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Game Film Review: Maryland

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson's defense did a pretty good job today so I see no need to give the same depth on each play, so I'll just comment on longer drives or good/bad plays.

ESPN Play-by-play

MD at 19 - Couple of zone plays for 6, Pass dropped beyond the sticks. 3 & out.

AH fumbled on the hit on this punt return but recovered it. Ball bounced off his chest pads.

CU from 30 - Zone Toss for 6. Overloaded the right side here, and had Thomas on the RT spot...Screen to Sammy Watkins for 4...Again on other side for Bryant for 8...Zone, McDowell makes a free blitzer miss and gets 14...Screen to SW incomplete, high and wide throw...Tajh flips it off to Hot Rod as he's being sacked (by Timothy's man) for 6...Back shoulder throw down the sideline to Bryant for 17...Screen to SW for 2...Free blitzer comes off the edge on a Zone give and gets Hot Rod this time. Mishandled snap a bit. No gain...Boyd throws one up to Sammy that is tipped away by MD. They had good coverage on this. 31 yd FG Catman, 3-0 Clemson. 11 plays 57 yards, 2:54.

Moved the ball pretty well here. We are intentionally letting the OLB blitzer come free. Best runs were all outside runs.

MD from 25 - Power for 6...ZR keep for loss of 2, Vic Beasley on the TFL...Jacobs takes a post route 71 yards for a TD. 7-3 Maryland. 3 plays 75 yards, 1:28.

Clemson is playing Cover 3 from a 2 shell look. You can see Travis Blanks start going backwards from his initial alignment into the MOF FS spot in C3. He is in perfect position above the post and takes a shitty angle, slips, and then theres no one to stop this.



The first thing that needs to happen is for the underneath defender to make contact with the WR to protect the seam of the defense, which in C3 is also roughly the seam on the field. There are two guys there that could do it. Neither does it. The LB Stephone Anthony is not exactly where he needs to be if you look at the other Curl/Flat defenders, he should be more where the X on the field is and finding that receiver. He jumps across the face of the WR to try an INT and misses it, and has vacated his zone.

You see Blanks in about as good a position as you can be in at the top of the coverage.


He takes a terrible angle to the football and crosses the WR's path, slips, and its over.


CU at 25 - IZ cut back for 9...Power for 3...Screen to SW for 5...Boyd keeps it for 8 against a run blitz off the edge...IZ for 11, cut back..Screen to AH for 9, good block by Sammy...IZ for 6, cut back outside...IZ for 2...Boyd too tall for Seckinger at the pylon, but he was covered. He had a receiver cutting in on a post route that he possibly could've hit, but Boyd locked on Seckinger...Delay draw, McDowell for 13...Substitution foul on MD, 5 yds...Power for no gain. No movement inside...Boyd throws to a covered Bryant, but PI called in the corner. Ball on the 2 yard line with a 1st down by rule...IZ, Davis gets his ass kicked on an inside move. McDowell nearly fumbles the ball, and loses 2...Zone Read keeper, Seckinger completely misses his block on the Redshirt Fr OLB who tackles Boyd for loss of 1. This play looks like ZR, but if it was, then Boyd made a terrible read...Called pass play with a Power blocking scheme, they blitz the LB up the hole that the pulling Shatley vacates, RB went to the right to take out the OLB blitzer on the right side, and Tajh gets sacked. 29 yd FG Catman. 7-6 Maryland, 15 plays 63 yards, 5:22.



That one is a good defensive call to our call, but the RB needs to take the guy coming up the middle and have Tajh deal with the edge man if that ever happens.

The OL did not read the defensive front or they'd have checked the protection call to something else. A pulling guard should've stayed put when theres a LB in his face. In the end, both 21 and 47 get half a sack since McDowell misses his cut block. Everything here is coaching.

Boyd was injured on that sack.

Nearly every yard that McDowell and Brooks have gotten has been because they've cut back the IZ play to the outside. There is zero movement in the interior line. They are all standing up straight and none of them are coming off the ball well.

MD at 25 - First pass incomplete...IZ for 4..RB screen to Reid for 11. Beasley should've flattened him and didn't, the RB snuck around him with blockers...Anthony beat up the seam for 11 on a slant. Didn't collision the WR...False start...IZ for 1...King drops a pass at the sticks...Jacobs gets behind Korrin Wiggins for 22. Smith decks him after that to save a TD. End 1st QTR. ZR give for 23. Well blocked but LBs are not in position, they did not read the play quickly enough. Kearse got run over on the first tackle 10 yards downfield and Anthony missed a 2nd...Rowe throws incomplete. Their WRs were not where they should've been, but good coverage...Iso for 2...Kearse reads Rowe's eyes and picks off a pass in the endzone, returned to the 25. 11 plays 68 yards, 4:58

Kearse just read his eyes, and he locked on the WR running the slant to make it easier.

Not a good drive for the LBs and underneath coverage. You cannot let guys get a free release up the seam. This drives me crazy. If you don't make collision or interfere with the route then they'll pick you apart.

CU at 25 - PA pass to Seckinger, dropped...False start on Thomas...Screen to SW and he takes it 16...Power for 6 outside...Screen to SW for 6...IZ for 5...Drag to SW for 4...Power for 3...End around give to Hot Rod, gains 2. Ball was stripped after he was down. I wish Cooper would've remained engaged on his block....Watkins on a Dig route for 25...IZ for 3, no movement...Boyd counter bootleg, pass tipped or its a 1st down...Swing pass to Hot Rod for 2. Tackled immediately. I wonder why he did not throw to Sammy on the drag underneath. 25 yard FG Catman. 9-7 Clemson, 13 plays 67 yards. 3:49.

MD at 33 - 3 & out.

CU at 18 - OZ orbit for 8..IZ, he runs into the LOS and goes no where. Everyone standing up, especially Norton and Davis...WR screen to SW, he runs through a guy and carries a few more for 21...Power for 5. Davis was slow but he blocked his man...Counter H outside for 9, Brooks injured on this play...Sammy snatches a slant pass for 14...Power for 5. Caught them in a bit of a stunt on the left side...Boyd steps outside and a delay blitz nails him. Loss of 3. They did have good coverage that I saw...Blitzer comes right past Ryan Norton up the A-gap to nail Tajh. Intentional grounding called as Tajh throws it away...TO CU. Punt, thanks to the sack and penalty, plus wind directly in our face. 9 plays 48 yards. 3:51.

Boyd just too slow with the ball release.

On the last play there is a Shade NG on Norton, but another LB is in the other A-gap. The NG backs off once the blitzer is through. A 3-tech is on Shatley, who never looked inside. Norton ended up blocking two and the blitzer got right by. McDowell never looked over from the other side of Tajh. This protection needed to be adjusted, or Shatley needed to take the blitzer to slide the protection over to the left (you always block from the inside-out).

I just think our QB never feels the need to adjust a protection call when theres an obvious blitz. This should be his call. I have seen it all year.

MD at the 8 - 3 & out. Power on 1st play and Beasley kills the guy in the backfield. Kearse made a good tackle on the slant to end this drive.

CU at 42 - Quick out to AH for 5...Delay draw, loss of 2. Didn't need to handed off. DE stunted and came free...SW slant and carries it 30...IZ, big hole on right side gets 6...Screen for 4, shitty block by Cooper nearly lets it get intercepted...defensive holding called on a pass that should not have been thrown over the very middle, AH was not open at all. I think its a bad call too...IZ for 2 inside...TO CU with 0:14...Leggett sneaks out on a wheel for a TD, just beat the Safety. 16-7 Clemson. 7 plays 58 yards, 1:44.

MD at 35 - PI called on Jenkins, which I felt he had to do or its 6. Then Robert Smith intercepts a Hail Mary at the 2.


Tajh Boyd, 18/23 for 183, 4 carries -3 yds.

Sammy has 10 receptions for 127 yards in the 1st half.

Maryland is playing a mix of C2 with straight-up Zero coverage with a very-spread out 3-4 front. Their NG is beating Norton's ass about as bad as Freeman would've been. He's even beating double teams. They blitz heavily off the edges and with a few twists from the OLBs. They do that because they can see our OL sucks at blitz pickup and they can see how Tajh gets shaky when he's harassed on film. I'd do the same thing. Why would you respect our line to pick up a blitzer?

Clemson is mostly in Cover 2 shell and rotating into C3.

Start 3rd QTR

CU at 16 - IZ for 3...Delayed blitz, Tajh throws too high for Hot Rod, who was wide open. Sidearmed that ball...Dumped off underneath to Hot Rod for 4. Punt. 3 plays 7 yards, 1:19.

MD at 46 - 3 & out. Good coverage on a post route by Wiggins, but the ball is slightly underthrown.

CU at 20 - WR screen to Sammy, he's tackled by a couple guys and has the ball stripped.

MD at CU 23 - 3 & out. Wiggins nice play to bat down a pass. 41 yd FG. 16-10 Clemson.

Clutch job by the defense to stop them cold. The game could've completely flipped here. I think we would've won still because we were running a ton of plays and wearing them down, but its possible.

CU at 23 - IZ, McDowell basically had to let go of that ball for it to come out that way. It wasn't ripped by hand. It just flew out.

Another f'n fumble. This one is far worse than Sammy's. Come out of the half and continue pissing down our legs.

MD at CU 26 - 3 & out. 41 yd FG. 16-13 Clemson.

Same as above. Clemson is trying to give it to MD, and they wont take it.

CU at 25 - ZR/IZ for 8...Power for 5...Slant to SW for 11...Flings one out to SW in the flat for 13...Screen to AH for 8...Screen to AH for 11...IZ for 3.5ish..Boyd rolls out to try to hit Cooper and is run down. Really no one open either on that side...Davis beaten, Boyd makes DT miss and runs for 11...Power for 2...IZ, right side can't block, Anthony whiffs, play loses 2...TO CU...Blitz, Boyd forces one over the middle to Sammy on a post. Nearly intercepted. Tajh didn't even read that MLB. No way should he have thrown that where he did. 24 yd FG Catman. 19-13 Clemson. 13 plays 68 yards, 4:23.

MD at 25 - Breeland misses tackle to allow 12 yd gain on a screen, weak tackle attempts give up 8 on the next Zone play... Rowe misses a guy running a deep Cross who is open by 15 yards in all directions, cant tell exactly who is at fault but appears the underneath coverage didn't sink properly and keep count on the receivers. Rowe scrambles for 14. Maryland negates all this positive motion with 15 yards of penalties. 5 plays 14 yards. 3:02.

CU at 20 - OZ for 7...Counter H, LG pulled and got killed and blew it up...Blitzer comes free, Tajh dumps it off quickly to Hot Rod who is tackled for a loss. Punt.

Jesus, they show an obvious blitz off the right side and he comes completely f'n free as usual. DO WE NOT HAVE A CHECK TO THE PROTECTION?

MD from 27 - IZ, cutback lane opens right up for 13. Anthony overplayed the IZ and was sealed off by a veering blocker...They manage a 1st down with a screen and a handoff but good coverage and a drop ends the drive.

Christian came completely free off the edge on the last play and of course missed Rowe totally. Typical.

CU from 7 - IZ for 1. No movement on left side. Start 4th QTR...Deep cross to Bryant for 22...Boyd too high for AH running a post, he was open...Rollout, pass to GHop too far out of bounds...Boyd throws it too far behind Bryant, intercepted and dropped. That pass should never have been thrown. 5 plays 23 yards, 0:45.

MD at 25 - Thrown too long to Etta-Tawo, but well covered by Robinson....IZ, cuts it outside and Breeland socked him, causing a fumble. Good form tackle.

CU at MD 22 - PA pass to Hopper on a post, dropped. Catchable ball....Keeper for 13...IZ, cut outside for 4...QB Power for the TD. 26-13 Clemson. 4 plays 22 yards. 0:58

Good movement on the Power for the score.

MD at 40 - 3 & out. Josh Watson registers a sack. They drop a drag route, and the throw is off on another easy completion. Dude was open.

If Rowe didn't suck and their WRs could catch, this might be a different game.

CU at 29 - Screen to SW for 9...Screen, looked like a tunnel screen and pass batted down by DE...QB Power for the 1st down...Blitz, Mike Williams runs a 9 or a post, and Boyd throws it right at the CB.

WR needed to see the blitz coming from the short side and break off his route to the hot read. This is the WR's fault.

MD at our 31 - 4 & out. Turnover on downs. First play killed the drive, End around, Shuey stays home and TFL of 11...Deep cross again, completed out of bounds.

CU at 42 - IZ for 4...Called keeper for 5..QB Power for 3...Bryant beats his man on a skinny post/vertical, for 41. It was good coverage but Bryant had position...QB Power for 2...Bucksweep for the TD. 33-16 Clemson. 6 plays 58 yards.

MD at 32 - 16 yard completion on a jump ball, we're playing too far off there...Comeback again at the sticks for 10, DB just a step behind...Deep post for 25. Stephone let the receiver get by him, he looked right at the guy and let him run right by him. Pitiful. Looked like C2 and Smith just a bit late, but he should not have gotten past Anthony like that...Rowe hit as he throws away...Short comeback route, Anthony misses the tackle, then Wiggins walks up and tries to grab the ball instead of tackling the guy. He gets the first down as a result of this shit...IZ for no gain...Rowe hits a man at the goal line and he drops it. Appears that the LBs were just too far off, but Shuey's hit probably aided the drop...Tawo beats Blanks for the TD. Why am i not surprised? 33-20 Clemson. 8 plays 68 yards, 1:59.

Mentally not present on this drive. Its not the calls, its just shitty play.

I cannot stand it when guys get to walk right up the seam of the defense and no Hook/Curl defender hits them. You don't even have to knock their teeth out, just redirect them and disrupt timing. Several times today Anthony has just let the guy right by him.

CU at MD 48 - IZ for 3...IZ, basically a lead zone from the backside, for 45. Good stick by D.Smith. 40-20 Clemson. 2 plays 48 yards 0:55.

MD at 32 - Post route for 20, Wiggins lost leverage...3 man rush, Vic Beasley gets a sack and forced fumble. Clemson recovers.

CU at MD 48 - Cole Stoudt is in. IZ for 3...IZ for 3...QB Power, no movement., again, no movement on 4th down. turnover on downs.

Now if we had a strong OL, we'd have iced this game with a 1st down, and we'd have gotten the 1st down on 4th & 2.

MD at 39 - WR drops a pass against Breeland, who had good coverage...Rowe scrambles for 3...Hitch for 7 at the sticks. We're playing soft coverage...False start...Sidearms a ball to the flat for 6...Comeback route caught for 10, way too long for Rowe to throw that ball...Hitch for 5...Blitz, Rowe scrambles for 11. Barnes is lackadaisical in pursuit. Just jogging after him...TO MD...Holding called on us downfield...Nigel King beats Smith on a Corner route for the TD. CB let him get behind him and Smith was just late. 40-27 Clemson. 8 plays 61 yards, 2:25.

Now this drive we look to be playing a Vic Koenning-style defense. They just peck away at a soft coverage.

Clemson kneels to end it.

Summarizing Thoughts

Clemson really did move the ball extremely well during the game. Until we reached the 20 we were not getting much of a challenge from Maryland's defense. Hot Rod and Sammy Watkins both had great ballgames. Brandon Thomas did well as he usually does on the left side, and I saw a lot of good effort on the perimeter in terms of blocking and route running.

Maryland sucks so bad at WR and QB that they couldn't challenge our Defense, who also played a great game overall until they let up mentally at the end. I'm surprised they gave up on the run game as quickly as they did but they were pretty well stuffed early on.

However, a team that has lost 21 scholarship players, when most of them really aren't good anyway, should not be in it with this year's Clemson team. I'm starting to think much more of our defense simply because our offense tries to F up so bad as to give the game away, and yet the D saves us time and again.

Look back to the twin turnovers and the 6 points allowed and think about the psyche of this team coming off a loss to FSU. Would we have scored 40 if MD goes ahead 21-16? I've seen us get the wide-eyed look on offense before when we're down, then we press, Tajh fucks up, and we shit the bed completely. I'm not certain we win this game if the defense does not stop them twice in a short field.

The causes for the problems are the same as they've been all season with the addition of fumbleitis. The TE's don't block well or just completely miss assignments. Despite what Dabo said this week, the OL is not doing a good job. Hot Rod had a good day off of cutbacks, on plays designed to go inside. The interior 3 men don't do a good job moving anyone at all, because they all stand up and none can generate movement off the snap. Our QB locks on one man too quickly. We don't attack the middle of a defense that is weak there. The safety position is killing us with big plays, and Shaq Anthony is simply not good enough in zone coverage.

Kalon Davis is sluggish by the 3rd quarter. He's out of shape to play a 4 quarter game when he's asked to pull. The RB should not beat him to the hole every time. How long has he been here? Batson'd.

I said after his sophomore season at NG that Tyler Shatley had two boat anchors as feet, and its still true. He's strong but he doesn't move. And quite frankly Ryan Norton and Jay Guillermo are not able to beat anyone at the POA.

Shaq Anthony can pass block when he picks up the right man, but can't move people. The common excuse is that he only had to pass block in HS and is stunted in run blocking as a result. We said that when Clemson signed him and its not a valid excuse anymore. He's been here how long and still can't? Batson'd.

Giff Timothy lunges too much to be a serviceable pass blocker. He bends right over every time. No knee bend. You have to move your feet, not just bend over and hope you deflect.

If we're going win out then Brandon Thomas should be at RT right now and Isaiah Battle at LT. Thats what we wanted in August and its still true. I know Battle is a shitty practice player or he'd play more, but you don't have much choice because the RT spot is going to cost you a game. Kalon Davis either needs to get in shape to play more than 20 snaps or go back to 2nd string permanently, and Norton/Shatley need to do better off the snap. If everyone is going to give us Cover 2, we need to take advantage of it, and we can't right now.

Dabo basically admitted that Seckinger sucks right now, I only think he sucks as a blocker. You can't play pattycake or completely miss an OLB and let your QB get knocked for a loss in the red zone. You can't pull into a hole and no nothing. I'm not confident any one of our TEs can do the complete job they're asked to do. Smith apparently can't do in the pass, but if you need to go max protect or run the ball, he better be in there or Tajh will be on his back. Cooper has been surprisingly inconsistent in that area, and Leggett is clearly not ready for it, and by his own admission this week is also a lazy practice player.

Our safety problem is well-documented and I don't have much else to say there. Kearse played well in this game, but has screwed up plenty, so I wouldn't clamor for anyone to start over Blanks. I would give the young guys snaps. I feel like we have reached the Top 40 level I wanted us to get to this year, and if we can just fix this problem with the safety, along with the LB's protecting seams, we're Top 20. They are right there or better than that in several areas.

I'm going to go ahead and predict that Georgia Tech is going to be a serious dogfight. It'll be harder than it should, even if PJ goes braindead in Death Valley again. I don't think we can beat a 0-tech, and their defense has actually improved at stopping the run. I'm scared of our safeties in the alley and I'm scared they'll bite hard and the WingBack will run 20 yards by them.