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Game Film Review: Clemson @ NC State

Streeter Lecka

Note on my shorthand: IZ/OZ= Inside/Outside Zone; IV=Inverted Veer/power read; Power= Power O; Counters we run are mostly Counter-H's. ZR=Zone read, though a ZR handoff is nothing but IZ so I use them interchangeably at times.

ESPN Play-by-Play

CU from 25 -QB Power for 3...Draw for 10..PA, Tajh throws it away late. Too much pressure at RT, but they overloaded there and it was an option read....Gifford Timothy gets his ass whipped, sack. Lunged and bent at the waist instead of the knees...Tajh checkdown to Hot Rod, but Clemson had called TO before play...Bootleg, Tajh rolls out and finds Sammy on sideline for 16. Hot Rod laid it out for a block, but shouldnt have lowered his head like that...Looked like a Dart for 4...Sammy reverse toss for 3. Poor blocking effort from Bryant...Hopper on a hitch for 10...WR screen to Ghop for 3...Statue of Liberty for 12 to the boundary...Power for loss of 1. David Beasley ran into two guys pulling and they blew him backwards...Tajh a little too high to Bryant. Borderline catchable...Gifford Timothy gets his ass beat again, this time to the inside, loss of 11. 49 yd FG Catman. 3-0 Clemson, 14 plays 43 yards, 5:02.

Drive was fairly good aside from Timothy, who I did not see fall down before the first sack was allowed. WR blocking effort needs to improve.

NCSU from 32 - Dump out to Smith for 7, Christian missed tackle...Fly sweep option, Vic Beasley misses it in the backfield, he goes 18...Thomas incomplete to Underwood, just missed the fade. Could've been 6...IZ for 1...VB Pressure forces throw away. Punt. 5 plays 26 yards.

CU from 10 - Shaq Anthony in at RT. Screen to Sammy for 6...Hitch to Seckinger for 4...WR screen to Sammy for 3. AH didnt quite have the leverage to make that work...Counter H, called back for holding by Norton...Power sweep for loss of 6. I dont see who Tajh is reading, likely the backside LB, but the DE came free outside off Anthony's hip. I'm also not sure Anthony was supposed to down-angle block. Shatley seemed alarmed that Anthony went to the DT. Appears to be a busted play. Tajh should've kept it..WR screen to Bryant, they were all over it for loss of 2. 5 plays -1 yards, 2:54. Punt.

Completely discombobulated drive.

NCSU at CU 48 - QB keep for 4...Iso for 1...Quick out for 3...4th & 2 at our 40, they can't get lined up to run a play in time and have to call TO to punt. 3 plays 8 yards.

Clemson is playing mostly Cover 1 Robber. They don't respect State's passing game.

CU from 6 - Tajh has to throw early and completely miss the HR to Bryant. Looks like Anthony blocked down again and Smith needed to get over to Log block the DE. PA sweep must be meant to conflict this DE, but they are just coming straight for Tajh no matter what. ..IZ for 6...Bigtime throw to Mike Williams for 25 on an out...WR screen to Sammy for 7. AH needed to stay on his feet to block the CB...NC State stunts to the right, we fail to slide the protection (Anthony seems alarmed they went out and instead took the DT again), and Tajh barely evades sack with 4 yard scramble...WR screen to sammy for 8. Better block that time from AH...Zone for loss of 1...TO CU just before the INT. Whistle had blown before the ball was touched. Bryant gave up on that route when he heard whistle...Hitch to Sammy for 8...Boyd overthrew Sammy on another potential TD. He missed that one, no pressure in his face...Bucksweep for 15, wicked spin move by Hot Rod...IZ for loss of 1, no movement on right side. End 1st QTR...Pressure, Boyd misses an open Bryant over the middle, he scrambled and did not really need to there...Pressure forces early throw incomplete. 45 yd FG Catman. 6-0 Clemson. 14 plays 66 yards, 3:50

I want to see Bryant play hard all the damn time. That is what separates him from Nuk over at the 9. He takes plays off and gets lazy as hell.

Shaq Anthony is clearly confused. GIfford Timothy sucks, but Anthony's head isn't where it needs to be.

NCSU from 8 - QB Power for 3...Wheel route for 32, Shuey correctly took the first man who went to the flat, but Anthony did not match up on Thornton as he should've...QB power for 3...Sweep/reverse for 17. Tavaris Barnes did his step down but didn't see the ballcarrier quickly enough. Was already past him on the edge. Christian went with the TE who basically lead blocked for the reverse...WR screen for 10. They blocked us well...QB Power, which the DT blew up, yet Shuey let the QB run by him and Travis Blanks STILL CANT TACKLE the QB, goes for 11...False start...Shadrach Thornton IZ right up the A-gap for 21 yd TD, carries Peters, Blanks and Smith the last 6 yards. Josh Watson just got bulldozed out of the hole and a LB was not there to fit. 7-6 NC State. 7 plays 92 yards, 3:43.

Shit tackling. Pure shit. Can't fit gaps and can't pick up correct assignments.

CU from 25 - Counter H for 30. Excellent blocks on the edge by Cooper and Shatley...Thrown to Bryant on the ground, gets 2...QB Counter for 5...Boyd throws 2 feet over Bryant's head on a streak. Bryant goes a long way if that ball was lower. Punt. 4 plays 37, 1:20.

Pooch punt by Catman was damn good, surprised the snap worked at that angle.

3rd & 3 at the 38, I think Chad should've let Hot Rod run the ball.

NCSU from 20 - Thomas naked bootleg, thrown way behind his WR...Outside Zone for 1. We did a good job with the unbalanced line...Flat route to Cherry for 7, momentum carried him out of bounds. Korrin Wiggins was far too loose in coverage...Delay because they can't figure out their own punt formation shifts. Punt. 3 plays 33 yards, 1:32.

Little better pressure there.

CU at 44 - Counter H for 4...Boyd stepped out and into the pressure off the right side, but Brandon Thomas hinged as well. Thrown away...Bryant on a crosser runs behind and into the umpire, doesnt see the ball early enough I think...False start on the punt. Personal foul on the punt return. 3 plays -1 yards, 0:32

Thomas started out at RT on this drive. Boyd needs to stand in the pocket and not get happy feet so much. He had time.

NCSU at 14 - IZ/Iso for 5...IZ, Crawford beats the RT inside for a loss of 1...QB scrambles for 5, but an illegal block below the waist cost them 9...QB keep for 5. They ran away from the unbalanced side. Punt.

Don't know that I would call that a good drive by the defense, they shot themselves with a penalty that had no effect on the play.

CU from 44 - Boyd scrambles right to find Bryant, who lets a ball get into his chest and drops it...Draw for 1...Sammy Watkins wide open on the other side of the field for 28. That was a long slow throw...Kalon Davis can't get over to intercept a pass rusher on a bootleg, forcing Tajh to throw off balance and late to Sammy, batted away. Sammy needed to come back to that...QB keep for loss of 2...Sammy on a Dig for 11...4th & 1 at the 18, QB Power for 7. Good block by Davis...Sam Cooper right up the seam for a TD. 13-7 Clemson. 8 plays 56 yards, 2:47.

Same play we ran against BC last year for a TD. Cooper lined up at LT and was not covered, making him eligible. Really works better when you can go with a quick snap. The defense doesn't have time to see who is where.

OL did a bit better though with the time given.

NCSU from 23 - Smith up the sideline on a wheel route for 33. Appears that Smith did not have his eyes on the right man when they ran a scissors pattern with the wheel. Peters respected the Post route inside and was late on the sideline...They try to set a trick, get a sub penalty for having 12 on...And another false start...Screen, Shuey ate it up for loss of 3...TO NC State..Pass underneath, Crawford hustled over there to make the tackle after both Christian and Anthony overran it...Sack by Jarrett as the QB stepped up...TO CU..TO NC State..Hail Mary to the endzone falls incomplete.


NC State is our best defensive player. Every time they do something right, they immediately fuck up. #74 in particular is killing them. Clemson's DL is getting good, consistent pressure, but we're overrunning plays because the LB/S level is not sticking to their keys with all the backfield motion. They are not able to just line up and run inside, they're getting us on over-pursuit and not being able to control the alley.

Our RT situation basically killed the first drive, and Shaq Anthony couldn't do the job that well either. Once Thomas moved over we played better.

That is not to say Tajh couldn't have played better. Sometimes he feels rush that isn't there yet, and needs to step up into the pocket and take a hit to deliver a throw.

If Bryant wants to be the man, he needs to raise his game 100% of the time. Taking plays off and not attacking the ball with his hands is what holds him back.

Chad needs to let his OL gel by running the ball (WITH THE RB) when the situation presents itself.

46 plays in the 1st half.

Start 3rd QTR

NCSU at 14 - Jet read, goes for 5. IZ for 2...Vic Beasley nasty inside rip move on the LT for the sack. Punt.

CU at 48 - Quick pass to Bryant for 4...Same play opposite side to Sammy, dropped. Poor throw too though...Quick out to Sammy for 3, thrown behind Sammy. WE WASTE A TIMEOUT BECAUSE BLANKS CANT GET HIS SHIT TOGETHER ON THE PUNT. 3 plays 7 yards, 0:43.

That was Chad forcing Tajh to get some rhythm going with easy throws, and he was off on two of the throws. That throw behind Sammy is an interception against SC or FSU, and its 6 the other way. I don't see why Chad can't go with a few more run calls instead of forcing things. If he's on the field and we're playing fast, Tajh will get in his groove eventually. Just run the ball some.

Blanks said earlier this week that he was talking to Venables and didn't realize the defense had quickly forced a 3 & out.

NCSU at 7 - TE slips through the underneath coverage on an Out for 11...Power sweep, eaten by Grady Jarrett for loss of 4...Swing pass for 4. Josh Watson got held or its a sack...CB/WLB blitz, Thomas scrambles for 5. Punt. 4 plays 16 yards.

CU at 25 - Gifford Timothy back in at RT. Counter H for 13...False start Thomas...Half roll right, to Sammy for 6...Counter H and Seckinger COMPLETELY FUCKING MISSES THE DEFENDER IN THE HOLE. Loss of 2...Tajh scrambles for 10 up the sideline. Punt. 4 plays 22 yards, 1:54.

Pisspoor Seckinger. Should've been Smith in there for that play.

NCSU from 17 - Jet read for 36. They said he stepped out at the 47.I'm trying to figure out WTF Christian was looking at because he wasn't watching the back coming across. Robert Smith did try to make a play but got cut in the alley...Rollout, incomplete on sideline...Crawford whips his man and forces a throw away...Vic Beasley, standing as a 7-tech, beats the RT inside for a sack, forced fumble that Shuey recovered.

Pressure killing NC State. Its consistently kicking their ass in the 3rd Q.

We got a beneficial call. I've looked at it over and over and I don't see anything that makes me think we didnt.

Does the ACC owe us one after all the hosejobs we've gotten from refs? Yes. Is this the right call? no.

State scores there and its 14-13. The fans stay in it, and we don't get the ensuing TD to make it 20-7. If its 14-13 going to the 4th, I don't see NC State beating Clemson. Their OL was having their asses handed to them consistently and as they had in the first half. It would've been closer and in doubt longer, but I still think we win.

CU from 48 - Hopper on a touch pass. Shaq Anthony blocks down, DE comes free and gets Ghop for a 12 yard loss...Bryant for 20 up the sideline...QB Power for 6...Power for 4...Boyd finds Martavis Bryant in the endzone for TD. 20-7 Clemson. 5 plays 48 yards, 1:27.

Good thing Boyd found Bryant because Anthony got beat by a swim move to the outside and its a sack if Tajh holds it 1 second longer. I don't know why Anthony immediately steps to his inside or blocks down on almost every play.

NCSU at 25 - PA post broken by Breeland. Good play, thrown behind the WR...IZ for 2...Crosser for 28. Breeland got picked by the Umpire. Breeland needed to jam the receiver there, he had inside leverage in M2M, and never touched the damn WR. Korrin Wiggins completely whiffs on a tackle along with a poor angle...Thomas scrambles for 6...False start...Power for 1, good play by Shuey to save VB who opened up the hole with an overly aggressive and poor key read...Hitch for 11. Soft zone coverage...Shaq Lawson eats up a Jet sweep for loss of 6. Cut right between a double...Crosser for 13. Soft Zone. Anthony too far off...False start...Lawson with the sack as Thomas steps up to scramble. Start 4th QTR. State misses 48 yd FG, pushed it.

CU from 32 - Power for 4. Beasley goes down as Anthony rolls into the back of his knee...Quick screen batted away by the DE...Swing pass to Hot Rod for 10. Nice juke. Be nice if Sammy remains engaged in his block...Brooks counter for 4...Boyd has to scramble after Brooks fails to lay a good cut on the DT, gets 5...IZ for 3..Delay blitz, Boyd finds Hopper 24 yards on a 9 route...IZ for 6...Read option for loss of 3, too much penetration...Bryant grabs one over the CB's head for the TD...We go for 2, not sure why, but Tajh rolls out and can't get in. 26-7 Clemson. 10 plays 68 yards, 3:33.

Best drive of the night.

NCSU from 16 - Keep for 4...Coverage forces scramble for 9, VB held bad...IZ for 6...IZ for 1...Pass deflected by Robinson, good play. We had 12 on the field, one was coming off...HB Pass, pressure forces him to pull it and we look stupid trying to tackle him, gets 6 when it was a 5-7 yard loss...Thomas dumps it off for loss of 1. Watson held bad...False start...Robinson tight coverage down the sideline, ball bounced off the WR's facemask...Underwood up the seam for 15 on 4th down, loose zone...VB bats one down...Barnes bats one away...Crosser for 4...4th down, TO CU, because we had too many on the field I think...Crosser at the sticks, we flub the tackle (robinson and wiggins), gets 13...Thomas scrambles, thrown in dirt. Williams held...VB zips past RB, bats it away...Dump off incomplete, Lawson held badly...4th & 10, Thomas steps up and hits Ramos at sticks for 13....Sacked by VB...WR screen for 9. They block it better than we do, and we run it all the time...Beasley spin move, held, nearly sacked. Throw was batted down...Pass rushers leave their lanes, Thomas runs right up the middle for 9...QB Power, no gain...Coverage forces throw away...Pass rushers leave their lanes on a QB Draw, 4 yd TD. 26-14 Clemson. 23 plays, 84 yards, 7:37.

Its never OK to give up 23 play TD drives, I don't care what the score and time remaining is. We got beat with 4th down passes.

Not one specific problem on the drive, other than poor tackling. Poor rush lane discipline showed and cost us a score.

I don't complain about holding calls very often, because it happens and its part of the game that can get called on every play. It is an excuse. However, there were some really bad no-calls against us on the drive that kept it alive for NC State.

CU from 45 with 3:50 - Clemson is just running the ball well with DJ Howard. I wonder why then we even let Tajh run the ball twice on the drive. Howard broke off 20 and 14 yarders. Battle clocks a guy and gets ejected.


NC State at 26- Soft zone allows 5 yard completion, a 12 yard QB scramble up the gut and Breeland finishes it with a garbage time INT.

Summarizing Thoughts

The way I see it, we have one two big issues preventing our defense from being called "good": safety play and tackling. We are good at neither, and you cannot hide it.

A good opponent with players can exploit the weakness we have at safety and if Blanks and Smith are not significantly improved, its going to become a shootout. They are improving, but there is a long way to go. The way our offense has played the last two weeks does not have me brimming with confidence. None of them have learned proper pursuit angles. Blanks is atrocious at tackling anyone in open space, which is not what I expected his problem would be this year. Aside from their actual tackling, they still aren't great at fitting gaps. Blanks himself said this week in an interview that his head was swimming in the 1st Q from the backfield shifting and motion -- don't think our opponents wouldn't see it on film.

If there is any big play its due to the safeties or our tackling, and we still give up far too many. I don't see a real solution that doesn't create a weakness. Breeland probably does not have the true speed of an NFL CB, and likely has more future at FS if he makes it to the next level, but we cannot afford moving him fulltime. Robert Smith seems to me to just be a player, and rarely will be one who would make you go "wow" with a play.

Then theres the issue of the penalty. Yes I saw the grainy picture posted that seems to show he's out. The video shows me he was in. The ref blew the call. Do I think Clemson still wins? Yes. I don't see anything on State's side that makes me think they would've beaten us, they couldn't stop the pass rush and Thomas sucks. They would not have gone for it on those 4th downs with a lead. It would've been closer, but Clemson should've won. The intangibles would've been in their favor, so you can't say with 100% certainty. That flip took the crowd out of the game.

Brightest spot was the DL pressure. It was good start to finish. Lawson, Beasley, and Crawford played really well. The DTs were solid inside, though I'm waiting for guys like Watson and Williams to step it up, and Reader hasn't progressed as swiftly as I thought he might. Jarrett has been the real force thus far. If our safeties look any better this year the credit may go chiefly to this group.

For the offense the problem is glaring, and it doesn't take a film review to see that RT is a major concern. I did not see Timothy get hit in any way to make me think he should've had a concussion, but I have been pointing to him for much longer than 1 game. He is not fast enough for the higher caliber ends you see in the big games. He can beat WF and BC but he isn't going to beat the best.

Shaq Anthony is fine once he engages with a guy, but from what I saw he was either playing the wrong protection or we called the wrong protection very often when he was in, which do you think it was? He's not a RT on a running team, not strong enough.

The best line going forward is with Battle at LT and Thomas at RT. If we're not able to throw Battle in by the FSU game I think we're going to have problems.

At WR, no one is stepping up yet, and it shows. Humph is not a downfield threat. We knew this already. At least 90% of his catches at Clemson have been screens. Bryant makes a few miracle plays and flubs just as many would-be great plays. He blocks like a sissy.

I'm coming around to the idea of Mike Williams getting much more PT at the 5 spot. Hopper's effort shows me he deserves at least a few more snaps. He at least tries to hit someone hard, unlike Bryant, who'd rather block like Xavier Dye.

The only other major issue from this game was the playcalling. I rarely disagree with The Chad but as many of you can see, he veers away from the run when its working to force Tajh to get in a groove by calling easy throws and letting him carry it himself. Tajh hasn't the last two games, partly due to the protection, partly due to some footwork, and the offense sputters. I think Tajh will get into a groove just as well if we can pound the rock at high tempo and then let him chuck a few. If the OL is really a strength, lets see them prove it.