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Defensive Film Review: Miami

Get ready to relive an all-time classic performance by your Tigers against Miami.

A lot of backups got good reps this past Saturday.
A lot of backups got good reps this past Saturday.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This is long and I encourage you to read this installments.  I'm making a conscious effort to keep it as understandable as possible if you are a casual fan. However, if you want to learn, you still have to try even if it's only a concept or two per week that you fully digest. I'll use pictures for the pivotal plays if you learn better visually.  If you rewatch the game, or even specific parts of it, this can be used as a companion piece.  And yes, I know this is the defensive review but I always like to lead off here by discussing the offense.

Well, "Lugubrious Fanfest 2015" didn't stop with the Irish faithful did it?  Miami fans, alumni, and former players were quite lugubrious all over social media the past few days.  I think I speak for all Clemson fans in saying that we enjoy this side of a beatdown much better than the other.  With the outcry and embarrassment from Miami supporters, Miami fired Coach Al Golden on Sunday.  I thought it was classy of Miami to give Golden a new car on the way out though. Yep, it does 0-60 in 4 Quarters. Hey yooooo.

  • Miami gave us a lot of Nickel looks with 5 and 6 in the box right off the bat. They seemed to not respect Leggett's blocking ability based on their alignment.
  • We were so dominant up front that we had 2nd string offensive lineman, Hearn and Fruhmorgan, replace the Seniors, MacLain and Gore, on the 3rd drive.
  • How many games do you have to go before you figure out how to defend the speed option? For most teams it's zero. For Miami, it's 7 and counting.
  • Outside, of Deon Bush, their DBs remind me of our DBs circa 2011-2013 with the exception being that after Miami got pushed around, they got up get jawing and acting like they did something. You made a tackle for a gain of 7 after you got pushed back 4 yards, congratulations. I watch Miami's DBs and am grateful that the Tiger DBs are where they are now as far as toughness, tackling, and football IQ goes.
  • Deon Cain did not see the field in this game due to a team violation and it's unfortunate because he had just started to emerge as the talent we all thought he could be coming out of high school.
  • GHop has the ability to make plays but he is so inconsistent, I expect his reps to begin to drop even more than they have.
  • Zac Brooks showed a little toughness between the tackles in this game to go along with the new acceleration he's shown.
  • We made an effort to get McCloud the ball in multiple ways in the first half and he delivered. Has the next Artavis Scott has already arrived? I think the answer is a resounding yes.
  • If you're down 30+ points in the 2nd Quarter, and you're motivated to do further damage to your team by getting an unsportsmanlike penalty after a TD, you need to check yourself. You need to get over it, keep fighting between the whistles, and try to learn how to do your job better. Miami committed that penalty twice.
  • I like that we stayed up tempo when the #2s came in order to get them some reps going fast.

Here is a key for my shorthand in alphabetical order in case you need to refer back to it as you read this: 22 Front = Both DTs lineup on the guard. Alley = area between the OT and WR.  BCB = Boundary Cornerback, 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 (quarters) or C6 (quarter, quarter, half) = coverage scheme by the secondary. Dig route = 15 yard square in. EM = end man on the line of scrimmage. FCB = Wideside or field cornerback, Fire- S, NB, LB blitz from the outside D gap.  Green Dog = man blitz when your man stays in to block or is not in the formation. 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 coverage.  OV = Outside Veer or option play where the FB dive hits the B or C gap.  OZ = outside zone run or zone blocked play off-tackle.   PA =Play Action, PBU- Pass broken up.  Power = backside OG leads into B gap hole. Power Sweep = FB lead to the D gap with OG pulling around. Red Dog (overload)- LB and S/NB blitz on the same side. Robber - S or LB moves to take away crossing routes. Sky - SS moves up two yards, takes flat, CB and FS take deep third.  Slant Right/Left - entire DL slants to one direction in unison.  Soft = 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.  Stack - the 3 LBs are stacked directly behind DL.  Stalk - WR blocks DB in front of him. Sweep = TB/QB run, often FB/ H-B lead play to the D gap.   TE stunt - Tackle shoots outside gap and end loops around on the inside. TFL = tackle for loss. TO - Triple Option. Trap - playside DT is left unblocked, backside OG pulls to block that DT, RB runs underneath. Twist = one DT crashes on a slant and the other DT loops around and fills the hole he just left. ZR =Zone read option play.

Coach/Player shorthand:  BB = Ben Boulware, BJ = B.J. Goodson, BV = Brent Venables, Car = Carlos Watkins, Mac = MacKenzie Alexander, OD = Dorian O'Daniel, Shaq = Shaq Lawson, Tank = Cordrea Tankersley, War = Christian Wilkins

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 on a drive will be done in italics

Offensive Personnel will be listed as a 3 digit number where it is listed: # of RBs, # of TEs, # of WRs like 212, which is 2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR.

Snapshots courtesy of tigerray on youtube.


Leggett scores on the long screen play to give us a 7-0 lead.

1st Drive, M 25, 12:18, 7-0 CU

1st and 10, Shotgun 4 Wide vs. Nickel C2 5 Under (Adrian Baker starts at FCB and Mac starts at NB), straight drop, throws an out in front of BB, complete for a gain of 4...2nd and 6, Shotgun 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel, OFFSIDES Clemson on Pagano...2nd and 1, Shotgun 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel WLB Bullet, PA ZR, bubble screen throw is low and incomplete...3rd and 1, Pistol 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel Under (Goodson on the LOS), IZ, Pagano gets through and chases the RB, BJ gets blocked by a WR and sets the edge, pulling OG sets the edge, Shaq gets sealed off, BB ducks the block of the OG inside and can't trip him up, Kearse can't change direction and get back inside, Green gets juked, Dodd finally runs him down after a gain of 22...

1st and 10, CU 44, Pistol 113 vs. Nickel, IZ, Kearse and BB turn it back in to Dodd who gets the RB for a gain of 2...2nd and 8, Shotgun 104 vs. Nickel, PA IZ, double post/wheel combo on either side, QB hits WR on the wheel in front of Green, WR gets up jawing, gain of 20...

1st and 10, CU 22, Pistol 113 vs. Nickel, Power O, War Daddy gets off a block and stuffs it for no gain...2nd and 10, Shotgun 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel TT Stunt, PA Power O, tried a double move on Baker but he wasn't fooled, Kaaya has to eat it, Shaq Sack, loss of 3... 3rd and 13, Shotgun 104-2 man bunches on both sides vs. Dime of Doom, we show blitz and only rush 2, Shaq applies the pressure, QB throws the corner in the endzone, hits Green in the chest but he can't hang on, Coley gets up yapping at Green again, incomplete however, OFFSIDES CLEMSON on Shaq...3rd and 8, Shotgun 5 Wide vs. Dime of Doom Red Dog Boundary, QB recognizes the blitz and looks to that side to throw, eyeballing the WR did not do him any favors as JJ rotates over it for the pick, INTERCEPTION.

We showed Nickel against 4 WRs with Mac at NB. If that wasn't genius enough for you, how did BV know we could get pressure Kaaya with two rushers in Dime?  We haven't seen that all year and we see that on the first play of Dime in this game. That was clearly the plan going in. Could it be that their OL technique is atrocious?  I think so.

Big Watson run gets us to the RedZone and Gallman punches it in on the quick pitch. Personal foul on Miami will be penalized on the kickoff.

2nd Drive, M 25, 6:53, 14-0 CU

1st and 10, Pistol 113 vs. Nickel Sam Fire (Blanks, Bryant, and Yeargin in), IZ, BB and BJ meet the RB in the hole for a body slam, no gain...2nd and 10, Shotgun 4 Wide vs. Nickel, straight drop, checks down to a shallow crosser, tackled by BJ for a gain of 4...3rd and 6, Shotgun 4 Wide vs. Dime of Doom Red Dog, straight drop, blitzed picked up, QB throws of his back foot low but caught for a first down, gain of 9...

1st and 10, M 39, Shotgun 4 wide vs. Nickel, straight drop, Bryant beats the RT badly and pressures Kaaya, QB gets out of the pocket and throws it away...2nd and 10, Shotgun 212 vs, Nickel, OZ, Blanks fights hard to set the edge and turns it in to BB and Kearse for a gain of 1...3rd and 9, Shotgun 203 vs. Dime of Doom, straight drop, Dodd abuses the RT with speed, huge hit on the QB as he throws, called a fumble and then reviewed and corrected to the accurate call of incomplete...PUNT

Kaaya's mechanics are good and he has very good pocket awareness and presence.  His arm strength is not elite level, so in order to be successful at the next level, he needs to be even better than he is at reading defenses. Against the Dime, Kaaya is 1-4 with a pick and big hit sustained.

Zac Brooks on the plunge for a TD.

3rd Drive, M 28, 2:01, 21-0 CU

1st and 10, Shotgun 4Wide vs. Nickel, straight drop, rub route wide, QB throws to the outside route on a curl, complete in front of Baker, gain of 8...2nd and 2, Pistol 122 vs. 4-3 Under TE stunt (OD in and on the LOS), Power Sweep, OD takes on one pulling OG and sheds, OD hits RB in the backfield, gorgeous individual play by OD, gain of 1...3rd and 3, Shotgun 113 vs. 4-3 Under, War blasts the playside OG back 3 yards, Shaq sheds the OT, BJ and Shaq make the play for a gain of 2...

1st and 10, M 39, Shotgun 104 Trips Boundary vs. Nickel, no drop, QB looks to the boundary, throws a quick out to the slot off a rub, good play design, complete and out of bounds for a gain of 5 (Kaaya gets up slow)...2nd and 5, Pistol 122 vs. 4-3 Under...No snap, 1st Quarter ends

They went to some 2 TEs after going 4 wide for most of the 1st two series. As I've said before, because of our lack of a true Under Sam, 2 TEs is a good formation to use against us. However, this game we are giving O'Daniel a shot at that Under Sam spot.

2nd QUARTER, 21-0 CU

2nd and 5, M 44, Shotgun Wildcat 212 vs. 4-3 Over (Reader in), IV, Yearby at QB, QB keeps, stuffed by Reader (Welcome back, big man!) who did a great job of using his hands, no gain...2nd and 10, Shotgun 114 Trips Wide vs. Dime of Doom C2 Man under, we rush only 2, straight drop, Shaq Sack, this will be Kaaya's last action of the day unfortunately, loss of 9...PUNT

The Miami OG actually pushed Shaq into Kaaya and increased his acceleration.

Great play design vs. man coverage by ScElliot on the Counter Option pitch to Artavis Scott for the TD.

4th Drive, M 21, 8:30, 28-0

1st and 10, Shotgun 113 vs. Nickel WLB Bullet, IZ, BB gets picked up by the OG, Reader slants inside to make room for BB and the play goes to that hole, Green steps up and makes the play for a gain of 5...2nd and 5, Shotgun 104 Trips wide vs. Nickel MLB Fire, straight drop, QB tries to throw an out route at the sticks, ball batted down by Car, BJ gets a huge shot on the QB, incomplete...3rd and 5, Shotgun 104 Trips wide vs. Nickel C6, straight drop, Bryant gets pressure, nowhere to throw, QB runs to the boundary, Reader runs down the QB, BB and Dodd get in on it for no gain...PUNT

Reader showed off the NFL caliber wheels by running down Rosier who runs a 4.6.

I don't really have that much to critique so I thought I'd post the 73 yard punt here and remind everybody that this was the 2nd punt.  We had a illegal use of hands penalty on the 1st punt.  Artavis Scott had taken the 1st punt return all the way down to the Miami 40. That penalty squandered 60 yards of field position.

Miami benefits from the great punt and brings the aggressiveness to stop us for a 3 and out. We get a short punt to set them up in our territory.

5th Drive, CU 41, 5:15, 28-0

1st and 10, Shotgun 4 Wide vs. Nickel C6, straight drop, low throw to a deep out in front of Green, incomplete...2nd and 10, Shotgun 4 Wide vs. Nickel, Draw, Shaq gets his hands on the RB in the backfield but can't bring him down and loses contain, Adrian Baker gets blindsided trying to set the edge, Mac cuts the RB for a loss of 1 (we get a little on the field dust up after the play)...3rd and 11, Shotgun 113 vs. Dime of Doom Soft C2 5 Under, straight drop, QB gets hit as he throws by Shaq, ball goes up in the air and out of bounds, Carter lays a hit on the WR for good measure, Mac runs 10 yards to get in the WRs face and jaw jack, incomplete...PUNT

Miami had a brief couple minutes of momentum after the punt but they can't get points after starting the drive at our 41.

Miami switched to press coverage/rolling up and gave us a little trouble but we just went back to attacking the middle and then ran a big reverse to Ray Ray. Watson scores on a QB lead play. Miami gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a TD...again.

6th Drive, M 25, 0:42, 35-0

1st and 10, Shotgun 104 Trips Boundary vs. Nickel C1, straight drop, pressure by Yeargin (nice duck-under move) at Kaayas knees, 12 yard timing route is intercepted by Tank and returned to the house... PICK 6 TIGERS

The ball should've never been thrown. Rosier threw the ball way too late and too far in front of the WR. What was he thinking? Credit Tank for catching the ball and give Yeargin an assist.

UM gets a good return but Van Smith makes the KR pay for it. For some reason, Dabo goes ballistic on him when he gets to the sideline though.

7th Drive, M 40, 0:28, 42-0

1st and 10, Shotgun 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel (#2 DL in), Bubble Screen, BJ hustles out there to make a the play for a 4 yard gain...2nd and 6, HUNH Shotgun 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel (Huggins isn't sure where to line up), quick out in front of Tank is complete for a gain of 5...TIMEOUT MIAMI...3rd and 1, They line up and throw a Hail Mary that we knock down in the endzone...HALFTIME

Halftime Thoughts:

3rd QUARTER, 42-0

At this point, we are in serious garbage time, so I'm just going to post my thoughts about what I'm seeing out there.

8th Drive, M 25, 14:30, 42-0

The starters are back in for the start of the 2nd half and the DL stacks up Yearby in a pile on 1st down for a short gain. On 2nd down, they come out in 2TEs and run the power sweep. BJ, Blanks, and Dodd are all over that for a TFL. We give them the Dime look on 3rd down and rush 3. Rosier looks for his hot read on a seam and he's not paying attention. PUNT.

I disagree with Spielman that this was the right read by Rosier.  We showed blitz, but it never came. Therefore, there wasn't a need for the WR to break off his route or for the QB to immediately get rid of the ball. Credit Clemson's defense for confusion.

We have a nice efficient drive down the field but Davidson drops the pitch and puts us behind the sticks. We settle for a Huegel FG.

9th Drive, M 25, 8:46, 45-0

We come out playing pretty soft in coverage and they hit us with a bubble screen on first down? OD does a great job muscling the stalk block from the WR and we get great flow to the ball. Byers, War, and BJ make the stop for a short gain. On 2nd down, they go HUNH and we have trouble getting lined up but, we bring a jailbreak blitz.  Yearby takes the IZ for a first down. We weren't really set up front there.

They go HUNH again and try to hit the slant from where BJ has vacated on a blitz. BJ gets in the air and redirects the ball for an incompletion. Kearse was right there as well. On 2nd down we bring BB and BJ on bullets and they run IZ. War gets pushed back right at the last second to give Yearby a crease. BJ and War make the play for a gain of 6. On 3rd down we bring out the Dime and send both ILBs on a Fire from the boundary.  Rosier throws to a 7 yard curl but it falls incomplete. PUNT.

Both teams are playing with limited energy level at times. Rosier clearly does not have these timing routes down with his WRs just yet. That takes a while. It's not something you just dial up. It also helps that we've rattled his cage a few times as well.

Dr. Schuess and the #2s come in the game. We stay with the uptempo to get some reps doing that but we end up punting after one first down.

10th Drive, M 15, 5:25, 45-0

We bring our #2s in against their 1s. Rosier rolls out and hits Coley on an out route in front of Carter in soft coverage for 7. They go HUNH on 2nd down and we bring Jalen Williams on a bullet. The OZ play is very well defended by Austin Bryant who sets the edge and makes the tackle for a gain of 1. They flood the wide side on 3rd down and we only rush 3 and drop 8 into a C2 6-Under zone.  Nobody open and Huggins gets some pressure, so the QB pivots back to the boundary and runs for the first down.

We bring Jalen on a 1st down blitz and he gets to Rosier to get a sack.

Shaq is going nuts on the sideline for Jalen.  On 2nd and 17, we come out in Under and blitz Joseph off the corner. The LT picks up Joseph and nobody touches Yeargin.  Yeargin blasts Rosier at full speed for the sack. On 3rd and 21, we hit them with the Dime and rush 3. Rosier had all day to throw and found a WR on a comeback for a gain of about 11. PUNT.

C.J. Fuller reels off some nice runs. Seth Ryan makes a catch and then we punt it away.

11th Drive, M 9, 0:12, 45-0 CU

Rosier rolls wide on first down and throws an out to the RB who lays out but can't hang on. On 2nd down, QB throws a quick out to Coley for 5 yards in front of Baker.


On 3rd down, we bring out the Dime and rush 3. Nobody is open and the QB scrambles wide. There, he is absolutely crunched by Reader and Joseph short of the 1st down. PUNT.

Ray Ray tries to run before he secures the punt and fumbles it back to UM.

12th Drive, CU 40, 14:05, 45-0

On 1st down, we bring Fields off the corner. They run a slot wheel to the endzone and the ball is just barely overthrown and could've been caught.  He had gotten behind OD and OD was very lucky he didn't called for a PI.  On 2nd down, they come back with a bubble screen to the wide side. OD abuses his stalk block but Edmund gets cut by his stalk.  Edmund recovers to make the tackle for a gain of 5. On 3rd down we come out in a Nickel C1 and get good pressure from Reader and Rogers. QBs throw is on the money for the first down in front of Edmund but the WR just drops it.  They go for it on 4th and we bring in the Dime. Reader gets good pressure and forces Rosier to scramble. Rosier has the first and then runs backwards and gets abused by Van Smith short of the 1st down. TURNOVER ON DOWNS.

Van Smith looked like Rodney Harrison out there on that play. Awesome effort and hustle to the sideline to make that play.

Kelly Bryant is in now and we are giving him some tempo work as well. Kelly scores on a QB Counter play after a great block by Milan Richard leading him through the hole. Huegel misses the XP.

13th Drive M 25, 11:48, 51-0

They come out and run a stretch play on 1st down to the strong side.  Joseph looks like he's going to set the edge at first but the TE just turns the tables and seals him off. Van Smith does a good job running the alley and delivers a huge hit for a gain of 7.  A Miami penalty negated the play. They run the stretch play wide again, this time, to the other side. Smith runs the alley again and this time, gets the RB for a 3 yard loss. We rush 3 and drop the DE in Nickel on 2nd down. QB throws a deep out and Gibson gets there in time to deliver a big shot that knocks the ball loose and the WR out of the game. On 3rd down, we run Dime with the backups in. We rush 3 and give a C1 Robber look with Gibson as the Robber. Rosier overthrows the ball and Van Smith is in position to pick it off.  Carter was underneath in man and Smith deeper than the deepest man.  Good job by both.

Kelly Bryant takes an option keeper in for a TD.

14th Drive, M 22, 8:44, 58-0

They come out in 2TEs and we match with Under and Jalen in the bubble between the C and OT. They run a stretch play wide. The edge gets set well by Rogers but Huggins gets pushed back and Joseph gets pancaked. Our boy Smith makes the play for a gain of 4. They run an IZ play and Smith does the right thing and stays on the hash (ie. doesn't cheat up). Byers takes a double team but holds his own. Jalen and Huggins make the play for a gain of 1. We go Dime on 3rd down with a Double X blitz that gets picked up. Register knocks the ball down and almost had a pick at the LOS. PUNT

We go into run the clock out mode and punt.

15th Drive, M 25, 3:00, 58-0

They run another stretch on first down and Blanks sets the edge and makes the play for a gain of 1. Their RB gets hurt. They run a C Gap Power play and Van "The Man" is there yet again to make the play for a gain of 3. We bring in the Dime for 3rd down and blitz Carter from the wide side. QB throws a quick out that is dropped. PUNT.

We run out the clock on offense.


Stat of the Game: First Downs: Clemson 33, Miami 6

The eye test says...

Clemson dominated up front on both sides of the ball. It's just that simple.

Up front defensively, we did a very good job with leverage and hand technique in this game. The veterans, Lawson and Reader, put on a free workshop in that department.  Boulware had a couple undisciplined plays in this game but, the talent discrepancy up front was so large, we were able to clean up a lot of individual mistakes.

I've seen enough to say that Dorian O'Daniel should be our Sam. However, I did see a couple plays that drew some concern in coverage where I would pull him out in Nickel.

That couple weeks of sitting out and observing seemed to do a lot for Austin Bryant. I didn't see him make a mistake all game, and in fact, saw him begin to use his athleticism to do some damage.

Our pass rush was excellent. We did not have to blitz and could rush with 4.  Miami had only given up 7 sacks coming into the game and we were able to sack the QB 5 times. Miami was also ranked 2nd in the nation coming into the game allowing just 3.2 tackles for loss per game and we got 6 of those as well.

This was Van Smith's first action on defense and he appears to be the real deal.  From a technical standpoint I'm not sure about his hips and his backpedal right now. BV has seen him in practice but, I would not suggest that he see time at NB without seeing him display those skills.  However, his instincts are very good. His aggression and tackling are excellent.  He looks like a future starter at S or even Sam. The coaching staff has a nice conundrum to think about right now.  We're starting to approach that 80s talent level where guys you've never heard of come into games and look like studs.

We ran the Dime package 15 times in the game.


Game Ball: Shaq Lawson (He was a monster in this game and had a "raise your draft stock" type performance)

All American Level Performance: Shaq Lawson

All ACC Level Performance: Kevin Dodd, D.J. Reader, Scott Pagano, Christian Wilkins, MacKenzie Alexander, Van Smith

Honor Roll: Rod Byers, B.J. Goodson, Ben Boulware, Dorian O'Daniel, Jayron Kearse, T.J. Green, Austin Bryant, Richard Yeargin, Jeffrie Gibson

Solid: Everybody else.

Less than solid: None

Past Game Balls: Scott Pagano (Wof), Ben Boulware (ASU, UL), MacKenzie Alexander (ND), Dorian O'Daniel (GT), Shaq Lawson (BC)

Now, in spite of all the back-patting Clemson has received nationally for this win, NC State can beat us on Saturday. As soon as we think we have arrived, we will lose.