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Game Film Review: Ball State

Sep 8, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers players run onto the field prior to the start of the game against the Ball State Cardinals at Memorial Stadium. Clemson won 52-27. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE
Sep 8, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers players run onto the field prior to the start of the game against the Ball State Cardinals at Memorial Stadium. Clemson won 52-27. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

In this game review, we don't need to do play-by-play in the 2nd half at all, and will only focus on defense. 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. I do miss a few playcalls here and there and may mislabel an IZ this time when it is actually an OZ, especially with what Ball State was doing. 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

CU from 28 - Peake on a bubble for 12...Bubble to Humphries on the other side...Throws one up to Nuk on a deep post, too tall...ZR/IZ for 5. They had a CB blitz coming right into it and AE made him miss...Direct snap to AE, goes over his head but he catches it and gets a few...Bubble to Peake, Jaron can be more physical on the block...Ford runs an Out for another 1st...Counter for 3...Screen to Humphries...IZ for 4-5..Zone read, boyd should've kept it...IZ right up the gut for the score. Freeman pinned back the DT well. 6-0 Clemson. 12 plays 72 yards


Just WR screens left and right, because they were cheating a little.

BS from 25 - IZ for short gain...Pass batted down by Watson.Nice play...false start...Comeback route just short of the 1st down. Punt.

CU from 26 - IZ for 2-3..WR screen to Peake for 11. NICE BLOCK BY FORD...Jet sweep to Humphries for 3-4...PA pass off that Jet to Nuk on a Post...Bryant reverse for 17 off a ZR..Counter for 1...IZ cut behind Brandon Thomas for 11, Thomas really mauled the DT. Beasley went out on this play...Power O for the TD. 13-0 Clemson. 8 plays 74 yards, 02:53

Perimeter blocking by the WRs could be more physical but its not bad.

BS from 15 - Thanks Raycom for losing the drive completely.

CU from 26 - Empty set, baubled the snap on a WR screen and carried it for 4...Hot Rod, Counter Trey for 3...Nuk stop route for 7...Jaron Brown on a Dig under the coverage for 11...Boyd misses a covered Bryant. Needed to throw that one further to the boundary and also deeper...Scrambles and hits Peake, but called back on another illegal shift...Bucksweep, backside LB runs him down from behind...Humphries open on a flag route, but Boyd couldnt hit it there behind the CB. Thrown too wide and doesnt look like AH was ready for it. Punt. 7 plays 20 yards

BS from 8 - Slot WR on a quick slant for 14, right over Anthony's shoulder. If he had been reading the QB's eyes, this is a Pick 6...CB Blitz (Blanks) arrives at the handoff mesh, but QB keeps for 3...Breeland flagged for PI on a basic fly route up the sideline. Ball was underthrown and they got the PI when BB threw a hand in...Robinson kills a WR on a stop route...IZ for 54 yd TD. 13-7 Clemson. 4 plays 92 yards 1:22.


SA went much too far with the backfield action at first, but ended up in a completely wrong gap.

First thing to look at is which gap is SA responsible for. He has already shuffled a step to the frontside. It looks like we're playing a G front, 2i and 3 technique DTs. He was lined up in a 40 initially, behind a 3-tech. It appears to me that SA has A-gap responsibilities when the ball goes away. You can see the Safety fitting backside outside.

His job is to fill that A-gap.

The offensive tackle is free, the DE is with a TE. The OT is pushing his teammate down on the DT to the frontside. Anthony is reading the backfield motion and not jumping up into his gap to fill it and force whomever takes the ball outside to the DE or the Safety.

Below, the safety is frozen, on his heels. He shouldn't be sitting there. He's already thinking "oh shit". You can see SA waited, and now the OT has a free shot on him. The DT got washed down. The DE could actually make a play here.

Now the RB just follows the OT, and SA is in bad position to take on the blocker. He's on his heels too. The Safety sees the RB with the ball and is now up too far and outside of the lane. He has no shot. Also notice the DT who should've been in the area got washed into the other.

Brewer just kinda stood there until the guy had momentum towards him, and took a bad angle to end it.

This was more than one guy screwing up.

CU from 32 - IZ for 3...Stop route to Nuk for 9...Raycom still sucks...Humphries on a bubble for 5..End 1st QTR...Swing route to DJ Howard for 33. The Fly and Post routes outside cleared the whole flats and the deep safety for him...Howard Power for 2...IV keep for for no gain....Nuk in the endzone on a stop route. 21-7 Clemson. 8 plays 68 yards, 02:45

Not even like they are a mile off Nuk, these are all quick hitters and he just goes and gets it.

Clemson went for 2 and ran a Power O for the conversion.

BS from 25 - BS is shifting and it looks like we can't adjust to the new formation quickly enough. They got Delay anyway...Shuey right where he should be on a quick slant...Raycom sucks...Incidental contact and an underthrown ball over Breeland in M2M coverage... IZ right up the middle, Stephone has him and cant complete the tackle, he gets 7...ZR/IZ, SA is right there...Blitz called, Meeks manhandles the WR on another really badly underthrown ball, PI called...ZR/IZ for 1...IZ for no gain. Willard made a nice play...Gut X blitz called, sack by DeShawn Williams. 45 yd FG is good. 21-10 Clemson. 11 plays 47 yards, 04:17

Both of these PI calls aren't really problems from our guys, though you need to know where the ball is. Their QB is meaning to throw over our head, the DB is in M2M coverage and watching the WR, and he underthrew both balls such that the WR had to stop and turn to get the ball. The DB is in the way. Meeks threw an arm into the guy just like Breeland did.

Shuey is getting several snaps in Nickel sets.

Onside kick, BS botches it and Clemson recovers. Can't blame the coach for trying it.

CU at BS 33 - PA pass deep to Brown, incomplete. Coverage was good on him, but thrown off-target...Jet sweep for 1. Peake. Nuk Hopkins for 34 on a Post/Slant, FS came up and knocked the legs out from his own man trying to tackle. Terrible angle. 28-10 Clemson. 3 plays 33 yds :44.

BS at 25 - Bucksweep for 8. Crawford got reached by the TE, but kept himself outside, didnt get off the blocker when he cut back inside. Both LBs charged up, but SA was out of position. He came up and the OG was free and blocked him. Needed to be outside that Guard...Iso for no gain. Nice job by SA and Jarrett... Stephone Anthony picks off the same slant they tried earlier. Turnover.

Exactly the same play they got 14 on earlier, SA read his eyes.

CU from BS 39 - IZ no gain...Ford in the flats for 3...They blitz, Boyd takes to the sidelines for 8. Pickup had an issue again in the B-gap...Screen to Ford for 7, mostly him and not the blockers. He tried to turn around and got nothing extra...IZ for 4...Nuk on a Post for 15 yd TD. 35-10 Clemson. 6 plays 39 yards, 01:58

BS from 25 - Quick hitch for 4...ZR/IZ for 8, Tavaris Barnes crashed hard, Willard went way outside, and the RB went between them for 8. SA came up and got caught up in the middle by the down blocker..Pass to sideline incomplete...Clemson sends another Gut X, and Darius Robinson just jumps the slant for the INT.

CU at BS 36 - Stoudt is in at QB. IZ for 1. Hot Rod...ZR bubble screen to Jaron for 10...Martavis Bryant plays pattycake with a CB and this allows them to stop a bubble for a 2 yard loss. He kinda tiptoed towards the CB, and the CB did his job and went full speed. If you want to block somebody, get up there and deliver the hit...Counter for 27 yd TD. 42-10 Clemson. 4 plays 36 yards. 1:17.

Love that block by the TE. If you notice, they had a blitz called.

BS from 25 - IZ for 4...Bucksweep for 2. Crawford did a nice job...Joker front, they hit a quick slant for 3. Punt.

Couple different fronts showcased on that drive by the defense. 3-4 alignment.

CU from 18 - PI called as they jumped a slant...IZ for 3...Adam Humphries gets behind the coverage on a Post for 27...Bubble screen to Jaron for 5, better block by Bryant...Pass goes right through Peake's hands...Stoudt tries a prayer to Brown, way overthrown incomplete.

Spencer Benton hits a 61 yard FG. Looks like he had maybe 2 yards extra.

Dabo and BV were arguing bigtime before the kick, BV did not want to defend a play here with BS in good field position should we miss it.


55 plays in the first half, and nothing really to say about the offensive output other than I expected better in the running game. I thought before that they were doing alot to take away the run, but they really arent. They are playing games and stunting, but its a 3-3 stack and we can't seem to get things moving consistently on the ground. I think playcalling has something to do with it.

Aside from the PI calls and the single long run, the defense seems to be doing just fine to me. We've forced a bunch of 3 & outs, and their QB sucks.

In the 2nd half, I see no reason to continue reviewing the offense. Its all garbage time for them.

Start 3rd QTR

BS from 25 - Stop route for 9, soft coverage...IZ for 2, but Goodman offsides...3-4 front, QB throws it away because we had everything covered...IZ for 4...quick slant for 4...4th & 1, QB Sneak for the 1st down. They quick snapped it. We were not ready...IZ, backside DE was on it for short gain. Nice stepdown...Watson hits QB as he threw. Nice hand usage for Josh...Joker front,...ZR/IZ, takes it right up the B-gap for 28 because Vic Beasley/Williams stunted themselves out of the hole. Both were doing what they should initially on the T-E stunt, but not reading the backfield. If we don't stunt this play might get stopped. Anthony's angle is not quite right...IZ cut back 21 yards for the TD. Backside LB Stephone Anthony was not there. He charged up inside, the RB just cut it back behind him and no one was there. Meeks was supposed to help fill back, took the wrong angle. 9 plays 75 yards, 3:14. 45-17 Clemson

Just bad gap discipline. We have given up two TDs in Nickel sets because the backside LB was not home, and the safety who is supposed to fill back was nowhere close.

CU from 9 - Pass happy with Cole Stoudt here. 6 passes and 2 rushes, but one was a bubble.

BS from 18 - Forced a scramble but should've had a sack on the first play. He dumped it off and Willard got blocked in the flats. Went for 12...ZR/IZ for 14. Tavaris Barnes widened, Williams is out of the gap, but Barnes had him and could not finish the tackle. Looked like he was trying to strip it out instead. Christian got him down...Sideline pass incomplete, Breeland was all over the guy..Stretch handoff, we strung it all the way out. Shuey did a good job here. Lost 1...Travis Blanks killed the WR in the flats on what looked like a botched bubble. Punt. 5 plays 25 yards.

CU at the 3 - 3 run plays and a punt. Howard hurt his shoulder on the 2nd IZ.

BS from 41 - Hitch for 7, we're playing a soft C3...ZR handoff for 16. We even had both LBs (Wright and SA) shifted to the fieldside.

Notice below the alignment, from L-R, the DL is in a Ghost (9) - 3 - 2i - 6 technique. SA is in a 20 weak and Wright is 40. SA has the weak A, 50 has the strong A. Wright has the B and the DE has the C. Well the DE stunts inside to the B on the snap and Wright should go outside.

Now the mesh happens, SA is about where he should be. Wright is reading his key. The DE Beasley is now pinned inside, this shouldn't happen.

The ballcarrier goes wide, SA is fine, Wright is not. Beasley is not either. The DE cut inside and Wright is not upfield enough, and gets himself blocked out.

SA is stuck up in the glut and needed to scrape another step or two.

Comeback down the boundary for 8...ZR for 8. Anthony zoomed up for some reason and was nowhere near where he should be, he just thought it was another outside zone handoff, came up, and the RB waited til he had only the DE to beat....Bootleg throw for 5, Goodman did his job....ZR, we're all over this one. Meeks blitzed into it....Blitz by SA comes free, he throws it away. FG. 45-20 Clemson. 8 plays 43 yards.

194 yards rushing for Ball State through 3 quarters.

CU from 19 - Hot Rod ran the ball well here to start the drive, nice blocks too. OL did a good job outside on a WR screen. Bryant had a 15 yard completion hit his hands and dropped it. Stoudt threw into double coverage to Peake. Drive ended with a 22 yard pass to Bryant on a Post, just over the underneath coverage. Good sharp throw. 52-20 Clemson. 11 plays 81 yards, 02:54

4th QTR started during the drive, which was pretty good for the backups.

BS from 25 - Iso no gain...IZ no gain...incomplete throw to empty space..IZ, Shuey jumped into the right gap but the RB got past him. Gain of 8. Wright wasn't there to help quickly...IZ no gain. Punt.

Well that was better overall but you couldnt say things were fixed. Mostly 2nd team guys.

CU from 4 - Morgan Roberts in at QB. 3rd stringers mostly.

BS from 44 - IZ, short gain...Zone stretch for 12, Goodson was hung up but had a chance...Slant/Post for 16, matched on Stewart...IZ, 4 yard gain, Wright couldnt get him down...Blitz, thrown away...IZ for 10. Looked like Goodson charged into the wrong gap...Zone for 4...Stretch for 6, just getting reached outside...IZ, right over Shuey for the 2yd TD, but he was where he should've been. 52-27 Clemson. 9 plays 56 yards, 03:42

Both teams had another possession in the last 3 minutes, but nothing of note occured.


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Summarizing Thoughts

Defense is about team play. Everyone has a job to do. Everyone has a gap to cover. If one or two guys mess up on a play, that is all it takes for you to have a bad day.

LB play is certainly more aggressive than under Steele. They are charging into gaps more often. They were, last season, mostly standing around and waiting for balls and blockers to come to them.

Our run defense shows the same issues that I saw last week. Some DL are getting washed out of their gaps. Contrary to popular belief, this is not all on the linebackers. If a DE slices inside and doesnt stay with his gap inside, he's at fault. DTs are doing some read techniques, and its hurting the pressure in the backfield.

Linebackers are following backfield action and overpursuing the play over their gap, or hesitate to fit the gap assigned. He has to fit over his gap, and isn't doing it. The inside zone from a shotgun set is bringing the RB across the ball: if he lines up on the right, its meant to get out on the left. He's starting left on a stretch zone and cutting it back because theres a huge opening there. The RB today got his yards on cutbacks, as did Auburn last week. The difference was that Auburn ran more to the frontside with their zone isolation and just beat us back with good reach blocks. This week was mostly on cutbacks. The DT is getting pinned by the down block of the backside OT and a LB needs to be there, and to avoid a veer.

When the ball goes to one side, the frontside LB can come up into his gap. The backside LB has to be disciplined and read the RB's movement. He cannot cross the RB's face. Also, if he sees the flow away, he has to scrape over any glut of linemen.

When we are in Nickel sets, with a 4-2 front, the LBs are more aggressive than before, and are jumping the RB key. However they overpursue the stretch. When you play a 4-2 front, the Safeties have a backside fill. In other words, when the LBs go left with the ballcarrier, a Safety needs to come up and be there on the cutback to the backside. This one aspect is not good right now. If the RB cuts past the backside LB, the safety has to be johnny on the spot. Unfortunately he's not close, or takes a terrible angle. At that point the RB is just trying to make guys miss. He's going to get 15-20 yards if he gets free.

I do think we did better at avoiding reach blocks, but we're still being pinned off by offensive linemen up front. If the defensive linemen get mashed together and can't stay in a gap, the linebackers aren't going to be able to see where the ball is going. We don't read the trap movement. We don't get off the blocker. We are not sound on the defensive line, especially DT.

So we have some major work to do in run fits and angles still, but don't think this is just LB play. Its not. Ball State should not break 100 rushing on us. At least we do tend to bring the guy down with the first hit this year.

Their QB sucked so hard that he couldn't test our DBs much, but I remain worried about the secondary. First steps are not always right. Pass rush is nonexistent unless we blitz.

I think Travis Blanks has earned a right to play more, and Xavier Brewer should just move back to Corner. Actually Shuey has earned the right to play a bit more, even though he is too slow for every down duty.


Well Nuk killed them, thats obvious. It wasn't anything exotic. He is just better and Tajh trusts him instead of attempting something to Peake or Bryant.

Pace was good, play count over 55 with the first string in there the whole first half. 85+ again as we hoped for.

We should be running the ball much better than we are against the 3-3 front they are giving us. This photo I clipped in the 2nd half, but this is nothing different from what they gave us early.

They ran a few twists between the OLB and DEs, but look at those bubbles in the front. We should be able to drive a Mack Truck up the middle of this defense and we really didn't. It just seems like we get pass happy. Some of that may be due to Stoudt needing work, but we also need to continue to dominate the lines.

No one stood out to me up front, good or bad. We appeared to have just one pick up problem, which was better. Guys are finishing blocks still, which is encouraging to see. Kalon Davis and Spencer Region are not crisp on pull action however. They really need to move better, and lose weight.

Tajh was crisp, good decision-making, ran well. Nothing else you can say. First team offense clicked on without much of a hiccup.

Martavis Bryant has to pick his game up. I want to see him fighting like I see guys like Adam Humphries fight. He needs to be more physical at the POA.