Sorry, busy week for The Kraken so I'm a day late on the review. I had to burn the midnight oil to get this baby done. This is long and I encourage you to read this installments. I'm going to provide more detail for the big games this year and less for the cupcakes. I'm also making a conscious effort to keep it as simple as possible for the casual fan and not bog you down in too much terminology. However, if you want to learn, you are going to have to try even if it's only a play or two a week that you fully digest. I'll use pictures for the pivotal plays if you want to skip to just those. If you rewatch the game, or even parts of it, this can be used as a companion piece. And yes, I know this is the defensive review but I like to lead off here by discussing the offense.
I'll make this short and sweet. Yes, Deshaun Watson is THAT good. The "DeShaunny Football" sign the guy brought to the game is closer to the truth than not. If he stays healthy, only DeShaun can stop DeShaun.
The broken record is still playing in the living room as it has been for most of the past 15 years. The OL is soft.
The playcalling by Morris against UNC was much better and a lot more imaginative than in previous weeks.
You can see that T.J. Green is starting to feel it a little bit on kickoff returns now. He is a straight line return man with very good vision. I expect him to make some noise by the end of the year. C.J. Davidson, on the other hand, seems like a good choice on paper, but it's clear that he is not. Time to give someone else a chance. Artavis Scott?
Here is a key for my shorthand in alphabetical order in case you need to refer back to it as you read this: Blast = FB lead play in the C gap with a kick out on the DE or seal on the LB. Bullet -ILB A or B gap blitz. Crack- WR blocks down on S or LB. C0, C1, C2, C3, C4 = we are playing Cover "x." Dog (overload)- LB and S/NB blitz on the same side. EM = end man on the line of scrimmage. ET stunt - Tackle shoots outside gap and end loops around on the inside. Iso = FB lead play in the A or B gap. IZ = Inside Zone Run, Jailbreak - 7 or more blitz. LOS = Line of Scrimmage. man = man to man. OZ = outside zone run. PBU- Pass broken up. Power = FB/RB/H-B kicks out EM, backside OG leads into B gap hole. Power Sweep = FB lead to the D gap with OG pulling around. Sky - FS moves up two yards, takes flat, CB and FS take deep third. Slant Right/Left - DL slants in one direction in unison Smoke- S or NB blitz from the outside D gap. Soft Coverage - CBs/NB playing well of the WR until he gets to the 1st down line. Student Body Left/Right = FB lead play to the D gap with all uncovered linemen pulling. Sweep = FB/ HB lead play to the D gap. Stack - the 3 LBs are stacked behind D linemen. Stalk - WR blocks CB in front of him. TFL = tackle for loss.
Coach/Player shorthand: BV = Brent Venables, Mac = MacKenzie Alexander, Tank = Cordrea Tankersley, The Gambler = Garry Peters, The Fire Ant = Martin Jenkins, SA = Stephone Anthony, QD = UNC WR Quinshad Davis
Here is a guide to Personnel groupings. I will include WRs as well to make it easier. Ex. "123 personnel" would be 1 RB, 2 TEs, and 3 WRs.
1st downs will be separated by paragraphs.
Thoughts within a play will be separated by a comma (,)
Each plays will be separated by an ellipsis (...)
A summary of each drive will be done underneath the play by play
1st drive, 15:00, UNC 20, 1st and 10, 0-0
Nickel, they go right to our old friend the power sweep, Anthony with a scrape to the ball, gain of 4...HUNH, Nickel, Beasley with a good jump and Steward on a WLB Smoke, they go RB screen, snuffed out by Anthony (SA), loss of 8... HUNH, check down to the WR and somehow Grady Jarrett gets there to tackle him for no gain, good god what a play. PUNT
We've got them outnumbered 4 to 3 on the wide side with Anthony walking out to the C gap. Anthony sorts through the traffic to get to the RB screen.
2nd drive, 12:34, UNC 25, 1st and 10, 7-0 Clem
We'll take a Diet 4-3 Under look with Wiggins at Sam, playaction off sweep and Wiggins comes on a NB smoke, QB throws it away and is crushed by Crawford as he releases...HUNH, Beasley goes to the flat, we rush 3, ZR at Crawford, no scrape exchange as SA chases the RB, uh oh, QB keeps for 15, Wiggins doing a good job so far of getting off blocks...
1st and 10 at UNC 39, HUNH, 4-3 base look we showed vs. FSU except with Wiggins at SAM instead of Goodson, IZ and SA meets him in the hole for a gain of 1...HUNH, nickel CB smoke, they run a well executed power play with their big back (Hood) right into The Gambler's blitz, Gambler gets a vicious cut block but Beasley gets him for a 1 yard gain...HUNH, Nickel, showed zone blitz but we either backed out of it or there was confusion, Beasley pressures, QB throws short at the Gambler and of course, Gambler gonna gamble and he jumps that route and gets a PBU. PUNT
Diet 4-3 Under against 212 personnel means that we are respecting the run in alignment, but not in personnel. This is similar conceptually to what Kevin Steele used to do vs. spread teams. The difference now is that we've got a lot of talent out there on the field. I'm seeing great athletic plays on a down by down basis. It's really a pleasure to watch. It almost takes me back to the 80s when we used to see great players making great plays all the time. And yes, we're still waiting on The Gambler to get sucked in and beat over the top this year. The longer he goes without that happening, the more you have to start buying in to the notion that the light has come on for him. There are instances where he gives a lot of cushion this year instead of always going with that quick trigger. He's always had the athleticism and confidence to be a great CB. The fundamentals are better this year and his reaction time is the best of all the DBs. The last hurdle he has to cross is to consistently make the right read. So far, so good.
3rd Drive, 8:09, UNC 4, 1st and 10, 7-0 Clem
#2 DL in now, New UNC QB Trubiski in as well, 3 backs in the backfield for UNC, Peters doesn‘t even honor pass responsibilities and is heading to the LOS just prior to the snap, The Gambler tackles the QB on a lead ZR play for a gain of 1...HUNH, MLB smoke with Beasley dropping to the flat, Beasley doesn't get enough depth and QD catches it in front of The Gambler just inside the sticks, that's as much on Beasley as it is Peters...3rd and 1 and we stay in Nickel after UNC brings in the 230 jumbo personnel, uh oh, Iso gets 2 and the first down, nice job by Beasley and Wiggins holding up and making the play and not giving up a long run, BV needs to get the right personnel in there...
1st and 10, UNCv15, pressure by Beasley again, just gets it off to an open WR on a crosser behind Steward, Kearse tackles him immediately for a gain of 10...
1st and 10 UNC, UNC 26, HUNH, Nickel, IZ give to Hood, tackle by SA for a gain of 4, we had a DL slant to the right and Hood did a good job of working underneath it to get 4...HUNH, Nickel MLB Bullet, the UNC OG never even saw SA coming, SA hits Hood in the backfield and drops him for a loss of 2...HUNH, Nickel C2 against 4 WRs, ball gets out quick and Bug catches it at the sticks, play reviewed and called a first down.
1st and 10, UNC 36, ZR Reverse to the WR, The Gambler doesn't even think pass for a millisecond, jumps into the backfield and tackles him for a 1 yard gain, now we can add- "don't run a reverse at Da Gambla"...HUNH, Nickel in a 4-3 base alignment (Diet 4-3 base), Lawson gets pressure, QB throws it away...HUNH, 3-2-6 Dime on 3rd and 9, we show blitz but rush only 3, they set up a RB screen to Peters side, Peters defeats a cut block by the OL beautifully and makes the tackle for a gain of 1, WOW, ok, I'm going to stop right right there.
THAT is how I believe a DB properly defeats an Arc block (the blocks on the corner that Georgia Tech runs). Let's look at some cut ups of The Gambler's technique there so that you can all see what I'm talking about. First off, this notion that a 190 pound DB is supposed fend off a 200 pound RB with "their hands" is just silly to me. A RB at blocking speed is generating 2000 pounds of pressure at the point of attack. Who can stop that with their hands? Nobody. Your only chance is to generate the same amount of pressure, make contact low at their outside shoulder, and use the energy in the collision to bounce off to the outside in a fit position.
Let's look at Peters do just that to an OL that outweighs him by nearly 100 pounds.
Below is not indicating a lightsaber fight. The lines are to show that, like an Arc block, the OLman will get low and aim for the outside knee of Peters. After running straight up field, Peters now makes a quick adjustment to the outside as soon as he sees the OLman "shoot." Peters gets low and ready to make contact with his inside shoulder. Peters must set the edge or it's off to the races for the RB on the corner.
Below, you can see Peters does not use his hands. He uses his inside shoulder to make contact with the outside shoulder of the OLman. The OL is still high and the outside knee is blocked from getting cut by his shoulder.
Below, Peters does not get cut and does not give 3-5 yards of ground like the DBs that try to use their hands to defeat this type of block. Instead, he bounces forward off the OL into an upright position with outside leverage. The blocker is left to wallow in his own embarrassment.
Below, the RB has to cut it up but there's nothing he can really do now. Peters has him.
With excellent technique (the same technique I was taught to use), Peters single-handedly takes a play that could've been a TD in past years and turns it into a no-gainer. That's a helluva job.
After 3 straight plays of trying to beat Garry Peters in 3 different ways, UNC gets 1 yard and has to PUNT.
4th drive, 0:42, UNC 18, 1st and 10, 10-0 Clem
Williams back in at QB for UNC, Nickel, still no Goodson thus far, swing pass and SA reads that like a book and tackles him for a 1 yard gain...HUNH, Nickel WLB smoke, designed roll right and Lawson comes free from the backside unblocked, throws it away...END OF 1st QUARTER
3rd and 9, UNC 19, 4 WRs vs. Nickel zone blitz, had a man open past the sticks, but the throw is behind him, incomplete...PUNT
5th drive, 12:53, UNC 25, 1st and 10, 17-0 Clem
False start on the TE, 1st and 15, Nickel NB smoke, IZ, Wiggins forces him straight into a pile of DLmen for no gain...Nickel, RB swing pass, tackled for a loss of 6 by The Gambler, it's the Garry Peters Show the past few drives, they keep going at him and he keeps making them pay...3-2-6 Dime, we rush 3, Beasley beats the LT and the RB for the sack, wow, that was Lawrence Taylor-like, loss of 12...PUNT
6th drive, 9:47, UNC 25, 1st and 10, 20-0 Clem
Nickel NB smoke, 5 yard hitch completed in front of Peters who makes the tackle, still picking on him...Nickel, OZ, Steward turns it back inside for SA but he is late getting there, gain of 8...
1st and 10, UNC 38, Nickel, sweep to Hood, Lawson gets hooked and loses contain, Smith brings him down for a gain of 10...
1st and 10, UNC 48, HUNH, nickel, WR screen at Peters, dropped, and if he'd have caught it, it would've been a loss of 4, incomplete... HUNH, Nickel WLB smoke, good pass pro by UNC, Y stick complete in front of SA for 8, SA took a Tampa 2 type drop for some reason, coverage was rolled to the 3 WR side, Peters was left backside in man...113 personnel on 3rd and 2, Nickel exotic zone blitz, somewhere Dick LaBeau is smiling about this call from BV, double bullet stunt from TS and SA, ALL FOUR DL dropback into coverage, hilarious, Williams hits the outside WR on a hitch, Mac is playing off and then misses the tackle, first down, gain of 10...
1st down, CU 30, this is their 1st first down in our territory, Nickel, power sweep to Hood, blownup by Beasley in the backfield who then gives up on the tackle and lets him squirt out for 3, terrible wrap up by Beasley...HUNH, Nickel, fake the jet sweep, then checkdown throw to Switzer, missed tackle by Steward in the backfield, gain of 2, tackle by Tank...HUNH, nickel, Crawford and Beasley get great jumps off the line, Crawford misses the sack, Williams scrambles for the 1st down, gain of 8...
1st and 10, CU 16, 1st redzone opportunity for UNC, Nickel WLB smoke from the slot, Beasley is doubled but almost gets there, fade to the endzone is caught over Mac by Hollins, Mac had great position but was late on ball recognition and the taller Hollins jumped in front of him and made a sick catch for the UNC TD.
Lazy series there. Poor fundamentals by multiple players out of nowhere. Again, we show that we only play mentally sharp when we feel it necessary.
7th drive, 3:52, UNC 8, 1st and 10, 20-7 Clem
Nickel, Sweep, run down by Steward on a scrape, gain of 4...HUNH, Nickel WLB smoke, press coverage, fade route thrown on the outside, Peters has him well covered, incomplete...HUNH, Dime, we rush 3, it's the same man to man quarters look from FSU, Williams has time but nowhere to throw and Lawson gets him to commit intentional grounding in the endzone...SAFETY
8th drive, 1:35, UNC 15, 1st and 10, 22-7
Trubiski comes in at QB for UNC, Nickel, quick fade to Bug, Peters is all over it, incomplete...Nickel WLB smoke, pocket collapses immediately, Trubiski escapes and gets 9...HUNH, Nickel, QB sneak, 1st down...
1st down, UNC 25, HUNH, nickel, IZ for no gain, Timeout UNC...false start UNC, 2nd and 15...nickel, Trubiski hits the TE on a drag over the middle for a first down, we let him do that to run clock/force a TO...
1st down, UNC 35, HUNH, nickel NB smoke, huge pressure on Trubiski, he throws it right into Peters hands and he drops it...nickel C1, deep throw to Switzer who had beaten Smith deep, overthrown incomplete...Dime, 3 man rush, quick hitch to Bug for 5...PUNT
I'll tell anyone that will listen that Michael Dean Perry is the most dominant defensive player I've ever seen at Clemson. To think that at some point this year, Vic Beasley is probably going to be the all-time sack leader at Clemson is a major accomplishment for a guy who didn't even start until his 4th year in the program. Now, if you're younger, I can assure you that Perry was still the better overall player (and was the AFC Defensive Player of Year in 1989 in the NFL and a 6 time pro bowler), but, in a span of the past few years where we seemed to lose out on multiple elite level DEs, Beasley became the diamond in the rough that we had to have in order to resurrect the defense.
Hello, Garry Peters. That was the best half of football Peters has played at Clemson. The light really does appear to have turned on for him. What I like most about him right now is that he's a blue collar CB. He is physical and aggressive and his one step change of direction is NFL level. I can't wait to see him against GT. This is a guy that Saban wanted at Alabama who spent the better part of four years in the doghouse here at Clemson. Now, in year 5, he appears to have arrived. He should start from here on out. This was quite a display by him. Major props.
We did not run our base package at all in the first half which means that I did not see B.J. Goodson in there once. Hopefully, we can get him some time at MLB with the game in hand.
All in all, this was another dominant defensive performance in the first half. 8 drives for UNC. We gave up 7 points and notched a safety. Just too much athleticism by us playing focused for all but one drive in the first half. With two HUNH teams going at it we were on the field a good bit, and we were still dominant. It was an "A game" performance in the first half. Instead . of the Tommy Bowden typical letdown game, we picked up right where we left off at FSU and went to work.
9th drive, 13:51, UNC 44, 1st and 10, 22-7
Sudden change situation off the INT to start the 2nd half...Nickel bullet crossers by the ILBs, ZR action optioning Crawford, Crawford loses contain to the outside when he had an unblocked MLB to his inside, Hood beats both to the corner for a gain of 5...HUNH, nickel, speed option at Beasley, Beasley forces the pitch and Kearse runs the alley, Kearse and Hood have a major collision and I think Kearse got his bell rung on that one, gain of 4...HUNH, nickel, Williams scrambles for the first down underneath Crawford and takes a big combo hit by Mac and Wiggins that knocks his helmet off...
1st and 10, CU 42, HUNH, Nickel, play action sideline fade to Bug, Mac is all over it, incomplete, both players could've been called for PI, UNC tried to catch Mac asleep on first down, no dice...HUNH, Nickel WLB bullet, RB swing action to the left, with a beautifully designed tunnel screen to the right, Steward is on a blitz and the RB is covered by SA and pulls him away from the play, perfect call against the defense we were in, this was so easy that we're definitely going to see it again and not just in this game, figure it out BV, TD UNC, 22-14
Sudden change situation and we do not get a stop. These are momentum changing series and UNC is right back in it. Watson now goes back out after throwing a pick with pressure to get the game back in hand. Perhaps unlike some of our previous QBs, Watson quickly delivers a TD. The kid is special.
10th drive, 9:30, UNC 22, 1st and 10, 29-14 Clem
Nickel, sideline fade again, this time at The Gambler, Peters pins Quinshad with perfect technique, Gambler gets two hands on it but as usual, he can't come down with the INT...HUNH WLB smoke, play action off power sweep, hit as he throws by Steward but completes it over the middle for 7...HUNH, Nickel, offsides on Crawford, first down, huge mistake b ecause the pass was incomplete on 3rd down...
1st and 10, UNC 34, Nickel, play action off ZR, Beasley forces a bad throw, incomplete...HUNH, Nickel, Beasley gets a great jump but Williams somehow gets it to the RB on a swing for 8, tackle by SA, CLIPPING called on UNC, 15 yard penalty, still 2nd down...Nickel, OZ, Crawford sets the edge perfectly, nowhere to go for the RB, Crawford gets him for a loss of 5, gorgeous...HUNH, Dime, we rush 3, coverage is excellent, Williams throws it away...PUNT
Great job by the defense rebounding from last series. Just like that, momentum is ours again and we get another TD pass from Watson.
11th drive, 6:21, UNC 20, 1st and 10, 36-21 Clem
Nickel, jet sweep to Switzer, they leave Lawson unblocked and the little guy just blows by him, wow, lots of speed from Switzer there, gain of 9...HUNH, Nickel, play action off OZ, roll right, overthrows the WR, incomplete...jumbo personnel runs in late for UNC on 3rd and 1, everybody near the line for us, quick snap, we get a CB bullet stunt, beautiful play action by UNC's Williams, naked bootleg right, pass complete to a wide open TE, Kearse runs him down at the CU 5, gain of 66, Kearse blew the assignment by missing the TE run right by him on the run fake...
1st and goal, CU 5, Nickel, fade to the endzone, incomplete, overthrown, good coverage by Peters...HUNH, nickel, Inverted Veer give to Hood who barely gets the corner and dives to the 1...HUNH, nickel, QB Power stuffed for no gain by Steward, poor execution by them...4th and goal, Nickel, we rush 3, Beasley pressures him out of the pocket and he rolls right, finds Quinshad in the back of the endzone for an awesome throw and catch, why pull a DE into coverage and rush 3 on the goalline against a running QB? TD UNC.
Deshaun gets his 5th TD pass as the offense looks sharp. The 3 TD lead probably seals the deal on any comeback attempt by UNC. Let's see how the defense responds in their first series with the game likely decided.
12th drive, 14:44, UNC 25, 1st and 10, 43-21 Clem
3-2-6 Dime with Boulware in the slot, Beasley is given a free release by the LT, HELLO! TUNNEL SCREEN!, Beasley forces an earlier throw this time, we have 4 guys in the vicinity but they have 3 blockers, sick cutback across the field by Switzer that leaves Kearse flatfooted, where is the pursuit to the ball to stop that??
SA gets double teamed and it's off to the races, Boulware (top center above) is too slow to cut down that angle and SA can't get free to make the play, Smith is too far back to cut down on the angle for Switzer to move and gets juked, UNC has great athletes at WR, too easy, we will continue to see this until we stop it, anytime we have 1 ILB in the box the QB will likely check to this play, let's see if we try to fool them into calling it again and blow this up...TD UNC 43-38 Clem
13th drive, 12:57, UNC 41, 1st and 10, 43-28 Clem
after a 3 and out, the defense goes back on the field looking to atone for 1 play drive last time.
Nickel, with Boulware still in there, DT loop stunt on the interior, Beasley uses an inside move this time and comes through free for the sack, loss of 7...HUNH, nickel, screen to the RB, Williams makes another good read, SA reads it so quick he passes Boulware on the playside in a full sprint, Peters gets a jam and heads up field to make the stop for a loss, well defended, loss of 3...HUNH, Dime on 3rd and 20, bubble screen, Peters fights to the outside, Kearse catches him on the sideline for a 4 yard gain...PUNT
3 and out, net yards on the drive -5. That's what I'm talking about! Great response by the D when the going gets tough, even though, they shouldn't have put themselves in this position anyway. Nevertheless, the fire was snuffed out.
14th drive, 5:56, UNC 42, 1st and 10, 50-28 CLEM
We can go ahead and take a deeper alignment and dare them to run now and I would start getting the #2s in there as well.
Nickel, Williams drops one in over Anthony's head to Switzer for 20, good push by Jarrett up the middle, we still have SA in there?...
1st and 10, CLEM 38, HUNH, Nickel, we don't get set before the snap and we're not taking the deeper alignment, fake ZR and throws the bubble screen, Peters loses the edge and he gets 9, run down by Boulware...HUNH, Nickel, IZ to Hood, great double team on Jarrett opens up a hole, SA fills B gap, Boulware can't get a backside fill, gain of 19...
Put the 2s and 3s in! These guys are mailing it in now. 1st and Goal from the 9, HUNH, Nickel, Timeout Clemson...Nickel, ZR, Boulware can't get there on the scrape exchange with the DE, easy TD UNC
Boulware may not be fast enough to play LB on this level. UNC specifically went at him and he was late getting there on 3 plays in a row; all for big gains
15th drive, 4:01, UNC 24, 1st and 10, 50-35 CLEM
Alright can we get the backups in so I can evaluate some of them for everybody?
Backups are not in, Nickel, RB swing, Mac goes for the splatter behind the line and misses, Crawford cleans it up, SA is moving at half speed (GOODSON PLEASE), gain of 7...HUNH, Nickel, false start UNC...2nd and 8, Nickel, Tunnel Screen and we have the WR surrounded, incomplete, good job...HUNH, dime on 3rd and 8, we rush 3, dig route caught in front of Mac (who is also in half speed mode), gain of 20...
1st and 10, UNC 46, false start UNC...1st and 15, Nickel, offsides CLEM...1st and 10, Nickel, deep out to Quinshad who pulls it down in front of Kearse, gain of 26...
1st and 10, Clem 28, HUNH, Nickel, tried to run a bubble screen on The Gambler but he was all over it so Williams throws it away, should've been ineligible man downfield or intentional grounding...Nickel, Beasley hits Williams as he throws, still completes it to Quinshad, who pushed off nicely, on a curl in front of Peters. Gain of 13...
1st and 10, Clem 15, Nickel, 7 in the box as Smith comes down, IZ, Smith gets him for a gain of 1...Timeout UNC...Nickel, play action pass, good coverage, good rush, thrown away, HOLDING UNC vs. Jarrett...2nd and 15 at Clem 20, HUNH, Nickel, fade to Switzer INT by Robert Smith. Game. Set. Match.
DeShaun Watson now has enough attempts to qualify so he is the new #1 IN THE NATION in passer rating at 212.70 ranked ahead of Marcus Mariotta with 202.35. For perspective purposes, Jameis Winston's passer rating is currently 163.18 this year and was 184.85 in his Heisman season last year. Watson is also #1 in the nation in yards per attempt averaging 11.9 ypa. Watson's TQBR is 90.9, which has him 2nd in the nation behind Baylor's Seth Russell. For perspective purposes, IF this holds, this would put him as having the 4th best season ever behind Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Sam Bradford. It has been quite the debut for our QB this year.
15 possessions and 35 points for UNC with a safety by us. That's 2.2 points per possession, which is very good (top 25 nationally), but an underachievement based on the level of talent I'm seeing out there.
We gave up 8.0 yards per pass attempt, which was our worst outing of the year so far. This was largely because of the two Tunnel Screen TDs and the bust by Kearse on the TE. We dropped to 31st in the nation in yards per attempt after the game.
We continued to be salty in the run game allowing just 2.8 yards per carry. Because of the huge 4th quarter from UGA, we are still only ranked 43rd in yards per carry. That number should get better with each passing week.
On offense, Clemson averaged a terrible 2.1 yards per carry in the run game. However, we averaged a ridiculously good 11.2 yards per pass attempt. We are currently ranked 9th in the nation in yards per attempt at 9.6 ypa. For perspective purposes, last year's team with Boyd, Watkins, and Bryant averaged 8.8 ypa.
We are ranked 2nd in the nation in tackles for loss currently with 9.50 per game.
The eye test says...
This was not pretty on the scoreboard, but I believe this was a better defensive performance than we had against Florida State. We are actually much improved on defense from where we were at Georgia and we're getting better on a weekly basis. I'm not ready to go ape over the tunnel screen yet. It's one play. We need to rep this play in practice until they get it right and hopefully recognition and athleticism will take care of the rest. If this becomes a recurring issue like "QB Draw" did with Steele's system, then that's on BV, and he should be called out for it. However, I almost guarantee that it won't.
This Tunnel Screen weakness defensively really goes back to that middle screen that Georgia ran against us. The defensive line needs to realize that the OL don't lie. When you get punched once and released, it's a freakin' screen. Do not chase the QB, you are not getting a free sack, he let you go for a reason. Recognize what they are doing to you, yell "screen," redirect, and smash that WR for coming inside. If the angle for the cutback inside is minimized or not there at all, bad things will happen for the opposing offense. If a DL or CB hits the WR in the mouth right after the catch, all of the sudden, a negative becomes a positive.
On the Tunnel Screen, the WR catches the ball right at the LOS. On both Tunnel screen TDs, there was a DL within 1 yard of the WR that was close to tackling him for no gain, but he didn't make the play. This can be fixed with better recognition. The CBs need to recognize this play better as well and beat the OL to the WR with speed. The playside DE is blocked as normal on this play but, if the playside DE hears "screen" or reads the play, this can be a pick 6 by him or force a sack/fumble/INT by getting in the throwing lane. We were 1 step away in read/reaction time from stopping this play and we blew it up when they ran it at the end of the game.
The effort level was bad at times in this game. We've seen that all year. I don't think it was fatigue in this game as much as it is, "we got this. I don't need to go full speed." When called upon the defense delivered.
The concern is that lack of a killer instinct that seems to have plagued Clemson for many years. We do not step on the throat of the opposition and once again, we allowed a team to stay in the game longer than they should have. So, we did not learn our lesson from FSU. However, as the offense improves, I hope that we aren't as reliant on the defense to completely dominate the opposition. The goal for the rest of the year is to continue to get better, win the rest of our games, and be ready to end the streak in Death Valley at the end of the season. Hopefully, this was the first step towards a 9 game winning streak that could propel us into a New Years bowl game against a marquee opponent where we could have a chance at an Elite Level Season.
Game Ball: Garry Peters
All American Level Performance: Vic Beasley, Garry Peters, Stephone Anthony (Just some really impressive play out of these three)
All ACC Level Performance: Corey Crawford (Crawford has really stepped up his game this year. He is such a good edge setter that I think he was sorely missed against UGA and possibly could've been the difference in the game even though Barnes was solid. Crawford is so dominant in the edge run game. I'm not sure there is a DE in the ACC that is better than the two we have), Grady Jarrett (along with Beasley and Anthony, he would be a shoo-in for All ACC honors right now), DeShawn Williams (great game for him. Lot of fight and hustle. He's playing his butt off), MacKenzie Alexander (he's got the talent to play at this level every week. He gave up a play or two late in the game but he delivered against 2 of the best WRs in the ACC in back to back weeks).
Solid: The rest of the Clemson defensive personnel except for...
Less than solid: Ben Boulware (I'm not sure he has the speed to play on this level. We said the same thing about Spencer Shuey though and he proved us wrong, so we'll see if his football IQ can get better. He is still one of the best special teams players so even if he gets passed up next year by one of the young LBs, he is still great "organizational depth" to have on the team).
Past Game Balls: Robert Smith (Georgia), Stephone Anthony (SC St., FSU)