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Defensive Review: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This is long and I encourage you to read this installments.  The better the opponent, the more detail I'm going to provide. I'm also making a conscious effort to keep it as understandable as possible for the casual fan. However, if you want to learn, you still 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.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody! Hope all of you have a wonderful day and an even better weekend (wink wink)!

I hate to start a Thanksgiving review off on a sour note but, I'm sour over a certain issue.  I am disappointed with our OC and HC. I have not been very critical of the coaching on either side of the ball this year but that's about to change right now.

The decision to make Watson the primary runner against GT was unnecessary at best and could've set the program back until 2016 at worst.  If you missed the coaches comments on the subject, the reasoning behind running Watson is that they taught him how to fall in practice, he needs to show that he is a threat running the ball, they need to get him mentally and physically into the game, and that the safeties were back and play calls determined that he run it.

That's interesting because you can have him be hit in practice in a controlled environment and you can also gameplan to attempt to minimize contact instead of forcing it.

At the time of Watson's injury, we hadn't even tried to throw it deep and Watson had been successful throwing against deep safeties this year.  That's what Watson gives you over Stoudt, not just a better runner but a QB that can challenge the safeties deep. Running the QB AND throwing deep works together to challenge all areas of the field and keep the defense honest.  Doing one or the other exclusively does not (ie. Rob Spence 101). It doesn't take Bear Bryant to know that one of those ways guarantees your QB gets hit and one doesn't.

It is beyond important for the Clemson program that Watson stay healthy as all of our eggs are in the Watson basket. Anybody can see that the dropoff is massively severe at QB right now.  Clemson is a team that can play with anybody when Watson is in the game and is just a slightly-better-than-average team with Stoudt in there. If he can't throw it downfield with his injury, then we sure don't need him out there running it. The success of our program next year is tied to his health.

Anybody who buys that as a solid plan to allow Watson to carry it 7 times in the 1st quarter is short-sighted.  Yes, the outcome is on my side there but when you look at it from all angles, it's even bigger than that.  So you can understand in detail, here's why Dabo and Morris should be taken to task for this decision.

What we know is:

As Mike Patrick said on the first snap of the game, "Watson is a good runner, but he is a spectacular passer."

The offense goes from electric to poor when he goes out.

Watson has a skinny freshman frame that is not typical of a QB that can hold up to a physical pounding.

He sprained his MCL last year in high school.

He broke his collarbone in the spring.

He broke his finger in October.

He got hurt running the ball in his third carry against UL.

GT was his first game back from a month layoff.

Heading into the game, our RB had back to back 100 yard games.

With GT allowing 7.2 yards per pass attempt (76th) and 5.09 per rush attempt (108th), we have the luxury of trying to attack them while minimizing risk to Watson.

The "QB as the primary runner" is not the MO of our offense.  Most of our Zone Reads are designed so that they know who the ball carrier will be pre-snap. The most carries Watson has ever had in a game is 13. Tajh Boyd had only 3 games in his (40 game) career where he carried it 20 times. Anyone who tells you that the QB carries the ball 20 times in our offense isn't knowledgeable about our offense.

Most importantly on this list, though, is that a major injury to Watson could potentially set the program back until 2016. So, yea, I'm not happy with this unnecessarily risky decision.

Now that's one part of it but, in case you have a short memory, here are the past few starting QBs that Dabo has been associated with as either the head coach or as a member of the offensive staff.

Cullen Harper- 6'3" 225 pounds. Was the top Senior QB in the nation heading into 2008. Ran the ball for a TD against BC late in 2007. Injured his shoulder. Was never the same.

Wily Korn - 6'1" 200 pounds. "best QB signing in Clemson history" at the time.  Broke his collarbone against Furman. Piece of bone went into his shoulder. The staff said he was ok but he was never the same.

Kyle Parker- 6'0" 200 pounds. 4 star QB that started as a redshirt freshman. Got hit running it against Auburn.  Broke his ribs. Never the same. Switched to baseball full time.

Tajh Boyd - 6'1 220-245 pounds. Used as a primary short yardage back. Tough. Had the FB frame and didn't get seriously hurt. Although, reports are that he wouldn't have played the next week after the LSU game if there was one.

Cole Stoudt - 6'4" 225 pounds. Injured shoulder. Replaced the injured Watson. So far, forced to tough it out and has regressed over his Senior year.

DeShaun Watson - 6'3" 190 pounds. Electric arm and advanced ability to read defenses.  Sprained MCL last year in high school, Injured clavicle in the spring costing him the QB competition. Broken finger during the season, missed a month.  Sprained LCL in first game back.

So, if you're doing the math, that's 5 QBs that missed time or were debilitated by injury and only 1 that wasn't since 2007.  Risk of QB injury is real and needs to be thought about when devising a gameplan.

The third part of this is the schematic battle from the defensive side by our opponent.  This isn't a "play it in a vaccum" situation when you have a nicked up QB that is as good as DW. If I'm a defensive coordinator with a struggling defense, and I'm facing the NCAA leader in "yards per attempt" who's also coming off injury, I scheme accordingly.  I'm being paid 6 figures to win games. I'm not blinking first and honoring Watson's running ability as his primary weapon even if he was healthy.

Watson's best weapon is coverage recognition and passing. My defense is already prone to giving up big plays in the passing game (ranked 91st in 20+ yard pass plays given up) and I'm not bringing the safeties up.  I'd rather let him run and take the risk that 1.) He'll turn it over or 2.) They'll stop running him.  I can almost guarantee one of the two is going to happen. Don't throw me in that briar patch.

I would hope that my guys get a chance to rattle him into mistakes and test his health.  Please carry the ball in the wrong hand so we can slap it out.  Please stiff arm my players with your injured hand. Please carry the ball in your injured hand so I can hit that too.   Please carry the ball in your good hand and break your fall again with your injured hand. Either way, I'll take it.

Some guys are just brittle and Watson profiles, so far, as one of those guys. Because of that, as we see in MMA and boxing, as a player takes an injury in one area, other areas become compromised when he's overcompensating for the initial injury. Also, as we see more of in football and basketball, a layoff lends itself to increased injury risk in the legs.  So why would we, for the first time all year, pick this week to let a defense (and a bad one at that) dictate what we do with Watson in the run game?  I can't answer that so, I decided to review the first few drives where Watson was in and take a closer look at how this unfolded.

OFFENSE: 1st drive, CU 25, 15:00 0-0

QB lead draw vs. C2 5 Under, Watson doesn't follow his blocker, takes two hits, no gain...rollout, pass to Artavis Scott on a hitch vs. C2 5 Under, dropped...swing to Gallman vs. LB X Bullets man, complete, tackled by the Safety for no gain...PUNT  (Safeties were up and in man on a passing down. Certainly the offensive staff saw this).

One of the things Morris said was that Watson's first throw was high and he wanted to run him to get him into the game.  Well, Scott got two hands on that throw. It was more of a drop than a bad pass. It was certainly a lot more of a drop than Peake's tip that was intercepted by Georgia State and Dabo called that a good throw. Who knows what the truth is there? All I know is that the throw was not a gamechanger where you need to switch the offense into making the QB the primary rusher.

Defense gets a fumble and we get the ball back.

2nd drive, CU 49, 0-0

ZR vs. C2, keeper by Watson, DE crashes on RB, LB has QB on scrape exchange, they want Watson running it of course, gain of 4...QB Blast H Lead, Watson gets held up and takes a really hard shot,

Of course they are going to try and punish him for running it.  Ed Cunningham pointed out how the tackler was "leading with his head on a defenseless player and better watch out." What he won't say is that Watson has a bullseye on him and is going to be taking shots like this until he can't take anymore. GT knocks him out, they probably win.  This was worse than Robert Smith's hit but the QB is considered a RB in this situation.  This was the first shot where I'm thinking, "ok, there's going to be a price paid for this so let's calm down on the QB running," gain of 7...

1st and 10, GT 38, IZ to Gallman, bad vision, ran where his blocking wasn't, gain of 2...quick pitch to Gallman, good play call, wide open on the corner, you'd like to see him break a tackle but he didn't, gain of 7...3rd and 3, straight drop, quick out to Hump for a gain of 5, his throw looked good, first down...

1st and 10, GT 26, quick pitch again, wide open again, Gallman slips up without getting hit, gain of 4...QB Blast H Lead vs. Nickel BCB Blitz, the CB almost gets there but DW slips him, well blocked, gain of 12...

1st and G, GT 9, safety in the box, fade route, good throw but a touch wide, caught out of bounds to Williams, incomplete...safety in the box, IV, DW keeps on a give read, and he gets spun around and, he takes a huge hit by a DL in the back of the head, Mike Patrick says, "Watson was drilled in the back again. Did you see his head snap?"  ...3rd and G from the 6, two TEs, IZ to Gallman, bad vision, tries to bust it outside when the hole was there inside, loss of 4....FG is good.

Watson got knocked around that series and is met by Trainer Danny Poole as he comes off the field. I guess that meeting is just either precautionary or coincidental.

3rd Drive, 1st and 10, 50 yd line, 3-0

Quick pitch again to Gallman, open on the corner and he takes it down the sideline for 8...PA off QB Counter, wide open 5 yard curl to Peake who gets 12...

1st and 10, GT 30, blast to Gallman, gain of 4...QB Lead Draw off PA swing to Gallman, Watson gets 5 and is hit hard again, Mike Patrick says after the play, "his hand may be alright but the rest of him is getting beaten to a pulp here." Cunningham adds, "The upside is that the QB running is hard to defend. The downside is that your QB takes loaded hits."...5 wide on 3rd and 1, QB IZ, Watson bends it left, gets the first, switches the ball to his left hand for the first time (against coaches orders), plants and sprains his LCL...

1st and 10, GT 14, Stoudt is in (Trainer administered a shot in Stoudt's shoulder before the game), QB Counter Trey off sweep to Scott, good blocking on the pull by OG and OT, well designed play, Stoudt gets 5...ZR lead keeper gets 2...3rd and 4 at the GT 7, roll right, throwback screen to the left (same play GT just ran on 3rd down), pick 6...Touchdown GT (bad snap on the XP, no good)

I really didn't learn much after scrutinizing the tape except that I didn't realize he switched hands with the ball for the first time right when he got hurt. Is it a coincidence that his injury occurred instantly after he switched hands with the ball for the first time?  I don't know.

As Morris said, it is true that had Watson made that cut, he probably scores. However, who cares about a score when we're talking about DeShaun Watson's well being?   We are more likely to win the game if Watson never runs it then if we get a score or two and he goes out.   Looking at the play calls, it's clear that the plan was to run Watson a lot in spite of this risk. All I know is that ultimately Dabo is responsible for letting this strategy fly.  This is eerily similar to the "self-scouting" and overthinking that we saw with Dabier in 2010.  I thought we were past the "they think we're going to do this, so let's surprise them and do the exact opposite," mentality. Find a way to win without jeopardizing the rest of the season and beyond.

Watson ran it just 11 times (and a lot of those were scrambles) against FSU and averaged an awesome 9.3 "yards per attempt" throwing the ball. GT allows the exact same number in "yards per attempt" as FSU (7.2) but we felt we needed to run the ball with the injured QB to be effective throwing?  Not buying that one. There has to be another reason and it better not be to try to "out Xs and Os" Paul Johnson at his own game. Some of those shots he took were hits you just don't want your QB to take even if he's healthy.

Bottom Line:

We risked a shot at the Orange Bowl, the SC game, and the 2015 season prognosis to "out Xs and Os" the 103rd (ypp) ranked defense. Had we given GT a chance to stop us without running Watson, and then they did stop us, this decision may have made a lot more sense. We didn't do that though and that's why this is one of the strangest decisions I've ever seen. Even after watching Watson get "beaten to a pulp," they kept running him. What did they think was going to happen? You either stop running him at all when he gets slightly hurt (which ends any schematic advantage gained by running him in the first place) or he eventually gets seriously hurt.  I do not blame Watson for trying his best to get every yard he can or disobeying the coaches to switch hands with the ball.  I fault the head coach and offensive coordinator for allowing him to be repeatedly and unnecessarily put in that risky situation.

Here is a key for my shorthand in alphabetical order in case you need to refer back to it as you read this: BCB = Boundary Cornerback, Blast = FB lead play in the C gap with a kick out on the DE or seal on the LB. Boss - Both on Same Side (ILBs blitz the same side.) 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."  Diet 4-3 - 4-3 alignment with Nickel personnel. 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. FCB = Wideside or field cornerback, Fold = OL1 blocks the man in front of OL2 and OL2 loops around OL1 to get the playside LB. HU = Hurry Up.  HUNH = Hurry Up No Huddle. Iso = FB lead play in the A or B gap. IV= Inverted Veer. IZ = Inside Zone or Zone blocked play inside the tackles. Jailbreak - 7 or more blitz.  LOS = Line of Scrimmage. man = man to man.  OZ = outside zone run or zone blocked play off-tackle.   PA =Play Action, 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 Sluggo = Slant and Go.  Smoke/Fire- S, NB, LB blitz from the outside D gap.  Soft Coverage - CBs/NB playing well of the WR until he gets to the 1st down line. Stretch = zone blocked run just inside the last offensive player on that side.  Student Body Left/Right = FB lead play to the D gap with all uncovered linemen pulling.  Stack - the 3 LBs are stacked behind D linemen.  Stalk - WR blocks CB in front of him. Sweep = FB/ H-B lead play to the D gap.    TFL = tackle for loss. TO = triple option, Trap - playside DT is left unblocked, backside OG pulls and takes him out, RB runs underneath. TT stunt = one DT crashes on a slant and the other DT loops around and fills the hole he just left. Whip - WR starts in and pivots out

Coach/Player shorthand:  BB = Ben Boulware, BV = Brent Venables, DeFinger = DeShaun Williams, KW = Korin Wiggins, Mac = MacKenzie Alexander, OD = Dorian O'Daniel, Tank = Cordrea Tankersley, The Gambler = Garry Peters, The Fire Ant = Martin Jenkins, SA = Stephone Anthony, TS = Tony Steward

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.

Thoughts within a play will be separated by a comma (,)

Each plays will be separated by an ellipsis (...)

First downs separated by a paragraph

Comments of a drive will be done in italics

Well  we heard some good old fashioned chirping by GT fans heading into the game about their offensive prowess. My thought process on the message boards during the week is that their offense is good...damn good.  However, we're better on defense and while I think they will hit some big plays on us, I also think they will not have long sustained drives because we will get them off schedule with no gainers and tackles for loss. We're quicker off the ball than any team they have faced and we have the tackles for loss numbers to prove it.

Plus, from a talent standpoint, outside of #92 for VT (and #90 and #15 for FSU later on), the six or seven best DL they will see all year might be rotating in and out on our roster in this game. As I posted, with Watson back for us, I feel like this should not be a close game. I like us to win big.

1st QUARTER

1st Drive, 13:42, GT 36, 0-0 Clem

4-3 bone (You can see above that our OLBs are stacked at 3 yards depth shading the outside of the DE and the MLB is at 6 yards depth in the bubble between the DTs, FS and SS are at 7 yds in a tight C2), triple option, give on the dive, destroyed by Grady Jarrett, no gain...4-3 bone Sam bullet, PA off TO, OL blocks down well on the blitz, the throw is out quick to Smelter on a post, Mac was beat, then recovered and got a hand in there, incomplete...4-3 bone on 3rd and 10, straight drop, Beasley almost get there backside, jump ball on the sideline is pulled down by Smelter, perfect throw and awesome catch in front of Mac, gain of 19...

I wondered how Grady Jarrett would handle the cut blocks and on the very first play he gets off one and makes a tackle for no gain.

1st and 10, CU 45, 4-3 bone (we back off Smelter now and get a safety over the top), TO wideside, good down block on DeFinger, pulls, settles, pitches after a force by Beasley, Peters gets run off by the WR, lots of green there and the RB was very fast with ball, Kearse turns it in and makes the play for a gain of 6...4-3 bone, TO dive, blown up by DeFinger (As a true celebration artist, we don't get the finger celebration right at first. Instead, we get him standing at attention giving himself a round of applause, kind of a Kanye meets Barry Horowitz kind of move), no gain...4-3 Under on 3rd and 4, TO wide, multiple front 7 guys getting off blocks and in pursuit, this play is doomed, Goodson forces, SA is going to splatter the RB so the RB puts it on the ground, recovered by Goodson, FUMBLE RECOVERY

This is really an awesome matchup to watch and of course, nerve wracking. It's strength on strength. The speed and precision of the GT offense and in particular, the QB, is high level.  We're doing a bunch of slanting up front. I'm not mentioning it as much because it's happening so often.

2nd Drive, 6:30, GT 16, 3-0 Clem

4-3 bone quarter, quarter, half (still deep safety over Smelter), straight drop, good coverage, pressure by DeFinger and Jarrett forces him out of there, footrace with TS and Beasley, TS shows off the great speed and gets him for a loss of 1...4-3 bone, QB Lead with B and A back, DeFinger gets pancaked, Jarrett cut, uh oh, A back whiffs on Goodson, tackle for no gain by Goodson, Jarrett and Crawford...4-3 Under on 3rd and 10, roll right, throwback screen left, don't screen The Gambler, Gambler gets him for a loss of 4...PUNT

They're trying to catch us napping on 1st down like every team we've played has since BC.  -4 rushing yards and 10 total yards in the 1st Quarter for GT.

2nd QUARTER

3rd Drive, 13:13, GT 22, 6-3 GT

4-3 bone showing OLB bullet blitzes, TO, Watson crashes inside and gets blocked down which opens a hole for the dive, Goodson gets him for a gain of 4, we have OLBs taking dive and MLB scraping to QB on that one...4-3 Under, Watson crashes again, so does Lawson, they stop the dive, QB pulls it, Goodson forces pitch, Kearse turns it in, SA gets blocked and then misses the tackle, Goodson gets him for a gain of 12...

1st and 10, GT 38, 4-3 bone, TO dive, nice blocking by them, gain of 5...4-3 base, TO, SA and Goodson are on dive so that's a bust, I'm guessing this is on Goodson

QB pulls it, Watson gets through to force the pitch but Barnes is on QB, nobody home on the pitch man, uh oh,

Snoddy has it on the corner with room,

Snoddy falls down at the 15 in front of Kearse and Mac, gain of 46...(GT had 28 yards of offense before that play)

1st and 10, CU 15, 4-3 bone, HU, TO, Watson clogs the middle, Goodson has dive but gets lodged in there and can't get out, B back bends it outside, SA runs him down at the 9, geez Goodson that's two in a row, gain of 6... 4-3 base, TO, Beasley knifes in to hit the B back in the ankles, Jarrett and Watson clean it up, no gain...4-3 Under, TO give to the B back, Jarrett and Watson eat it up, no gain...FG IS GOOD.

Good job tightening up in the redzone and holding them to a FG. They got their big play but couldn't sustain the momentum to get it in the endzone. We're playing winning defense so far.

We go 3 and out on offense. We don't need that today as it plays into GT's hands.

4th drive, 7:45, GT 24, 9-3 GT

4-3 bone, QB Counter Sweep, Crawford beautifully sets the edge (as usual) and Goodson gets him for a loss of 2 (Crawford is banged up on the play)...4-3 Under MLB bullet, boot left, cut off by Goodson, some pressure, jump passes a duck to an open RB on a circle route, juggles and catches it, Green misses the tackle, bulldogged by a hustling Lawson, gain of 16...

1st and 10, GT 38, 4-3 bone, Lead Option Left, pitches to the RB, Kearse gives ground on the arc block, SA cleans it up for a gain of 5 (Snoddy clearly breaks his leg on the play)... Did they bring the field in from the set of The Hunger Games?  People are falling out left and right with leg injuries...4-3 bone, BB in the boundary slot with twins, Sweep to the boundary, BB gets cut on the seal, RB takes it OOB for a gain of 3...4-3 bone OLB bullets on 3rd and a long 1, QB Lead Dive, gain of 3...

1st and 10, 50, Dorian O'Daniel in, 4-3 bone, TO wide, OD plays dive to QB perfectly and takes both away, Lawson is there for the pitch and forces the RB outside into the arms of Mac who had great outside leverage, loss of 2...4-3 Under WLB Smoke, Counter Option Boundary, Lawson forces pitch, BB has a great read and then a bad tackle but gets enough of him to get him down for a gain of 4...4-3 Under WLB smoke on 3rd and 9, straight drop, back shoulder fade is well covered but well thrown and caught by the WR on Mac, tough play to defend but at least make a play on the ball...gain of 15

1st and 10 CU 34, 4-3 Under, TO wide, give to the FB, tackle by OD for a gain of 3...4-3 bone, wide set by the OLBs, rolls wide and throws a jump ball to Smelter, incomplete, Mac was on him like glue on that one...4-3 base on 3rd and 7, straight drop, Mac's on an island with Smelter, you can see this fade coming a mile away, thrown high, incomplete...48 YARD FG IS MISSED

They made the plays on 3rd down to keep the drive moving. Credit GT for making some great plays.  I really like OD's speed out there. He covers a lot more ground on the corner than Goodson and he might read the play better as well.  GT decided to test OD and see if he could tackle Sinjin Days on the dive and he did tackle him but also got drug for 3 yards. Still, I'll take that.

3 and out for the offense again.

5th drive, 1:30, GT 31, 9-3 GT

OD still in, 4-3 Under WLB and NB smoke, rolls wide into the blitz, can't get it to Kearse's man on a hot route, tries to run away from pressure, sacked by OD, good speed again, loss of 10... 4-3 Under WLB Smoke, QB draw,  snuffed out by Lawson, loss of 3...NO TIMEOUT BY CLEMSON on 3rd and 23 with :30 left...3-3-5 Nickel, FB dive, gain of 5...TIMEOUT CLEMSON with :01

Halftime Thoughts

The matchup of GTs offense vs. Clemson's defense has gone about like I thought so far.  They are able to hit some big plays but we are able to penetrate and gets tackles for loss that get them off schedule. What's different about this GT offense than in recent years is obviously QB play and speed at A back.  They can throw and this QB would be hell in our system.

Having Robert Smith out in the first half didn't seem to bother us as KW and TJG were not exposed and we performed as I expected on defense.

We're not used to seeing Mac get picked on but, we're also not used to seeing Mac on an island with a WR the caliber of Smelter.  Mac got beat by him once in the first half but he also held his own. Smelter is a big dude and unlike Rashad Greene, he's getting jump balls. Defending 10 fades perfectly against a guy like Smelter ain't easy. Remember, they want to run the ball and in this offense, the better the defense, the more opportunities he gets.

We were really hurting them with the aggressive 5 man line in 4-3 Under WLB Smoke. PJ should have the remedy for that after halftime, that is, unless OD is just that good to where he can make the QB pull it and pitch it.

I would've taken the TO at the end of the half, come after the kick, and tried a Hail Mary but, I understand why they didn't.  We can't have a turnover in our own territory in a game where we can't move the ball and our defense is barely keeping us in it.  Just regroup and get a plan to move the ball.

73 rushing yards in the first half by GT. We are going to need more of the same and then maybe a trick play or turnover to get this game going our way again. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't welcome back Robert Smith.

3rd QUARTER

6th drive, 15:00, GT 25, 9-3 GT

4-3 bone, TO wide, OD takes dive, QB pulls it, I can't tell who has QB, uh oh nobody, QB turns it up, beats Smith to the corner, finally tripped up by Mac, gain of 65... longest run of the year given up by the defense.

Paul Johnson shows again why he's the master and why this offense is so difficult to defend. To counter OD crashing in on the dive, he lets his OT kick out the DE instead of blocking down like usual. The result is a big hole for the QB to run through.

What's interesting here is that Grady almost gets there from the backside and puts a stop to this.

I should also mention that there was good hustle by TS on this play to stop him from cutting it inside for a TD downfield.

1st and G, CU 10, 4-3 Under WLB Smoke, TO, give to the FB, and BOOM Grady Jarrett, gain of inches...2nd and 9ish, 4-3 Under WLB Smoke, our old friend Power Sweep, FB goes backside to cut Beasley (nice PJ), Robert Smith gets cracked out of his shoes by Smelter, Crawford sets the edge but no help inside, TS and DeFinger run him down for a gain of 5...4-3 bone BCB smoke on 3rd and G from the 5, 3 step drop and throws to Smelter on a fade smash concept from the slot, Kearse has him in man, the throw is awesome, Kearse never gets his head around, complete...TOUCHDOWN GT

PJ and GT won the first round coming out after halftime. This was not what you want with 28:00 remaining and no DeShaun Watson. Now, Stoudt HAS to make something happen.

Stoudt throws an INT on the first play.

We're in danger of getting blownout now.

7th drive, 12:38, Clem 44, 16-3 GT

Reader in for Jarrett, 4-3 bone, TO wide, give to the FB, OD rides him until TS finishes him off, gain of 4...4-3 Over WLB Smoke FS Smoke, TO, Reader and Watson get pushed around, backside LB overruns the play and gets blocked by the backside OG, give to the B back, big hole, tackle by Smith, gain of 22...

1st and 10, CU 18, 4-3 bone, TO Wide, OD forces the pull and grabs the QB, OD has trouble bringing him down, but finally gets him for a gain of 1...4-3 bone WLB bullet, TO Wide, give to B back, Watson gets crunched and Reader can't get off his block, Days gets 5...4-3 bone on 3rd and 4, TO wide, give to B back again, this time SA and Reader meet him in the hole for a gain of 2...4-3 bone tight on 4th and 2, they just try to get us to jump and we don't...FG is GOOD

Well we had to get Jarrett some rest and they beat us up on the dive a little bit on that drive. We stopped it twice at the end of the drive and held them to a FG, so that's good except we're down 16 points with no offense in sight. OD is kind of having a coming out party. He's a great natural football player. He's just so much smaller and weaker than Goodson. GT is mostly going wide and I assume we know that.

Stoudt overthrows a wide open Humphries in the endzone and we settle for a FG.

8th drive, 5:47, GT 29, 19-6 GT

Jarrett is back in with Carlos Watkins now as well, 4-3 bone Sam Bullet, Lead Option wide, Mac gets cut by the A back and gives up the corner to the other A back, geez, gain of 8...4-3 bone, Lead Option short at Mac again, this time BB defeats the arc and pummels the RB for no gain, awesome job BB...4-3 bone on 3rd and 1, TO short, give to the B back, Jarrett slants left, B back cuts right, Jarett just misses the tackle, SA and Carlos clean it up, gain of 2...

1st and 10, GT 40, PA TO short, back shoulder fade to Smelter who's covered by The Gambler, another great throw, complete, Gambler has to play over the top so an underthrown ball is almost indefensible, gain of 20...

1st and 10, CU 40, 4-3 bone Sam bullet, TO wide, give to the B back, OD is all over it, SA hits him too and gets his arm in there to pull the ball out, FUMBLE RECOVERY TIGERS, Robert Smith

There you go SA! ...Making something happen when we absolutely have to have it. Nice job.

Then Stoudt comes out and after a first down, throws a pick 6. They go for 2 and don't get it.

We're down 3 scores and Dr. Schuess is in for Stoudt. It's garbage time now.

I've seen enough. I'll spare you (and myself) the 4th Quarter.

SUMMARY:

Stats:

The Undisputed #1 Defense in the Nation, Clemson Tigers

by Total Defense and F/+

The eye test says...

Well, I know exactly how Scott Shafer felt when Dabo went for that TD at Syracuse because I'm almost feeling the same thing right now about the decision to run Watson.  So let's forget the GT game, and talk about the coots.

I really hope Watson is healthy for SC. Notice I said "healthy" and not "able to play."  I know this might not be popular right now but, if I were Dabo, I would sacrifice the potential of a 6th straight loss to SC to ensure Watson is healthy for next year...especially if I had that buyout clause. I can already tell you though that they've decided Watson is pretty much going to play. They've played their hand.

If you're wondering why, after not playing vs. GT, Tyshon Dye got the 2nd most carries in a single game this year against Ga. St, I think that's your answer.  Running Watson in short yardage is probably not going to be an option. I believe they made an effort to get "Plan B" ready.

Gallman doesn't have the vision and/or desire to stick his nose in there and run aggressively in traffic and break tackles, that is, until he saw Dye taking his job and busted one out in the redzone against GA St. It's amazing what a little competition will do. Nevertheless, the combination of both Dye and the return of some power run calls was very telling.  I think "Chadbo" thinks they can overpower this defense and take control of the game and I agree with them.

This is what they should've done vs. GT.  The ability to combine power runs with jet sweeps, bubble screens, and deep routes will return our offense back to the level of effectiveness we had last year.  That means of course, Watson has to play and he has to stay upright and in the game.  At least while he's in there, I intend on personally celebrating us kicking their behind early on just in case it all falls apart and Watson can't continue.

Now defensively, we will face quite a test. SC has a bruiser of a RB, a good passing QB, and several good options at WR.  Undoubtedly we will see Pharoah Cooper in the wildcat and we will need to win the battle up front there.  My prognosis is similar for the SC game as it was for GT. We should give up some big plays but we will be committed to stopping the run and their bubble screen game.  They are going to have to go over the top and that's what I'm most worried about (50/50 balls). I wouldn't be surprised to see a trick play or two from the HBC as well.

End the streak. Go Tigers!

GT PLAYER REVIEW:

Game Ball: Grady Jarrett (who else but the unblockable one?)

All American Level Performance: Grady Jarrett

All ACC Level Performance: Stephone Anthony, DeShawn Williams, Dorian O'Daniel

Solid: Everybody else except for...

Less than solid: Josh Watson (got pushed around a bit) and Mackenzie Alexander (his worst game so far. He wasn't terrible by any means but he struggled some in this game)

Past Game Balls: Robert Smith (Georgia), Stephone Anthony (SC St., FSU, BC), Garry Peters (UNC), Vic Beasley (N.C. St.), Jayron Kearse (Louisville), Grady Jarrett, (Syr, WF)