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Troy Game Film Review

For those of you who are new to STS since last season, we evaluate the film each week after the game. The goal is to see who really played well and who didn't, and find out what the major problems were each game, and put it all at a reasonably understandable level to those who did not play football or have no type of X's and O's training. We want you to understand what the problem really is and why so you can be better informed.

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 Recap

ESPN Play-By-Play

1st QTR

CU from 41 - 1st play is a bucksweep off LT for 26 yards for AE...Backside WR screen to Watkins for the 6. This screen was a zone read fake and hits the bubble on the backside. The fake is called, whereas for the normal ZR the bubble is just an option for the QB. 7-0 Clemson, 2 plays 59 yards

Troy from their 22 - Crossing pass dropped. Christian was a step behind....IZ gets 2...They go to the crosser again and Christian stops him for a gain of 6. 3&out.

Clemson was in 4-2-5 Nickel to start, then 3-3-5 with Branch as a blitzer on 3rd down. Basically the same thing with a different look.

CU from our 31 - ZR fake pass down the middle to Hopkins in coverage, incomplete...Troy blitzes off the edge into a handoff and Boyd takes a loss...Boyd dumps a flat pass off to AE for short gain. Punt.

Punt is fumbled into Rashard Hall's hands.

CU from Troy 21 - speed option reverse to Watkins and Troy is at home, loss of 9...Pass to Allen on a wheel route down the sideline is overthrown out of bounds...IZ for AE right into a blitzer up the B-gap, gain of 1. Catman 45 yd FG. 10-0 Clemson, 4 plays -8 yards.

Speed option play was basically an OZ with Boyd and AE, Watkins came back across between them for a pitch. Troy has zone blitzed somewhere on every one of these plays, right into open gaps. McClain let the guy walk right by him on the last play.

Troy from their 20 - IZ for 2, about 3 people missed him...Quick slant for 5...quick Out for about 3...wildcat IZ for 5...Arrow to the RB incomplete, overthrown. Goodman did well to read that play...Smith beats Breeland right up the seam for 39, and Hall completely misses the hit. Hall had a clean open hit and ewnt for the pick. Bad angle..OZ for 5...Post is thrown incomplete, almost picked by Meeks...Anderson jukes Christian in the flats on an arrow for 6...Holding called on Troy...Bubble to the quads set for 7. Guys not gettin off blocks...OZ zone for 1, was missed in the backfield by Brandon Thompson...Sensabaugh beaten inside on a slant for 12. Meeks late to react....Pistol, HB Power for the TD. XP MISSED. 10-6 Clemson, 13 plays 80 yards, 5:34 off.

Breeland got beat on a Go route, but Rashard Hall was coming across and could've completely flattened the guy. He instead went right past him hoping the ball would go over the WR's head for a pick. That 39 yard gain didnt need to happen.

Sensabaugh just got beat inside, needed to get more physical at the snap to prevent that. Meeks was a little slow to react but I doubt he could've stopped it.

CU from the 20 - IZ for 4. Diehl was in as an H-back blocker...Inverted Veer gets eaten up in the backfield as Troy came off the edge. DE played it correctly and another guy coming inside stopped it. Boyd should've kept it...Empty, weakside zone blitz off the edge and B-gap forces Boyd to step up and he loses 5 on the sack. Punt. 4 plays 8 yards.

Wrong read by Boyd on the IV. DE stayed home and didnt overrun the play, but Boyd handed it anyway.  On the blitz, the right side picked up blitzers as they should've but Boyd has to account for the guy coming off the edge.

Troy from 37 - IZ, ball is just swatted out of his hands by Thompson against a 3-4 front. Clemson recovers.

CU from their 37 - Power for 6...Clemson goes max-protect, Boyd rolls out, and still gets sacked. Has to get rid of that ball...PA and Boyd steps out, runs downfield for 5 and fumbles. Their guy put his helmet on the ball. Clemson recovers. 46 yd FG Catman. 13-6 Clemson. 4 plays 8 yards, 2:04 off.

Boyd could not take that sack there, he needed to get rid of that football. We kept both the TE and RB in to block.

12 plays 10 yards since the opening drive.

Troy from their 31 - Ball overthrown to sideline...IZ for 6. DTs not generating movement there. END 1st QTR. Goodman flushes Corey Robinson and Stephone Anthony presses for the sack. Punt.

That is not a called blitz, Anthony saw Goodman flush and pressed the opening. He has that freedom in the scheme. Thats instincts.

CU from our 44 - Power O for 15...CU timeout...Boyd throws deep to Charone Peake down the sideline into double coverage. Like the call but not his read...Bucksweep for 7...False start McClain.. Sammy Watkins comes across on a Drag route and Boyd puts too much on it for him. Punt. 4 plays 17 yards.

Mostly Boyd there. Unlikely Sammy would've gotten the 1st, but that ball was too high and too hot to catch.

Troy from their 1 - Power for 11 yards. He walked through 3 tackles. One by Corico Hawkins, looked like one by Tony Steward too...OZ, Malliciah Goodman doesnt wrap up but we still get a loss of a half yard...False start...IZ for 7 up the middle...Goodman stops another zone for 2. Punt. 4 plays 16 yards.

Arm tackling. WRAP UP DAMMIT.

CU from our 44 - Power for 3. No movement by McClain/Walker...ZR for small loss...screen gets blown up because of a blitz up the middle, Boyd tries to hit Hopkins outside and it hits the dirt. Punt. 3 plays 2 yards.

Troy from 13 - Hitch for 6-7...ZR and Branch is playing it perfectly, loss of 2...Wildcat, he goes off-tackle and Tig Willard makes a great open field tackle for loss. Punt.

Better discipline there by the defense.

CU from our 38 - Boyd looks off his primary read and falls down...Blitz off the edge and Boyd hits Hopkins where the blitzer came from for 7...Boyd stares down the deep crossing route to Jaron Brown, throws into double coverage and its intercepted. Threw it right to the safety.

Boyd made one good play, and 2 bad ones. Ball is returned to our 8.

Troy from CU 8 - Wildcat IZ for 2...Pistol, Power for 2...Clemson blitzes and Goodman comes off the edge against an Empty set, forces an early throw high incomplete. FG good. 13-9 Clemson.

Good job by the defense there, but I think their playcalling is suspect. I'd have thrown on 1st down with this QB. The fake blitz by Hawkins freed Goodman up to come free, and they didnt have any way to account for him even after he was pointed out by Troy's players.

CU from 14 - Clemson goes back to the bubble screen to Watkins for 8. Same play as the TD earlier...Power play for no gain, Cloy got beat by his man inside and the right side moved no one...Another WR bubble screen to Jaron Brown and Troy is all over it because somebody outside missed a block. Punt. 3 plays 8 yards.

Not enough blocking is what killed this drive, but Troy played the 2nd screen as well as you can play it.

Troy from 39 - Meeks loses the crosser for 21. Guy was wide open...Justin Parker loses his back as he peels out late, and looks like he's injured his back...Wildcat zone read, Goodman misses him in the backfield, then Willard misses him, and the 3rd man brings him down. Gain of 5....Willard didnt pick the TE up, gain of 8...False start...TO Troy...WR heads up the seam on Sensabaugh, Meeks coming across and could flatten him, but misses and the TD is complete. Great catch, but Meeks could've laid the hammer and didnt. 16-13 Troy. 5 plays 61 yards.

Mental lapses on this drive and guys not having their eyes where they should be. Bad tackling.

CU from 16 - McClain gets his ass beat inside and Boyd sacked. Pitiful block....quick hitch in the flat to Nuk for 13...IZ to AE for 6.

End of Half

Game could be worse, if not for their turnovers.

Clemson can't run the ball because there are no holes opening up. Antoine McClain is not playing football. Freeman and Cloy are getting beat into the A-gaps and Walker as usual doesn't move a soul. Its nothing that Andre Ellington is doing wrong, but I do see a bit less explosion from him. I think he's a bit tired.

Tajh Boyd had a terrible 1st half. A couple of bad run reads. A few bad pass reads. Trying to force balls into coverage gets you beat. 6 of 12 overall for about 100 yards, the TD and the INT. The sacks are not totally on the OL either, he has to get rid of the football when its not there, and he walked into 2 of the sacks.

Defensive problems are primarily tackling, but a few big plays could've been prevented by the Safety. Inside movement by the DTs is nonexistent except for the few times they doubled the Center by hammering both A-gaps. We're running a few inside stunts and LB blitzes, its mostly Cover 2 4-2-5 and some 3-3-5 with a blitzer.

On defense Troy is running several weakside Fire zone blitzes and inside twists with the linebackers. The interior DL is giving us problems with ME-U and TEX stunts. Behind it, they are playing primarily Cover 3, which is normal to see in zone blitzes, and a little C2. Its a soft coverage, but some of our guys are just not working it to get open, and Tajh is not hitting the ones underneath that are.

62 yards on 28 plays for the Clemson offense after the first drive.

Start 3rd QTR

Troy from the 20 - Hitch for 10 against soft zone coverage...Counter for 4...blitz forces Robinson to throw it away...Quick slant for 6 and Rashard Hall hammers him...OZ for 4...ZR keep for 4...Wildcat, Power for 0 but formation penalty knocks 5 off...TO troy...Stunt between Goodman/Moore puts pressure on Robinson and throws errant pass incomplete. Punt.

Coveragewise I'm not seeing a big adjustment. We're playing some games to disguise it on the trips side but its zone C2.

CU from the 20 - Power Jet sweep to Watkins for 14...Boyd steps out of pocket and throws away, good move...Boyd steps up against a blitz and gets himself sacked. Shouldve thrown that away....Freeman beaten badly up the middle, Boyd sidesteps and throws to Allen, who shouldve caught the ball. Did not come back to it when he stopped. Punt.

Troy from 36 - Power for 7...Back in the flats and Willard misses open tackle for loss, gain of 2...IZ for 4...Crosser by the back for gain of 5...Pass too high for the back in the flat...Fire zone forces early throw, Lewis bats it down. Punt.

We played mostly backups on this drive. The pass to the flat for 2, Grady Jarrett hustled over there to make the tackle.

CU from the 20 - Counter for 4...Boyd throws a nice bullet to Jaron on a slant for 19...Power is TFL by Massaquoi, David Smith completely missed him pulling around...bucksweep for 5...Boyd finds Dwayne Allen open up the sideline 54 yds. LB took his eyes off him. 20-16 Clemson, 5 plays 80 yards, 1:51.

Troy from 27 - WR screen for 11, our guys can't get off blocks. Meeks misses tackle...OZ for 7, no edge containment from Kourtnei Brown...Swing route for 4, late getting off a block again...Jet sweep end-around gets nothing. Thompson and Goodman all stayed home like they should...Meeks bats away a quick hitch...Willard all over the TE on a drag route, bats away the pass. Punt.

Better coverage, but another missed tackle and struggling to get disengaged from blocks. Clemson is still in a 4-2-5 set with a few 3-3 blitzes.

CU from 20 - IV keeper for 0, Bellamy is in, and we werent lined up right...Bubble to Watkins for 3, same play as the TD again, but slightly different formation...Same play again, Watkins for 14, slight change to formation again...Quick hitch vs a blitz to Hopkins. Good hot read...Brandon Ford in motion for a little wheel route for 7...Boyd unprepared for the snap, loss...Same screen again for Watkins for about 8...Boyd rolls out to hit Watkins in the flat for 13...Bubble to Watkins for about 5...IV to AE for 5-6...Hitch to Nuk for another 1st down...IZ for 3...Boyd finds Jaron Brown on a slant for the TD between 2 white jerseys. Had to be a bullet or it wouldve been picked. Brandon Ford's pick of the LB opened the hole up. 26-16 Clemson. XP MISSED. 11 plays 80 yards, 4:31

First really nice drive. Tempo was way up, and the same screen play was called to either side but with a small change to formation. Usually we run it to the trips side.

Troy from 17 - Swing route and Brewer is held, 10 yard penalty...IZ for 67 yards when Stephone Anthony jumps into the wrong gap. END 3rd QTR.

We were in an EVEN front, stunt to one side and the DT went to the B-gap, the FB ran right up the A, and Brown didnt come around inside. Anthony pressed a seam too early and nobody was there to make the tackle.

WR screen for 9...ZR for 8 right up the B-gap, no LB there. There should've been someone in that gap, either Willard or Anthony...Fumbled exchange and Branch eats it up on an inside blitz...Anthony pulled down by the RB on a wheel route...Swing route to the flat, Brewer completely misses the tackle, 14 yds...IZ for a couple...OZ for 3...Power is blown up inside and Christian comes off the edge for a TFL. FG good. 26-19 Clemson, 11 plays 80 yards.

This drive was just gap control and missed tackling. Two guys not where they should be and weak open-field tackling.

CU from the 25 - Mike Bellamy, 75 yards on a Counter. 33-19 Clemson

Troy from their 8 - IZ for 4..Chitty beats Brewer on a Go route for 44. No safety (meeks) to be found but Brewer should not have been beaten like that...Deep cross overthrown...WR screen for 5. Brewer did better there...Ball overthrown down sideline...Ball thrown too high to flat, incomplete. Goodman forced that throw high. Turnover on downs.

CU from our 43 - Troy forced a screen throw early to AE, 2 yds...Jet Power PA and Boyd finds Bryant alone for 55 yards.

Power for 2...Massaquoi whips past Walker to force early throw incomplete, but Allen was open...Empty set, QB power for 1. Dont like the playcall...4th & Goal from the 1, we go Empty, another QB power and we cant get in. Nobody blocked at the intial POA.  

I really dont like that playcall, when you go Empty set especially. Two QB power plays, Smith doesnt get into the gap, and McClain/Walker arent moving anyone. Freeman didnt either. I'd have put Diehl in and ran the Iso, its in Morris' playbook. We cant get the ball in from the 2 and Chad is pissed.

Troy from the 1 - Blitz forces early throw, WR ran the wrong route...OZ for half a yard...Another blitz forces early throw. Punt.

Clemson's defense has been in our base 4-3 Under some in the last 2 drives. We're daring them to throw deep and blitzing.

CU from their 27 after punt penalty - Boyd throws to Watkins on a Go, just threw that ball up in the air...Counter for 1...False start Price...Empty, Boyd dumps it to AE for 4. 45 yd FG. 36-19 Clemson

Disappointing drive. First ball was just thrown up in the air to let Watkins get it, and their man was right with him.

Troy from 23 - Counter for 2...Robinson overthrows the deep cross/post right into Robert Smith's hands.

CU from their 42 - Backups are in. Power for 4, MB...IZ for a couple, MB...Stoudt throws a bit behind Humphries in the flat for 7 Nice catch....Power for Howard for 22..Power again for 5...Power/Counter for 2...Power for the TD. 43-19 Clemson.

Nice drive to finish, I'm not doing the last minute.

Animated Drive Chart


Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Summarizing Thoughts


Troys DL reads like this: 300lbs, 278 pounds, 255 pounds, and 237 pounds. McClain is 335, Smith pushes 300. Tell me why Antoine McClain was doing a Matador impression all day? Why couldn't any of them block a LB either? Mason Cloy did no better in the 2nd half, but I would've given him more than 8 snaps.

Troy ran a lot of stunting and weakside fire zone blitzes, and our guys did not do a good job picking it up. I think eventually Troy wore down in the 2nd half, lost a step, and it showed in their pass rush speed. I don't know that Wofford will be able to do these things to us, or Auburn because of their youth, but I guarantee you that Bud Foster sees this on tape. So will Mark Stoops and Everett Withers. Our blocking schemes are SIMPLER than in the past, and on the pass rush all you really do is count out from the Center, and we couldnt pick this up?

This has to be the #1 concern after this game. That contributed to the negative yardage plays that really hurt us in the first half. On five of the seven 3&outs, there was a negative play.

I was impressed with DJ Howard's running in his limited action. Andre looked a bit gassed in this game, and I think Howard can spell him. Someone needed to spell him as a runner. They did go with Hot Rod however, and I would bet serious cash that the reason is due to blocking. That will hold Bellamy back (5 snaps) more than anything in our opinion. He does not yet know the playbook either, because he doesnt yet understand where to line up, but blocking will keep him from getting more snaps. Gotta block when you mostly protect with just 5.

At WR, the blocking was improved. Blocking is all about effort (Antoine, you listening?) and they put up better effort. They arent great, but it was better. I did wonder where was Marquan Jones? Has he graduated from most invisible man on the field to most invisible man on the bench? Bryce McNeal? We heard so much of late and I never noticed him. The real question with WR blocking is whether they do it when the ball goes away from them, so we'll be watching for that.

Chad on Monday had a lot to say:

Q: You wanted to establish a physical identity. How would you assess that aspect of the first game?

Not close to where we want to be. We came out with the intent to rush the football, and I think we ran for 197 yards. Our goal is to rush for 200. I’d have probably been easier to deal with if we’d have run for 198 yards (on the QB Power at the goalline). The one thing that was promising, you did see at the point of attack on some occasions, we were physical up front. On other occasions, we weren’t. So there was a little inconsistency there.

I don’t want to say we got gassed or tired or drained. But at some points in time, we weren’t as physical as we should have been. We get about 14 reps a week against good-on-good competition (in practice). I didn’t think last week we were very physical during that 14-play time. I think we backed off, and it showed a little bit.

So I challenged them this morning. We’re going to get 14 good reps. We’re going to get something good out of seven minutes. It may be seven minutes of up-downs, but it’s going to be something good. But when we have to have a yard, we’re going to come get that yard.

Q: How did that first game compare to your first at Tulsa?

We had way too many mental errors from a quarterback standpoint all the way down. One thing I remember is we were sitting there in the second quarter, second-and-four, we run power for 2 yards, then next play, third-and-2, Tajh pulls the zone and throws the bubble off of it – and we don’t block the corner.

To be expected a little bit with a new coordinator and system first game. But we have to cut back.

Q: Where do you think Tajh is in this offense right now?

I thought he had a glazed over look, extended into outer space a little bit. He was reverting back to just backyard football instead of trusting his reads. That was a thing he and I talked about numerous times on the sidelines during the first half. ‘You have to coach your trusting and your reads.’ And he kept telling me all the right things.

I said, ‘We’re going to make it simple for you, but at some point, you have to execute.’ So I think a lot of it had to do with the fact it was his first big start. I don’t know if he had 64 snaps last year, but he got that much Saturday.

In the back of my mind, the way it started was the way I was picturing it. I told them Wednesday until we get into a live game, I don’t know how they’re going to respond. And for the first half, it was shaky in that regard. But nobody was panicking. We had to get into halftime to settle everybody down and fix it. The promising thing is what happened after that.

Q: That why you didn’t take as many shots down the field as desired?

Yeah, because we had too many three-and-outs. Anytime you have six three-and-outs, you’re taking away too many plays. We basically cost ourselves 18 or more snaps in a game. So we’re on track to get our 80 snaps. We just have to not have so many three-and-outs.

We couldn’t get over one bad play in a series, whatever it was. We’ll take our shots, but it just wasn’t as many as we wanted to take.

Q: Was the tempo what you intended?

No, absolutely not. Not even close. And that starts with our quarterback.

You saw him in the second half, when he picked his pace up and his tempo was going well, we were moving the football. We play well when tempo is going good. You’re having to remind everyone on the sidelines, now, don’t forget, you have to be looking at me on the sidelines. It was almost as if they were reverting back … As I was walking off, everyone was telling me 468 yards of offense, 43 points … and I was ticked off. I thought we could have had more against a good Troy team. I’m hearing it’s the best opener and all this, but I don’t care.

This is our standard. We’re going to play fast and play physical. And I have to remind myself where this offense has been the last few years, not being know for their explosive plays. It’s going to take a little time. I have to remind myself it didn’t get this way overnight, and it’s not going to get fixed overnight. But we did make huge strides in the second half.

Who was accountable for the first-half troubles with the blitzes off the edge?

It’s a combination of a couple of things. We did miss a couple of hots where (Boyd) should have got the ball out. The other part was, from an offensive line standpoint, we should have outted a few of those and picked them up. It was nothing more than a linebacker walking up and coming off the edge.

They were moving somebody every play, and we knew they were going to do that. Showed them that for a month. But until you actually get out in a game mode, then you find out a lot about them. You can simulate that, but it’s not the same.

In the 2nd half, the adjustment was just to go back to what worked. Screens, a little less IZ, and a few more Power O and counter plays were run to get in a rhythm. All the other passes were higher percentage calls.


Tackling, Tackling, Tackling. Open field tackling needs work. Gap control needs some work, but was mostly good. Interior push needs serious work. Brandon can't be doubled all damn day, somebody has to help him. Rennie Moore MUST do better at the 3.

There was no huge adjustment at the half. It was still a mix of 4-2-5 and 3-3-5 sets, and we blitzed out of the 3-3-5. We did get into our base defensive front a little more, but the coverages didnt appear to change.

Grady Jarrett shows some flashes. I think his pad level was good and his motor was on, two very important things for a DT. I said when he committed that his rating was too low, and mostly due to his height (maybe 6') and bodyfat. If he gets his body reshaped, he's going to be just fine long-term.

Where was Justin Parker? He worked at Mac LB this August behind Hawk, but Anthony got the reps (22). I noted above that he appeared to hurt himself but I have heard nothing since from our writers.

The safeties did not play great. Two big plays could've been prevented totally if they'd been going for contact. Sometimes they were nowhere close to where they needed to be. I know Meeks got sat down at one point for it. Robert Smith may end up as a good backup for him this year, and likely will be playing some FS soon. Since we'll be in mostly Cover 4 against Wofford's WingBone offense, the spot wouldnt be a big difference for Smith this week.

Hall's injury is really troubling, because I dont think Lewis can do the job as anything more than a spot/role player. Peters is young, Breeland is young, and Desmond Brown is not ready either. I'm a bit scared here. We have to have a good FS to go Robber.

CBs will get burned this year, but they'll get better. They need reps. If Breeland moves to FS more, Robinson must step up. We may have to burn Cortez Davis' redshirt too if its bad for Hall's knee. I did expect a better game from Brewer.

The only thing that gave us any consistent trouble was the patterns with the RB on a swing route outside. They were sending 1 or 2 guys deep/inside, and sending the back outside to the flats. This strains the coverage both vertically and horizontally. The responsibility depends on the coverage in general (e.g. the CB in 2 zone) but in M2M its almost always the LB's job to pick up. Stephone Anthony did really well on the wheel route where the guy pulled him down, most guys wouldnt be anywhere close to the back that far down the field.

We'll know how the gap control and tackling have improved vs Wofford.