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Auburn Game Film Review

I'm going to go pretty much drive by drive here until the 4th, offense and defense, not every play but most of them. See the end for the summarizing thoughts. I've used TNet videos where I think they do well, but they are sideline shots and don't show the plays develop. 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.

The animated drive chart is at the end.

ESPN Play-by-Play

Aub from 25 - Bubble for 2...bucksweep for 14, Coty Sensabaugh nowhere close but also the Safety got cracked....false start...Branch is all over a zone read, horrid read by Trotter...Reverse for 9...Slant incomplete. Sensabaugh all over him. Punt

Watch the WR on the boundary and the LB

Crack1_medium Crack2_medium Crack3_medium

Once the seal is made by the crack, he's free. Notice Goodman isn't pushing backwards here.

Clemson is playing mostly 4-2-5, M2M. We're standing Andre up on the end like a 7 technique, with a 4i beside him in a 3-3, but he's blitzing anyway.

CU from 13 - Allen in the flat on waggle for 5...IV jet sweep for 4...IZ for half a yard because Antoine McClain can't block a Safety on a blitz. Punt

See that he sees the guy, and has time to set himself.


And whiffs.


Aub from 31 - McCalleb in the flat for 17, Hawkins man...Dyer takes it 52 yards on a bucksweep. 7-0 Auburn. 2 plays 69 yards.

Sensabaugh tried to cut an OL and took himself out of the TD play. Steele chewed his ass after that too. He has corner support there and cannot do that. Hawkins got cracked by the WR

CU from 20 - flat throw to AE incomplete...Buck sweep and the CB here does the right thing, and dives through the legs of everyone, Cloy and AE..Thrown high short of the sticks to Allen. The man in the slot to the inside of Allen was the better choice. Punt

The flat throw appears to be backwards to me, making it a lateral and a fumble. It was not called.

Auburn isn't doing much on defense. They are 4-2-5 and occasionally blitz, and its mostly Cover 1 Man.

Aub from 46 - Swing pass dropped...Reed for 13 at the boundary on an read handed off and Brewer at the boundary forces it out...Branch whips his OT and forces a holding call. Thrown away...Draw play, Kourtnei Brown and Moore all over it. KB made a good play, used his eyes....Half-roll thrown to a stop route for 15...4th & 4, Meeks bites curl pass thrown to Emory Blake for 36 yd TD. The curl & Go route suckered Breeland and he got separation. Meeks should've been on this. 14-0 Auburn. 6 plays 54 yds.

Meeks' has good run instincts, but I think his pass instincts suck. If anyone bites on that, it should be Breeland. The safety is just there to help.

CU from 20 - End around to MB, loss of 3. No movement on left side...Boyd hits Nuk on a crosser for 5...Jaron Brown makes a nice catch on a slant inside for the 1st... Power O for 3...Brown on a Dig, ball thrown too high. Was wide open...Ellington on a screen, McClain decides not to block for him and its stopped. Punt

McClain was standing there watching him.

Auburn isn't doing anything extravagant on D. They sit back in base Cover 1 or play some spot Cover 2/4.

Aub from 4 - We blitz on a IZ and Hawkins doesnt make a great tackle. Gain of 6...Again and Crawford gets to him off the edge for 2...Buck jet sweep again to McCalleb and we got hooked on the edge again, gain of 8...Power for 4...Bucksweep and Goodman gets around the OT unblocked to break it up...We stunt inside and Brown/Branch get a coverage sack.

CU from 40 - Sammy for 8 on a slant...IZ for 8...Boyd underthrows deep ball to Watkins just a bit. He had to slow down or it would've been 6. Pass could've been caught however...Boyd on a zone keep for 5...Watkins on a stop route for 11...Nuk catches it at the sideline at the 5, nice throw....QB keep for loss. No movement on right side. End 1st QTR. Boyd hits Nuke for 4 yd TD on a quick inside slant. 14-7 Auburn. 8 plays 60 yds.

Slant/Flat combo between him and Allen. This is a sight adjusted pass. If the CB is playing press, the route by Nuke is a fade. If the CB plays off, he goes on the slant inside, and Nuk can set a natural pick against Allen's man if need be.

Clemson mostly in Inverted Wishbone.

AU from 10 - Wildcat right up the left side for 8....IZ for 7...IZ and Moore eats it up. Blew right past the Guard...Brewer flagged on PI, don't agree with the call. Looking for the ball and they made contact....Speed option reverse and Hawkins can't make tackle, gets 2...Trotter on ZR keep, Branch was not using his eyes at all, went straight to RB...IV for 2...Trotter has all damn day to throw to Trevon Reed, who beat Robinson on the post (bad angle), and there was no safety. Thrown too high...Horrid Holding not called on Moore, thrown incomplete...Goodman loses edge containment on a sack attempt, Stallworth open in the corner for 20...Power and horrid tackling gets Dyer 9...Power for 2...TO...Power off tackle, Sensabaugh missed a tackle...Illegal motion...McCalleb on a reverse for 2. Face mask on Sensabaugh...Power for 3...Counter for 1...Power for TD. 21-7 Auburn, 16 plays 90 yds.

Just basic Power O plays over and over on us to either side. Lutzenkirchen seals the edge cleanly every time.

We were noticably tired on this drive. Lots of sluggish feet on these Power plays. Notice they basically ran the ball right at us every play.

CU from 19 - Watkins for 25 on jet sweep. Ellington sealed the edge for him....IZ for about 5...ZR pass to the flat to Brown, breaks a tackle for the 1st. Like the effort...Pitch to AE and he had no blocks. Auburn stayed home...Power PA pass to Bryant on a Go route, thrown to the inside too much or it would've gotten PI...Screen but Boyd doesnt take it, finds Peake on a hot read on a slant for 17...Power pass incomplete, thrown way too far ahead...Draw for 3....Allen on an Corner (Smash) for 18...bucksweep, nobody set the edge, no gain....Boyd pressured on PA, thrown away. They blitzed right into it...TO...Boyd finds DA behind the coverage in the back of the endzone for TD. 21-14 Auburn, 12 plays 81 yards, 03:48

This drive is all Tajh in my mind. Clutch throws in clutch situations. Notice in the vid what the CB was doing

AU from the 20 - Draw, loses 5. We jumped the snap...Offsides, AU changed the snap count...Trotter scrambles and leaves Goodman behind, for 8....Trotter flushed out and thrown incomplete. Punt

3rd & long 1, why didnt they run a Power?

CU from 25 - IZ to MB, no gain...Watkins on a slant for 8...Watkins on a stop for 13. 3-man Levels route to one side...Jet sweep fake to Watkins then throws it to him in the flat for 6...Speed option to AE for 9, good blocking outside...Boyd forces ball to Watkins on a Go route, they commit PI. Underthrown a little again...Boyd zips one to Brown on a Dig, good effort by Jaron, but not great throw....Allen on a wheel route, great catch...Lead Power for TD. 21-21, 8 plays 75 yds

 He works on hitting that WR in stride and we're up 7 here

AU at 21 - Christian misses tackle on a screen, lowered his head and dropped, Reed cuts upfield for 16....Slant for 9....Takes shot deep on a Go, incomplete...Trotter bulldozed by Branch on a post throw that went too far ahead. Flattened his ass. Punt.


Auburn has had success running Power plays and a few zones, but they're not having an easy time moving Thompson and Moore. I'm surprised they didn't try a quick trap that Wofford used on Moore. The most lethal play has been the buck sweep, and thats because our DEs get sealed/hooked on the edge in the C-gap. Watch the vid of the Dyer TD above, watch the LBs and Goodman. Once he's sealed the two pullers come around and hit the first thing they see. We're getting the 2nd and 3rd level guys cracked by the playside WR in that case, and the CB is usually Sensabaugh who has little chance against a lineman yet still doesnt attack it the right way.

You're supposed to yell "Crack! Crack!" when you see a crackback block in progress, so the other safety will come down to fill, but I don't think we are doing a good job of it. This and tackling are Clemson's main problems in the 1st half. Schematically we look fine to me, but I might change the crack replacement scheme.

Now if I were Malzahn I'd keep coming right back to the buck and Power. However, Trotter just doesn't seem that prepared. He needs a few short passes to get his confidence up but they're only going deeper. Even though our CBs are young, and the youngsters are playing a lot, their WRs don't seem to have much.

Auburn's defense is about as vanilla as can be. They are sticking in their base and sending the safety a few times, thats it. Its mostly Cover 2, 4-2-5, and they arent showing more than a smoke blitz. Thats about as basic as you can get. They don't even pattern read us in zone.

Clemson is getting zilch on IZ, but I'm surprised we aren't trying more gap scheme plays like Power or counter, we should be coming out with perimeter plays since our OL can't move people. We did get some yards out there on a buck.

AU - 42 plays, 157 yds rushing, 128 passing, 4/9 on 3rd down

CU - 40 plays, 64 yds rushing, 171 passing, 6/9 on 3rd down.

3rd QTR

CU from 20 - Bellamy is in there. Watkins on a bubble for 11. Good blocks....Jet fake QB zone keeper for 4...Jet sweep to Bellamy from Firehouse formation, he hits the jets and doesnt wait on his blocks. If its zone, you need to wait some for the crease...Hits Watkins on a snag route, and he takes it to the house for 65. 28-21 Clemson, 4 plays 80 yards.

Watch the corner route go over the top of the route he runs, then he sets a block. Auburn fucked that up by not clamping man/man once the play starts. Watch the TWO auburn guys in position to tackle Watkins.

The actual play does appear to be a 3-man snag route discussed here.


AU from 40 - Bubble screen dropped, dropped an easy one....Stallworth catches a delayed slant right where a LB should be standing, because they pump faked to a bubble screen again...Speed option loses 2, excellent play Brewer. They didnt block on the edge...Trotter pressured and the ball bounces off Sensabaugh's stomach...Trotter can't outrun Willard to the boundary for short loss. Really a coverage sack there. Punt. 5 plays 13 yards

You see what happens when we make sure they don't seal us on the edge?

CU from 12 - IZ for 2. Ellington is in...Speed option gets to the 1st down. Nice seal on the edge by Watkins and Allen...Bellamy takes a jet reverse bucksweep to another 1st, excellent elusiveness....IV loses yards, Boyd made the wrong read. Boyd has to let Bellamy have the ball. Can't hesitate there. Auburn's DE stayed in good position however..Power pass to Allen right under the LB for the 1st...IW, Boyd overthrows Watkins. He locked on Watkins there from the start. Hopkins open on a crosser...QB Draw for 7...Stop route to Nuk, barely caught it...Jet sweep to SW, 6...Bellamy on a swing route for 4...Firehouse, same jet sweep to Bellamy for 9 and he fumbles it. Not holding onto the ball properly. Turnover. 11 plays 70 yards, 03:55

Auburn's defense is just sitting there in zone and its not good. They're spot dropping and reading the plays, and can't even do that. You're supposed to jump on the underneath routes when you drop. They are fundamentally very bad in their drop and read. Tajh is just picking it apart.

Bellamy holds the ball way too far from his body every time.

AU from 18 - Dyer on a bucksweep, right at Sensabaugh again and he's clueless...IZ gets 2 for McCalleb...Jet sweep, Willard is all over it. Goodman penetrated and forced it backwards for him....Caught at the marker for the 1st, can't tell whose responsibility. LB probably....Bubble and they dont have enough blockers to handle it. Sensabaugh stuffs it....Bucksweep, Thompson runs through his man to stop it.....Brewer breaks up a TD on a post/corner double move route. Nice play. FG. 28-24 Clemson 8 plays 62 yards, 03:01

I see why they took Dyer out for the next play, but then they left him out, why? He looks fine on the sideline.

Only thing that stopped the buck was the DL beating his man to the outside gap and forcing the RB to step backwards long enough for the LBs to penetrate.

CU from 20 - Wildcat Power, AE is limping...Peake on an out cut crosser for 23...bucksweep to Bellamy for 3. Allen was cheating in his stance, aligned inside to seal the DE, and they didnt see it....Pressure on the edge forces a scramble for 5....Jet sweep, Auburn misses Bellamy with 2 guys and he gets 5. Wasn't even good blocking at all...Watkins in the flat, he fights for 6...Power for a couple...IW, Watkins handoff on a stretch play, Auburn misses 2 tackles on him and he gets the 1st. Watkins was lined in the backfield in the inverted wishbone to the right side of the QB....D.J. Howard on a buck for 14. Brandon Thomas sprung it. Cut the CB hard....IZ for 1...Boyd overthrows Hopkins on a Hitch N Go, Hopkins froze his man on the hitch....Boyd to Watkins on a shallow cross, his coverman completely leaves him? Watch the block by Nuk on the edge. 35-24 Clemson. 12 plays 80 yards, 04:44

That block gives me warm fuzzies.

Typical Shallow cross play. One guy goes deep to take the top off the D. One guy runs a Dig backside and the back runs a flare route. When the LB goes to the Dig, the Shallow is open. If he turns to wall-off the Shallow, you hit the Dig.

Auburn would do better against it if they had anyone within 10 yards to do that.

Notice everything Clemson gets running the ball is outside.

AU from 28 - Bucksweep to Dyer, and Willard gets outside, Thompson forces it backwards again. He gets nowhere...Start 4th QTR...Coverage forces him to throw the ball away, but Thompson flattens him...Thrown high off the tips of the fingers. Punt.

Looks like the adjustment has been to dive hard to the playside gap when they pull both guards and force the RB backwards.

Also looks like Auburn will only run Dyer on a bucksweep, why?

CU from 18 - Power O for 5, MB...Stop to Nuk for the 1st...TO...Pistol, Power O for DJ for 9...Zone cut outside by DJ for 37 after Chad Diehl drives the Safety 7 yards back on the edge...Counter H for 3...Bucksweep to a reverse to Watkins, they stay home on the backside and we lose a yard...Boyd bounces one off the back of Hopkins' defender. Catanzaro for 38yd FG. 38-24 Clemson. 8 plays 62 yds, 2:55

This is really the first drive where we've had some success moving guys off the LOS inside. Auburn is also visibly tired. Jelly legs.

AU from 20 - Trotter flushed, Coty lets his man get under him and the FS is nowhere close. 41 yds completion on a Post/Dig...Power for 9.Dyer again....Power for 4....Speed option to McCalleb for 18...Buck for no gain. Branch got upfield and Willard comes around...Coty Sensabaugh picks off a pass to the flat, QB never read him because he thought it was man coverage.

That was a sure TD drive. Big play by Coty

Clemson takes the ball at the 5 with 9:34 left - Power O, Howard breaks 3 tackles but holds the ball out from his body...Jet sweep for 4...PA dump to Allen for 7, he barely moved from the LOS, their LBs are nowhere near him...Power sweep to MB for the 1st. Chad Diehl flagged for block below waist, he set a cut block but that is legal, so I dont understand the penalty since it wasnt downfield...Boyd hits Nuke at the 1st down marker on a stop. Way too soft a zone coverage...6 yd Power sweep negated by penalty on formation. Didnt cover the Tackle...Power jet sweep to watkins for 2...Power pass and Boyd throws high to Allen, who jumps 2 feet to catch it for 7....Power O to MB for 5....Counter H and Bellamy stumbles for 4...We call TO because people dont know where to line up...Bubble screen for the 1st, nice block outside, looks like Marquan Jones...DJ Howard on a sweep for 8...Power sweep, no gain...Delay of game...TO Clemson, looks like somebody lined up wrong...They send 6 and Boyd hits Nuk who juggles the catch for the 1st down. Bounced off his chest initially...QB keep on a busted play for 9, Howard started outside and not where he should be going....TO Auburn...They blitz, Boyd sees his hot read but its too high to catch....Counter H for a couple, gets the 1st down with 1:32. We take a knee at their 20.

16 plays, 9 minutes run off the clock, about 75 yards total.


Notice that almost all of it was not inside, it was still on sweeps. However we did do a good job of moving them off the edge on those sweeps and the backside did their job.


Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Summarizing Thoughts

Offensively we were pretty good at everything except running the ball inside. Even at the end, we aren't running the bread & butter play of the offense: the inside zone. It looks to me that Morris will have to table that idea until the OL decides to muscle up on people inside.

Tajh played every bit as good as he looked. He missed a few throws, forced one or two, but otherwise his decision-making ability is where it needed to get to for this team to have a good season.

Ball security is a problem with these young RBs. Neither Howard nor Bellamy hold the ball like they are supposed to. The way they hold onto the ball scares the shit out of me.

3rd Down conversion rate is probably the best I can ever remember us having against a conference or major opponent.

That said, Auburn's defense is horrendous. You have to keep that in mind. This has to be one of the worst defenses I've ever seen. FSU 3 years ago was awful, but I think this Auburn defense is worse. They have no idea where they are supposed to be. Their CBs are wimpy aside from the one (Davis). Their safeties take bad angles. Their LBs are non-existent. They can't wrap up. This team has speed over there, and I know there is good talent on the DL, but this is truly shitty play. If I were an Auburn fan today I'd be calling for Roof's head. They don't even use anything complex enough to need simplfication.



Steele as usual made a good adjustment, but again it was not a big one. It just seems to be a slight change in crack replacement, and the way the DE attacked the bucksweep that consistently killed us early. This is why you see Willard having a better game today compared to the others: he isn't getting cracked and the DE stuffs the OT back into the play, forcing the RB to step backwards, and that gives the LB a chance to cut into the gap and make a play.

Meeks was everything they said he was in the preseason against the run. Against the pass, not so much. He's there, but he's not doing what he should be. He wants to hit, but at safety your job is to defend the pass as the last line of defense, let the CB jump on the double moves. He must use his eyes and play the position properly. Don't go for the big hit if you can't wrap up. Don't go for the INT if you see the man can make a play on the ball. Play defense.

Clemson's #1 problem was in setting the edge, and it was the problem last week. Auburn had some yardage on the Power plays, but they gave up on it. I don't see why. Everything else they got was in sweeps or off-tackle running.

We got to Trotter enough that he never got in rhythm, and as you all know, this offense is based off that. We got the hits after the ball got out to make them count, even though the sacks didn't come. They were in max-protect quite a bit. He didnt read our coverage well, and I wasn't worried about Auburn's WRs in the passing game coming into the contest either. They are a year or so away in that department. The #1 thing I'd ask Malzahn is "Why the hell did you stop running Dyer?" We didn't stop him today, they stopped him for us.