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Game Film Review: South Carolina

Chad Morris calls his worst game ever at Clemson, and Brent Venables can't teach his defense how to tackle well enough to get themselves off the field.

Streeter Lecka

ESPN play-by-play

CU from 25 - Bootleg, too tall for Sammy...IZ for 2-3..Stares down Jaron over the middle, tipped away incomplete. Punt.

SC is showing 2 high, nothing exotic. Expect them to stick with that and roll one down into Cover 1 Robber.

SC from CU 44 - Pitch, loss of a few thanks to Brewer...Over the middle to an open Cunningham, too much time to throw that, incomplete drop...Thompson steps up past Goodman's rush, Ellington makes a great catch falling forward on his knees for 19 on 3rd down...IZ for 1...Thompson jogs away from shitty pass rush, throws it away. Illegal formation declined...CB blitz, Sack by Josh Watson. Punt.

Blanks has to come full speed to the RB on the blitz, not stutter and stop.

Clemson showing the usual C3 and C1 combination.

CU from 15 - ZR/IZ for 10 off Clowney, but FB clipped him...Wildcat, iV for 5...Dumpout to Ford for 4...QB power for 3...Boyd drops back, then Timothy gets his ass beat, and he scrambles right into Clowney's arms for a sack...Thrown too tall for Nuk...AH over the middle for 22...Wildcat, Power for 4...ZR/IZ for 1...Called QB draw for 5...Half-roll right into Taylor's arms. Escapes a 2nd sack and hits Sammy coming back across for 14...ZR/IZ for 8..IZ for 7...IZ for 5...Power, no gain. No movement by Shatley/Freeman...Speed option sweep keeper for the TD. 7-0 Clemson. 16 plays 85 yards, 06:14

Look at that drive and note the running plays and the success, and tell me why you wouldn't just pound the damn ball on SC all day?

SC is even loading up some inside, albeit with a 2 -high look that rolls down, and we're still doing it.

Why is Clemson running "Check with Me" calls?

SC from 37 - WR screen for 9...False start...IZ, Willard made a great play, jumped the A-gap and no gain...Cunningham catches 5 yard toss and gets 19. No inside LB there over the middle...Blitz, and Ace Sanders sits wide open on the sideline for 15 with Peters standing way off...IZ, breaks 3 tackles for 11. Xavier Brewer missed the first one...Blitz, IZ and stuffed for 1 yard gain by Willard...TO SC because they can't get the play in on time. Steve called this one...Ellington catches a fade falling down for the TD. Now that one is just a good play, but Peters let him get that separation. 7-7. 7 plays 63 yards 3:41.

No one single problem, just the same ones we've labored with all year. Can't tackle, can't tighten up the coverage, and sometimes no one is anywhere near where they're supposed to be.

Blitzing and getting nothing much pressurewise out of it.

CU from 25 - Speed Toss, Hot Rod outruns Clowney for 32 yards. Clowney was (intentionally) unblocked...Boyd throws into double coverage to Nuk for a 43 yard TD. Great throw. Safety should've been all over that. 14-7 Clemson.2 plays 75 yards, 00:24

SC from 25 - IZ, Shuey bit late, gets 7...IZ for 1. Shuey was on that one...IZ for 1, and knocked backwards on 3rd & 2. Personal foul called after the play on SC. Start 2nd QTR. Punt. 3 plays -6 yards 1:29.

CU from 41 - Wildcat, Power for 3...Clowney comes free as they Double A blitz, Tajh throws away...Empty, Tajh throws over the middle and Legree jumps the route and intercepts the pass. He gets called for PI. I don't think its the right call...IZ for 2...They run a T-E stunt as we call a power pass, one guy comes free inside, Tajh steps up and gets sacked by Clowney who is on the down blocker covering for Beasley...QB Power, Boyd tracked down from behind for 2. Punt. 5 plays 16 yards 2:16.

When you face a DE like Clowney, you can't stick with the normal blocking rules. We slide down when they blitz inside on the 2nd play, which is the normal thing. However, you can't let the QB be the one to account for the outside man when its Clowney. You have to have the back chip him or something.

Running this "Check with me" offense really kills us.

SC from 9 - OZ, no gain. Willard did another nice job...Sanders sits on the sideline completely by himself and goes 36 after a bad angle for first tackler, Rashard Hall. No one there in the flat on the best receiver...Blitz, Garry Peters had a ball hit him in the chest and couldn't intercept it. Thrown short and to the inside...Corey Crawford kicks the LT's ass for a sack. LT hinged too early... TO CU....Vic Beasley got a solid shot on Thompson and missed as he throws incomplete. Should've put his helmet under Thompson's chin. Punt. 5 plays 25 yards, 2:10.

Good pressure, particularly against the LT #53.

But tell me how it is the best WR on the other team is left sitting open like that on the boundary.

You have to intercept that pass in games like this, Peters.

CU from 38 - QB Power/Counter for 4...ZR/IZ, AE jukes past Clowney for 13...Boyd has time to throw, steps up into a sack by Jerideau. He had people underneath and he was looking deep-only...Pass tipped by Taylor to Cooper in the flat...Boyd had Nuk, Hopkins hadn't turned around quickly enough to see it in time to adjust. Boyd released it a shade early. Punt.5 plays 13 yards, 01:33

Sack took us out of doing anything, and the sack really wasn't on the OL there. Boyd had time to take a checkdown, and wanted to run it/scramble and got sacked.

Not hard to rack up sacks when the QB runs right into them.

SC from 12 - Ellington for 13 in the flat, first tackle that was not made would've been short of the sticks...WR screen for 7..Fleaflicker, Thompson runs out short of sticks. Deep coverage was good...ZR and Thompson goes untouched for 19. That is the DE's fault to hold an edge (Crawford), but there should be a LB coming behind. Not really a read option, as Crawford was blocked, more like a fake IZ with QB following a lead FB...Cunningham slant for 7...Willard nice play on an IZ, loss of 1...Thompson steps up and hits Miles in the flat for 7...Sanders wide open on the far side, Out route, throw from the far hash to the sideline, and gets 17. He should never be that far open (Meeks of course)...Thompson nearly trucks Brewer and gets 2. Brewer needs to learn how to tackle better than this shit, thats how you get your ass run over at CB...Blitz, Beasley misses an easy sack, Thompson gets 4...Back foot throw incomplete to Sanders. He was open. Blanks should never let him get behind. 27 Yd FG good. 14-10 Clemson. 12 plays 79 yards, 6:14.

3rd &1 - he runs for 19

3rd & 4 - Hits Miles underneath the coverage for 7 on the sideline

But 3rd down defense is a product of 1st down defense much of the time, and on 2 1st downs they got 7 yards.

Just a pisspoor defensive performance here.

CU from 25 - Slant to Jaron for 16...Sammy can't pull in a slant, little low throw...Ford quick out/shoot route for 9...QB Power for 3...Boyd feels pressure and throws it without putting anything into it, right at Holloman at the 24. 5 plays 28 yards, 1:08.

Pace was good, not sure why we're throwing so much with 2:40 on the clock when we run hurry up, but SC made the pick on the floater and we did not.

SC from 24 - Delay handoff gets 5...Thrown low incomplete...Pass batted away at the sticks by Blanks to Sanders. Punt. 3 plays 5 yards, 00:38

Good defense there.

CU from 28 - Stop route to Sammy for 9...IZ/ZR for 4...Clocked play, AND we got a false start called. WHY THE FUCK DID WE SPIKE THIS BALL DABO? THE WHOLE OFFENSE IS HURRY-UP, CALL A DAMN PLAY. Clock had already stopped for the 1st down. 10 SECONDS get run off as a result of an offensive penalty. Hitch to Jaron for 14, TO CU with 0:04..Pressure forces the last throw away.

Just shit coaching and clock management.


Thompson - 11/18, 164, 1 TD

Boyd - 8/17, 132, 1 TD + 1 rushing, 1 INT.

Clemson had 106 yards rushing in the first half, what do you think we should be doing to start the 2nd?

SC had 24 yards rushing and 164 passing on 12/19, mostly dinking and dunking.

Start 3rd QTR

SC from 15 - Blitz, dumpoff to Ellington for 8 underneath the coverage...IZ for 7 right past Shuey...Blitz, dumpoff in the flat too low, incomplete...Nick Jones completed Post for 31 in front of 3 defenders. Beat Peters to the inside, and the safety should've eaten it up...IZ no gain...Willard bats away a checkdown to Gilchrist...Offsides on Goodman...Stop route hit in front of Peters for 6...Checkdown to the RB incomplete, thanks to Shuey...Zone blitz, Brewer bats away a corner/out route. He could've intercepted this. Holding called...3 man rush, Thompson eludes it and gets 4 yards...3 man rush, Ace Sanders over the middle on a Post route, beats Blanks(?) inside, breaks a bad angle tackle, and 2 other guys another 10 yards for a TD. 17-14 SC. 10 plays 85 yards 3:12.

They dinked and dunked with checkdowns all over the field, and on two big plays our shitty safeties are exposed. A 31 yard completion that should not be made right in front of the 2nd team All-ACC safety TWICE.

CU from 25 -IZ, 1 yard...Devin Taylor bullrushes Timothy into Boyd, Clowney pulls him down as he stumbles. Boyd has to move there, cannot stand there...Boyd pressured immediately, scrambles for 10. Punt.

That sack is again on Tajh. You can't hold onto the ball that long, both DEs just bullrushed, and he could've stepped up or checked that down. Had all his eyes downfield.

SC from 32 - WR screen for 4. Meeks gets a face mask called, grabbed the back/side of his helmet...Blitz, Cunningham runs a 9 and ball is right on the money, he just didnt catch it...Pressure and Thompson throws away...Blitz, swing route to Miles all alone in the flats for 24. Linebacker has a blitz key, somebody didn't read the key. You don't blitz when the man comes out like that...Miles IZ right through 3 guys' arms up the A-gap for 8...Holding called on LT, Beasley beat him and he grabbed...Blitz, Thompson makes Hall miss and runs up the middle for 11. Thats pathetic, 2 guys could've sacked him and both were no where close...IZ, but Brandon Shell held backside of Jarrett...Deep route thrown too deep to Jones incomplete. 43 yd FG good. 20-14 SC. 8 plays 42 yards 3:08.

Just terrible 3rd down defensive coverage. Its 3rd & 10, we sell out on a blitz, and nobody picked up the back.

CU from 25 -Rollout, thrown deep and great catch by Jaron Brown for 38 yards. Why aren't we rolling the pocket away from Clowney more?...ZR/IZ, AE zips past Clowney for 12...IZ for 1..ZR Option pass to Nuk, thrown too wide in the flat...Tajh steps back and hits his checkdown to Sammy for 5, barely completed. Catman 37 yd FG. 20-17 SC. 6 plays 56 yards, 1:49

So you see we're still able to take advantage of Clowney's aggression outside, he's going for Tajh on the ZR every time and AE just zooms past him, but we don't keep running it. The next IZ play was not a ZR.

SC from 27 - Half-roll, pass to Ace Sanders incomplete, too far ahead of him...Watson has Thompson in his arms, and he gets rid of it. Vic Beasley called offsides...Checkdown to Miles, Shuey misses a tackle and he gets 8...IZ for 3..Stop route to Ace for 8...Bucksweep, Grady Jarrett misses first TFL but he's caught for 1 yard gain...Rollout, incomplete to Sanders...3rd & 9, swing route to Davis at the LOS, Peters misses the first tackle and he gets the 1st down...Christian comes completely free on the blitz, completely whiffs on a sack, Thompson throws one to Brewer and he can't catch it. Sorry as hell....Checkdown incomplete to Moore...Zone Blitz, Thompson cant evade. Goodman gets him...Blitz, Hall bats it away and is called for PI. BULLSHIT...Sweep for 4...Toss out on a OZ/sweep for loss of 3. Jarrett, Brewer both did well...Start 4th QTR...Blitz, batted in the air by Meeks, and he gets flagged for PI. Another bullshit PI call, and this one even worse than the one on Hall. The ball was thrown to Meeks' inside shoulder, the WR was on his outside...IZ, Davis slips...Blitz, Brewer sack, loss of 8...Zone blitz with Quarters, Thompson throws to the back of the endzone a little short, Brewer intercepts for a touchback. 15 plays 50 yards, 6:44.

If I was Swinney they'd have thrown me out of the game after these PI calls. Meeks' call was awful, Hall was making a play on the ball and both were looking at the ball.

Look at the mentions of missed tackles. These guys just can't finish anything and cannot tackle. If you can't tackle, you can't play defense.

Its not that SC is gashing them, our defenders don't make the plays they should be perfectly capable of making to get off the field. If we make the first tackle on the swing route to Davis, we keep them from running off ~4 minutes of clock time.

CU from 20 -Rollout right into a pass rush, Boyd escapes for 6...Sweep option, AE gets 9. Swearinger flagged for unsportsmanlike...Pass rusher comes free on right side, Boyd can't hit Nuk on a slant...QB power read/IV for 3...TO SC...Boyd throws it right at Brison Williams. He never saw him playing Robber. Clowney gets helmet-first hit on Boyd, no call. Returned to the SC 35. 5 plays 33 yards 1:27

Had the chance there, blew it. Chad wanted some passing plays and quick scores, when he should've stuck with the run.

SC from 35 - ZR/IZ, Davis goes 26. No 2nd level...ZR, Thompson takes it himself for 9. Crawford took the back, as he really should've but Hall was not there coming around on the gap exchange, nor was anyone else...IZ, gains 3...ZR option to a WR screen for 5...IZ for 2...TO SC. They couldnt get the play in...Run blitz, gain of 2 on 3rd & 3...4th & 1. QB sneak for 1...CB Blitz, WR screen for 3...Subst. Foul called...Thompson evades a blitz, goes for TD, holding called. LG hugged Jarrett...TO SC, again not getting the play in..Lateral to Sanders, looks to throw, pulls it down and runs for 3 to the opposite side. Good coverage deep to prevent the double pass... 3rd & 19, Blitz, Thompson goes up the middle for 20 yards. Everyone playing M2M with the LB blitzing, and no one looked at the QB. Was a called Draw. Pathetic...IZ, Davis gets flattened by Willard...Bootleg/roll, Thompson pressured and gets 1. Shuey cut blocked and got up and made the tackle...Ellington open at the post in front of 2 defenders for a TD. 27-17 SC. 13 plays 65 yards, 7:39.

Same thing again, the plays are there to be made, the defense cannot make them.

They've run off 14 minutes in 2 drives just because the defense doesn't make the play to get off the field. They just catch us when we don't have someone where he's supposed to be.

Clemson defensive line is getting jack shit on the pass rush.

CU from 25 with 4:17 -Clowney speed rushes Thomas for a sack. Thomas hinged...Same thing again, Boyd scrambles for 3 outside...Nuk right over the middle, ball hit his hands 5-10 past the sticks on 3rd & 16, and he dropped it. Punt.

The drop is all on Nuk Hopkins. A little high but definitely catchable ball. You have to make that play here.

SC from 37 with 2:59 - IZ for 1...TO CU...bucksweep for 5..ZR/IZ, Miles goes for 7 right up the middle...IZ, Blanks nice play no gain..TO CU...Wildcat, Ellington OZ for 3...Wildcat, OZ for 2...Delay of Game intentionally taken on 4th down. Punt. 6 plays 13 yards 2:36.

Can't get off the field on 3rd downs.

CU from 25 - Stop route to Sammy for 9. OL may as well have not even tried to block anyone...Boyd called draw for 14...Boyd steps out of the pocket and Clowney pulls him down for a sack.

End of game.


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Summarizing Thoughts

Well, I know a lot of folks are really putting this loss on one side of the ball or the other, or one coach. The truth is that this was a complete team fuck up. They all screwed this game up from beginning to end.


First off, I'd like to thank Tig Willard for playing his ass off. He showed up ready to play and hit somebody and it showed from start to finish. He definitely gets player of the game.

Xavier Brewer showed again why we were harping on him being a Cornerback FULL TIME and not a safety or slot man or whatever the hell both Venables and Steele were trying to get him to be. He's a 3-star and plays like one, but he's a hell of a lot better here than at Safety.

Otherwise the problems we had all year are the same ones showing up in this game, with the exception of 3rd down defense. Clemson allowed 11 of 21 conversions, after holding to just over 30% all year. Keep in mind we played one of the softest offensive schedules, but we've been solid on 3rd downs this season, and we lost the games where we were not. Obviously it is not all concentration and focus that we lost on 3rd down; we were giving up too many yards on 1st and 2nd down and it was due to Spurrier's gameplan.

I don't think he wanted Thompson to really sling that ball around. He told him the checkdowns would be there against our soft C3 Koenning-style zone, and they were. SC hit 5 yard checkdowns all day long and when we showed again how poorly we tackle, they got the 1st downs they needed to get.

Now they didn't push around our DL that badly, as we allowed just 3.0 ypc. What they did do was show how shitty our pass rush technique has been all year. Vic Beasley is the only pass rusher on the front, the rest are tough players but aren't true pass rushers. They don't have swim moves or push-pull or anything. They bull rush inside and SC stopped that because they were stronger. The only SC OL who I'd say played a bad game was the Left Tackle 53, because he had to hold to keep Beasley from zooming past him several times.

I'm stumped however on how someone like Rashard Hall or Meeks gets any All-ACC or even honorable mention. I could pull someone out of the stands and show them how to NOT play the deep safety spots and they'd do about as well as these two idiots. I can't believe they've regressed as much as they have. If you have the deep coverage in C1, you don't let them hit the wide open receiver right in front of you, get down and bat it away. Make the official call PI (which they did obviously, when Hall finally did make a damn play) but don't let them hit 30 yard passes right at you.

Clemson's defense had ample opportunity to give the offense the ball in the 2nd half and didn't do a damn thing to stop SC. Nothing they were doing was ripping us up, we just can't make the INTs, sacks and TFL that they try to giftwrap.


Worst called game of the year. Go count how many WR screens, our bread and butter pass play, were called. Count how many times we beat Clowney on a simple Zone Read handoff to AE, and ask yourself "Why the hell didn't we call that every other play he was in the game?"

If you cannot block a guy, you option him. Its the oldest rule in the book. Clemson optioned off him, and beat him with it, but never called enough of them. We rarely ran right at him, which I still believe will work with a combo block.

I looked for chips and double-teams on Clowney, there weren't many at all. When he was in, he basically faced off against Thomas, who did OK. Its hard for Thomas to get the blame from me as much because Boyd walked into several sacks, but you have to account for the best player on the defense and neutralize his speed somehow. Why, when we did it to Lemonier and some against FSU, were we not cutting him out? Why was Cooper or D. Smith not left in on Clowney's side of the field to block? I don't understand the scheming.

Perhaps they thought if we went so fast they could tire he and Taylor out? Well then why were we going with so many check sideline calls? Our pace was pure garbage as a result.

The offense had 106 yards rushing in the 1st half and finished with 145 on 4.1 ypc. Why did we not run the ball more than 35 times? I saw it on the 2nd drive, we were getting yards, and when you can run the ball on a good defense you should be sticking with it. We have 3 backs, go HUNH if you want, but keep running it.

Why does AE only have 2 games over 100 yards since Auburn? He had 15 for 72, a 4.8 ypc average. He should've had the ball 25-30 times. If he gets dinged up and has to sit a few weeks to heal, WHO CARES ITS THE LAST GAME?

I just don't know what to point to for this game. When we've run the ball well, run Tajh well, and gotten him to hit a few easy throws, he takes off. We didn't stick with the run, and never called the easy throws that I could see. He looked for a HR every other play, and never took the checkdowns that Thompson took. He is not NFL ready if he refuses to take what they give us all day.

But the bottom line is, we did not win the LOS, and so we did not win the game. If you want to beat good teams, you have to win the LOS, whether its a bad game plan or not.