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ACC Championship Film Review

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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.

ESPN Play-by-Play

CU from 22 - Counter H off OT for 9...IZ for 3...Bootleg quick pass to Ford for 5...Wildcat Power for no gain. VT blitzed off the backside edge and ran down AE....Tajh scrambles for 3. Had a screen called and VT was all over it from the start. Punt. Not a good one.

Quick easy passes called.

VT from 25 - LB blitz on what looked like a read option play that was botched. Don't think Wilson knew it was a read play. Stephone Anthony put his shoulder into the ball as Branch tackled Thomas. Clemson recovers.

The biggest thing Clemson needed for the last few weeks was a big play early to get us confidence. This was a huge turnover. It was our first turnover forced in 4 games.

CU at VT 24 - Bucksweep, and the guy MCCLAIN IS SUPPOSED TO BLOCK MAKES THE TFL...Tech blitzed off the edge against a half-roll pass to Sammy off Jet action, incomplete...Dwayne Allen on a wheel route for the 24 yd TD pass. Broke 2 tackles. Fuller was not watching him in M2M coverage, complete bust. 7-0 Clemson. 3 plays 24 yards, 00:38

VT from 34 - Screen and Thomas cant get it to Wilson...Quick slant to Coale for 7 and Hall plants his ass...Another to Boykin for 10 against Brewer...Slant thrown to the dirt to Boykin, reviewed incomplete. Brewer was up in Press and did not jam....Thomas to Wilson on a flare, Brewer slams him immediately. Loses a yard...Downfield coverage good enough to force another dump to Wilson and we immediately tackle. Branch held BADLY on the play. Punt.

Why did they never run the ball?

Clemson is playing a mix of press 1 and 2 zone/quarters. We're primarily in Nickel.

CU from 10 - IV Jet for 6. Havent seen that play in a while...Flare to AE, loss of 1. Tech read it well....Tech sends blitz and Boyd hits Nuke where they came from for 7...Counter H for loss of 1. Allen ran into the back of McClain...Boyd steps out as Sammy comes back to the sticks for 10. Boyd probably should've stepped up instead of outside the DE there. Clemson in max-protect...IZ for 3. No push at all but got 1st down...Bucksweep for 9, McClain did actually hit someone...IZ for no gain...Tech blitzes off the edge on an IZ for no gain. Punt.9 plays 33 yards, 04:36

We get to 2nd & 1 and can't move 4 guys with 7 blockers, twice.

VT from 23 - Iso for 4...OZ for a loss. Rashard Hall blitzed right into it...Davis for 21 between Brewer, Meeks and Sensabaugh. If Brewer had been looking, its an INT...Lead IZ and we can't tackle Oglesby, gets 8. Anthony had him at 4...Brewer/Hall beaten for 45 yd TD. 7-7. 5 plays 77 yards, 02:46

Took his eyes off his man in M2M coverage after the double move and looked at the QB. Can't do that.

Safety also came up bigtime because of PA, and I don't know what the hell he was thinking. A FS in Cover 1 should kill anyone coming up the seam. By the time Hall noticed him it was too late to do squat about it.

CU from 20 - ZR, Boyd keeps, then takes the pass option to Bryant outside for 2. Correct read both times...ZR, Boyd keeps and steps around the blitzing S for 2...End 1st QTR...Boyd throws one up an elevator to Jaron Brown, nice catch for 17 on the Boundary. Nice read of the CB...Tajh has all day in max-protect, but throws away...Price looked inside at the blitzing LB, Howard appeared to have edge responsibility on the DE, and barely touched him. Subsequent dump to Howard incomplete as Boyd is hit...Go route to Sammy incomplete. Great coverage. Boyd hit and Price looks like he can't move enough to keep up with the speed rush. Boyd had the RB wide open underneath. Punt. 6 plays 21 yds.

Hosley went out as the quarter expired.

Clemson is in max-protect almost all the time. Guys aren't getting open quick enough for him downfield because we're only sending 3 on routes.

VT from 13 - Zone for 2...QB Draw for 8. Hawkins walked right into the RB blocking and didnt get off it. Hit him straight on...Blitz into a screen. BT basically tackled the RB before he ever got a release....Zone for 2...Breeland got beat inside but recovered and batted away a pass on a slant. Got beat inside initially because he put a bad jam on the WR. Punt.

Still dont understand why they don't try to get under center and run out of the I-form with Wilson.

CU from 27 - IZ for 2...PA, Boyd keeps and passes it to Peake for 17...IV Jet for 9...Bucksweep for 2, no McClain did not block and didn't hustle to get in front of AE to do so...Quick toss to Sammy for 13...Dump flare to Sammy for 5. Good checkdown...Bucksweep PA, Boyd kept it and Nuk was sittin wide open for 20...Power for 4...Clemson only sends out 2 receivers, VT blankets them, Boyd scrambles for no gain...ZR on 3rd & goal, Boyd keeps for no gain. Disagree with playcall. FG good. 10-7 Clemson. 10 plays 71 yards, 04:07

DE really made that ZR fail. He properly stepped down into the rushing lane and Boyd hesitated just a second. Boyd made the right read to keep it, but the bad block by Price on the MLB is what stuffed his run.

Very nice drive by Clemson there, but don't like running a Zone read at the 2 on 3rd down at all.

VT from 38 - Stretch play and we just dominate the line. No gain...Thomas throws a nice pass to Wilson running a streak up the gut, Carlton Lewis lays the wood and forces him to drop it....Branch beats the OT and hits Thomas as he releases, incomplete. Punt.

CU from 2 - Bootleg, pass to Sammy out of bounds. Scary play call and Boyd got hit as he released in the endzone...IZ, AE goes 32. Tech had him at the LOS and missed the tackle. Really good block by Thomas on 2nd level...Quick toss to Nuk for 4....WR screen and Boyd throws away under pressure since two OL forgot to block (guess who one was?)....Price beat off the edge, sack. He took inside rusher and never really blocked either guy.

Punt, 15 yard roughing called. That ball hit the VT player's head.

Quick toss to Watkins, they read it from the start. Loss of 1....Flare to AE, VT was all over it. Loss of 4...Blitz, Boyd hit as he releases. That one was a protection problem, not a specific player. They sent two at McClain and he took the inside guy as he should. Generally the RT will be to blame here, as he should take the inside guy. Punt. 8 plays 40 yds. 3:01

VT from 16 - Thomas scrambles for 4...Bubble screen for 4....TO VT... ZR keep for 3...Branch offsides...Speed option pitch to Wilson, Goodman took Thomas and Meeks made a great play...Wilson steps outside Goodman, who was held, gets 11...Sack by Rennie Moore. That OG just let him go...TO VT...2nd & 21, Branch gets a stupid stupid Roughing Penalty and Tech gets it at our 48...Slant for 19 because no one was playing Press. Cover 4 is too soft...TE gets free over the middle for 13...Hall blitz forces bad throw incomplete...Wilson tripped by Jenkins for 2...QB draw, Holding called...VT completely fucks up clock management and has to kick the FG. 10-10

We gave them that FG on the dumb penalty.


I think Tech's OL is making our DL look better than they are, but I also don't believe VT's front matches up well with us. Not fast enough on their feet, and I don't see much fire in the run game. Thankfully we've done very well at tackling in space and getting pressure.

I don't know why they haven't tried to line up and just pound the rock. Some screens might take more pressure off Logan Thomas. 6 carries for 20 yards for David Wilson.

Some plays we haven't see a lot of out of Morris lately have resurfaced. We suggested some had gone missing last week. It does not feel to me that we're forcing the things we were trying to by playcall before. There is more variety and rhythm. Tajh isn't hitting all of his checkdowns quickly enough but he is looking for them more.

Our OL is not as impressive as I thought watching it live. Protection is better yes, but we're in max-protect as much or more in this game than we have been all year. We aren't sending 5 guys on routes. I don't even need to say who forgot to block the most often.

Start 3rd QTR

VT from 34 - SS blitz. Pass batted by Goodman...Power sweep for 4...Stephone Anthony completely free on a B-gap blitz, hammers Thomas as he releases. Intentional grounding called. Punt.

3 & out.

CU from 13 - Counter H for 13...Nuk stop route at the sticks for 18. Right at Hosley's replacement....Wildcat, Counter H, CB reads it and heads into the backfield as the ball is snapped. Loss of 6. I don't see why Dwayne Allen didn't attempt to block him. Price went down here...Nuk stop route for 22 at Hosley's replacement...Jet sweep for 12. Sammy holding the ball too loose a bit, fumbles but Allen gets it...WR Pass, Boyd lays a better block than McClain has all night. Hopkins was looking for Allen over the middle but he fell...QB Counter H for 8...Power speed option to Sammy for 5...Tajh keeps on a Run/Read option for 7. He could either pass or run it himself...Blitz, Hosley's replacement slips and falls leaving Allen wide open. 17-10 Clemson. 10 plays 87 yards, 03:21

Tech is scared of having Bonner up close on any of our receivers. He's playing so soft that the throws are just pitch & catch.

Nice mix of run/pass on this drive.

VT from 20 - Pressure smothers Thomas, he gets out and Branch does horse-collar him. Not flagged...Zone, BT pushes his man so far in the backfield that Wilson steps back, Hall gets there on the outside for 1 yard gain...Boykin catches a ball over Breeland, but pushed off. Was tight coverage...Speed option, Thomas breaks through for 6. Punt.

3 & out

If Boykin just uses one hand, he doesn't get flagged for that. He used two so they'll call it.

CU from 47 - Sammy for 53. Just a bootleg and he beat Chris Hill on a pump & go. 24-10 Clemson.

VT from 16 - Iso for loss of 3. BT blew that Center all to hell...Screen to Wilson, Kourtnei Brown tipped the pass...Thomas makes a great throw over the middle, over Jenkins, who knocked it out of Coles' hands. 28yd Punt.

3 & out. -13 yards in this quarter for VT.

CU from VT 41 - Allen on a wheel route up the sideline, incomplete...IZ for 12...AE on a bucksweep for 29 yd TD. 31-10 Clemson.3 plays 41 yards, 00:34

No Antoine didn't block anybody at all, and we still scored. Nice block by Cloy outside.

VT from 32 - IZ for 5...Toss dropped, bad one. Oglesby picked it up and got 1...Quick slant for 13. Zone coverage, looked like Brewer took someone else or Hawkins didn't pick him up, hard to tell...Sensabaugh bats away a pass. Throw was late...BT pushes his man into Thomas, falls down...Blitz, Coty Sensabaugh interfered and still let Boykin catch 29 yd pass. Boykin got unsportsmanlike for spiking it...Flare for 2...Bubble screen for 4...ZR keeper for 2. Bad execution of the mesh. Branch played it perfect...4th & 2, Drag pass dropped. Turnover. 10 plays 38 yds.

TE got hit in his chest, just dropped it.

CU from 30 - IZ for 10...Power for 5...Quick pass to Nuk for 7, CB playin too soft...QB Counter H for 7...Start 4th QTR... IV Jet Sweep for 23...Nuk on a hitch route to the 5...bucksweep for loss of 1, too much penetration got through. Mason Cloy missed his man, McClain did no better...Speed Option keep for 4...QB sneak for TD. 38-10 Clemson 9 plays 69 yards, 03:28

4 possessions, 4 TDs. This one was the best drive of them all. Got chunk yards on all but one play. Notice that its almost all rushing. Pretty much the core group of run plays we've run all year, nothing new, and the jet and Power are back. We rarely run the QB counter though.

Feels like some guys on VT side have just given up or are too exhausted to stop us.

VT from 18 - Hitch for 8...Bucksweep for 1...Slant for 4, followed by bad tackle gets him 7. Hall forgot he had arms to wrap with...Coles wide open over the middle against C2 for 20...Thomas scrambles for 1...IZ/ZR for 8...QB Sneak on 3rd & 1, Clemson flagged anyway for too many men on field...Thomas throws a duck over the middle to Meeks, who returns it 41 yds.

WR cut inside, Thomas threw one straight. Either he ran the wrong route, or (more likely) it just looks like Thomas threw it weak behind him.

VT had still driven 50 yards.

CU from VT 49 - Howard IZ for loss of 2. Looked like a run blitz was on...Tajh threw one wild over Bryant's head on a stop...Called QB Draw for 3. Clemson takes Delay and Punts. 3 plays -4 yds 1:46

VT from 20 - Slant for 8, between Anthony and Brewer...Stop route for 8...TE quick out for 10...Pass overthrown to Boykin on a deep cross...QB Draw for 3...Willard underneath a TE pass, bats it down...4th & 7, Breeland too soft on an Out, gain of 10...Thomas throws it to ground as Grady Jarrett gets pressure....Breeland bats down a quick underneath route. Man was double-covered...Blitz, Boykin beats Breeland inside for 19....Blitz, Willard bats away pass to TE over middle...Wilson underneath flare for 11. Bad tackle initially...Blitz, Thomas throws it right at Breeland who was underneath the route. 13 plays 72 yards, 02:55

Clemson was in 2-Zone and it was just too soft, thats why they had pass success. I don't think VT can get separation easily in Man.

We started blitzing and were in Man/Quarters. If you look at the video, the man Breeland was on got wide open over the middle if Thomas could've hit him.

CU from VT 34 - Clemson is running clock. Howard gets 2 carries, one a IZ and the other was a trick snap to Howard as Boyd looked away. Hot Rod gets 3 more and Stoudt one. 6 plays 14 yards. 3:00 Turnover on downs.

VT from 21 - Thomas overthrows Boykin, who was open...IZ/ZR for 4...Thomas throws behind his man due to pressure...Another throw over the head ends it.

Clemson takes a knee.


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Summarizing Thoughts

Energy was the real difference. We looked like we were prepared and motivated to win the game from the first snap. Once we got the turnover from them, it raised our confidence and our intensity didn't drop until the 4th quarter.

Virginia Tech does not have the willpower to beat our guys in this game. Let me point that out before I say that if you look at just these two games, it looks like Tech does not have the athletes to beat us in a one-on-one matchup. Thomas ran the Zone Read, but he's too slow to get through the line into the hole. Clemson wasn't doing anything special there. We just stayed in our gaps.

Their WRs could not beat us 1-on-1. Not enough speed or moves. Good enough players, because I think Davis is good as is Boykin, but not fast enough to beat our guys. Jamming wasn't that much better, but we maintained leverage pretty well. Between that and the pressure from the down 4 and an occasional Smoke, Thomas couldn't get rid of it quick enough.

We sold out to hit Wilson from the start, but Tech did not force the issue. I said after the first game that O'Cain did not have a good gameplan for us. I think the same thing now. What was he trying to do? It felt like watching us last year. Maybe if their OL had shown up it would've been different.


On the flip side, Morris didn't appear to be forcing things by call. He called a good game. Plays that we'd missed over the last month reappeared. Tajh didn't force balls into coverage as much, and took more checkdowns.

AE looked like the old AE. That initial burst was there again.

Tech was really hampered in their 2 Robber defense when Hosley went out. They had no answer for Allen in matchup, like just about everyone else we've played, but the backup played so soft outside that he couldn't make up the difference like Hosley could. They weren't able to jump short routes without him.

While McClain didn't run block much, the rest of the OL did well in both areas. Clemson was in max-protect a lot early to give Tajh more time and raise his comfort level. Tech didn't have enough up front to get through that often.

But you have to give Swinney credit for picking the team up. Its very hard to pick a team up from where they were Sunday. The team meeting he had last week did the trick. It should've been done before SC so the season wouldn't have a cloud over it.