 9. Corey Crawford got reached, Meeks got arc-blocked...Power off tackle, this time Crawford got off it. Got 2...Dumpoff to back caught and he got nailed...False start on 4th & 3...Pass over the middle incomplete. Turnover

Clemson takes a knee.



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Summarizing Thoughts


Low spot of the day was the one long drive by BC against starters where we lost focus on what our jobs were. Clemson was sprinkling some younger guys in, but we did not wholesale substitute until the 4th quarter, so this was on starters.

My other major complaint is still the tackling. We miss too many in space and if we shore this one thing up, we'd be creeping into the Top 25 on defense at the end of the year. I think BC ended up with too many rushing yards for this game (126) given their top 2 RBs were sittin on the bench. The YPC was good enough, at 3.6.

BC couldnt pass coming in, and you saw their only weapon was Swygert. Clemson seemed to always be caught in a disguise and he'd get open immediately because someone forgot where they should be standing. The completion percentage for the game actually ended up being higher than we've allowed all year (63.6%) as a result.

Clemson's defense blitzed a ton today as well, and I don't have a problem with that other than them being able to hit the passes against zone blitzes and man coverage. Rettig got the shit beat out of him and he kept stepping up and delivering the ball anyway. Be thankful we don't play in a big passing conference or our stats would be way worse this far into the year.

We're improving, but we're not there yet defensively. I said in the preseason that we'd finish between 25-40th in total defense, in part thanks to our schedule softening up somewhat here in the middle offensively. Right now we're 49th. We'll get up there. We're top 25 in scoring now, which I think will continue to get better. Gotta tackle better, control the C gaps better, and have to focus on 3rd down better than we are.

Offense -

Another 500 yard day, but imagine how good this offense would be right now if we could get 4ypc+ on the inside zone? It would open up every part of the field for us to use. BC let Kuechly handle the middle and they overplayed the sweeps a little, which is why Watkins didn't get so many jet sweeps. If we could move people inside, we score 2 more TDs today. Take out Ellington's long TD and he only gets 3.9 ypc. That needs to come up. Some is on him, but I still think most of it is on the G-C-G combo.

BC watched the VT film, and went to a lot more Quarters than they usually play, and made an effort to bracket Watkins and Nuk, but it still leaves the flats open and we hit them again. Unfortunately for BC, they don't have as many guys that are as good at underneath coverage as VT did (Kuechly and Pierre-Louis being exceptions).

Pass protection though has considerably improved. We're picking up the zone blitzes we weren't getting picked up earlier this year. BC did try to blitz us and didn't get enough pressure from it.

Steele this week:

Can you comment on Jonathan Willard’s continued strong play?

Relentless effort, very focused, knows the scheme and is a very good tackler. Just does his job play in and play out.

Everybody sees when somebody gets three sacks, but then they had two 20-yard runs in his gap. Everybody sees the sacks, but nobody knows he was out of his gap. Tig is one of those guys at the end of grading the film, he kind of goes unnoticed because he does his job. They don’t throw at him, he’s in his gap so they don’t run in his gap, and he collects tackles for everybody else.

So he’s kind of the unsung guy, if you will, because he doesn’t get all the accolades of making this play and this play. But he doesn’t get all those minuses nobody sees.

It’s football IQ that makes the difference in a seasoned defense. You don’t know how many defenses out there have good players – a lot of them. They’re in different stages of growth because of football IQ.

When you line up out there, it’s no so important you know what they’re going to do, because they may do this, this and this. But I know they’re not going to run this, this and this.

We probably have some young guys playing who probably still don’t realize when they line up one-back, four-wide, they’re not going to run the Power O. We may practice the Power O, but they can’t run that out of that.

That’s the thing with football IQ. Eliminate what they’re not going to do so you can focus on the two or three things they may do rather than everything you practiced against all week.

Your front four continues to take over.

You expect that out of Brandon (Thompson). He had five or six games last year where he was a dominant player. I think a lot of it, too, is it’s hard to be a factor when you’re a nose guard and they’re throwing bubble screens and slants out to the boundary, and we had that the first couple of games. Really not a lot of drop-back passing. Just catching it and throwing it. So it really was a DB, linebacker game those first couple of games. Even the option game we had was a perimeter game.

(Andre) Branch and Malliciah (Goodman) have played pretty well, Shatley’s played pretty well. Then Rennie (Moore) has done some good things.

You have to have pocket pushers. What’s been created is we have one-on-one matchups on the (offensive) tackles with Branch and Malliciah. So that’s a hard day’s work for an open-edge tackle.

How has Thompson impacted what opponents do offensively and what you can do schematically, especially against the zone read?

Well, if they’re running the zone-read, obviously we’d have somebody assigned to the quarterback, and numerous times we’ll have two guys assigned. So if we execute correctly, that should be a give-read. And if it’s give-read, that zone play becomes an inside run. Now, if you let them get rolling or they feel their guy can outrun that guy you have assigned, it doesn’t go inside.