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Defensive Film Review: Notre Dame

It's time to take a look back at our signature win of the season so far and see what the eye in the sky tells us.

Christian Wilkins knocks the ball out of Kizer's hands.
Christian Wilkins knocks the ball out of Kizer's hands.
Matt Cashore-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.

We got a huge win on Saturday night against a very good football team in Notre Dame. The most encouraging outcome from the win was how we won.  We won the game up front.  For many years, it was us that were left scratching our head after big games wondering why we keep losing these big games and what might've happened if "player X would've just done _______." I could go through and list all of those moments but, currently, we have the luxury of not having to look at that list and feel that disappointment right now.  Almost every member of the national media (sans Mack Brown) said that Notre Dame would win because they had the advantage at the line of scrimmage.  Instead, Clemson had that advantage.  Instead of having to depend on our downfield passing game where we run the risk of drops and turnovers, we could run the ball and they couldn't.

Clemson 2015 is, by no means, a finished product. We need depth on defense and need to continue to improve execution on offense, but this is a young team that can get better.  The very first thing the entire team needs to do is get their mind focused on Georgia Tech and not how great they are after beating ND.  They need to recognize that a very hungry Georgia Tech team is going to come in on Saturday and fight for their season.  A win over Clemson can put their season back on track and steal the same mojo from us that Notre Dame stole from them three weeks ago.  Things didn't get easier because we got past ND, they got tougher.  All of the major team goals are still achievable but, none have been accomplished.  This is uncharted territory for this group of players and I hope they realize that the battle has only just begun.

To begin, let's kill the suspense and examine the playcalling at the end of the game:

  • In the 3rd quarter when we were up 21-3, DabScElliot took three deep shots. There was the throw to Scott he would normally catch, the throw to Renfrow that drew a PI call, and the play right after that which was the throw to Peake that was intercepted. Had either of the two endzone passes have been caught, it probably would have given us an insurmountable lead and effectively ended any threat of a Notre Dame comeback.
  • With the door still open, ND got aggressive out of desperation, however, ND either fumbled, threw a pick, or got sacked (which often leads to fumbles) about every four plays in the 4Q (5 of 22). Over an entire game in these conditions that could create 15+ possible turnover opportunities. That is the risk game you have to play down three scores. So, is it luck that they fumbled on the 2 yard line or is it luck that they only lost one of their three fumbles in the 4Q?
  • Our INT on the fade to Peake was thrown on 1st down at the ND 33 with 1:01 left in the 3Q. If we even get an incompletion there, more likely than not it changes the way the 4Q played out. So, I understand the logic of aggressively going for the jugular with a 50/50 ball. However, think about what would have happened if we didn't.
  • If we don't turn the ball over, the most likely scenarios from worst to best are:

1.       We run out the 3Q and punt.

2.       We run out the 3Q and decide on either a 41-46 yard FG attempt or a 4th down conversion attempt around their 25 yard line. (I think this scenario is the most likely)

3.       We run out the 3Q, get a first down or two, and settle for a short FG making it 24-3 with 12 or 13 minutes left.

4.       We run another 3 minutes off the clock and punch in an exclamation point TD.

  • Instead, with the turnover, we ended up with a 21-9 score with 14:13 to go in the 4Q. So, if you're pro-aggressive play calling and anti-conservative play calling, be sure you factor in the bad with the good. Consider the consequences of how that INT lengthened the game and created the opportunity for ND's comeback...and cost our defense with limited depth 15+ minutes of rest including the quarter break (real time).
  • Now, do I have a problem with the fade call? No, I only have a problem with Peake not aggressively going after and fighting for the ball.
  • On our next series after ND's TD, we hit a 12 yard bubble screen to Ray Ray and then Gallman hit a 33 yard run. Gallman lost a yard on a wide carry. We then ran C.J. Fuller in the B gap and then a QB Sweep to take another 2+ minutes off the clock. 35 yard FG is good, 24-9. The only issue I have here is Fuller getting the carry instead of Brooks or Gallman.
  • When ND scores a TD in 4 plays on their next drive, it becomes a ball game again. There is 8:49 left and we're set up at our own 44 after a great kick return by Scott. We run Gallman twice. Then we try the Leggett play that we scored a TD on again and they're all over it. These are not bad play calls. They're just not great calls. This was the prime spot in my mind for that great call (aka imagination) and we missed it.
  • OC's typically have a play or two saved for situations like this. We saw this out of Petrino last week on a 3rd and 1 when he slipped the blocking back out of the diamond formation for a pass and got 15 yards. We saw the wheel route from Brian Kelly at the appropriate time. We never saw one out of DabScElliot. Is this because it was a monsoon and ball security was the decided priority or because they have simplified the playbook where they didn't feel comfortable running something they hadn't repped as much in practice?
  • The next drive, after the Goodson picked Kizer, we ran Gallman (who didn't follow Crowder and missed the hole outside), ZR where Watson kept and got 7, and QB Power to Strength (we got stuffed but DW should've followed the pulling guard) and settled for a 45 yard FG attempt that was missed. On this drive, the holes were there, we just had ball carrier error that stopped us a yard away from a 1st down.
  • The next drive started at our 4 after a ND fumble, and I have no problem with the conservative play calls here as the ball is really sloppy and we're in good position to force ND to use their timeouts. The wind and rain killed the punt and that hurt.
  • To summarize my thoughts here: The aggressive play calling from the late 3rd quarter was fine, but did contribute to leaving the door open for a possible comeback. The play calling issue in the 4Q was a lack of a situational play or two that we had saved to use in a big spot. We missed the time to strike after the long kick return by Scott and after the INT by Goodson. The conservative play calling on the last drive was smart and forced ND to use their timeouts.

Other Offensive thoughts:

  • The opening two series were beautifully called and a much better opening gameplan than we had for UL. It reminded me of Napier's first couple series against Auburn in 2010.
  • Jet Sweep motion was back this week. Thank you.
  • The opening drive against FSU last year, we missed a wide open Leggett for a TD that would've probably won the game. This time we hit it for a TD after they brought an overload blitz right to the playside. This required Watson to deliver an accurate throw with their best player on defense in his face and he did.
  • By the way, Jaylon Smith (#9) for them is a bad man.
  • ND started off playing us like Louisville did with the CBs at 7+ yards deep off the WRs. We took advantage of that in the 1st half.
  • In my opinion, Hunter Renfrow should start getting the majority of the time at 9 now. The biggest problem we have at WR is that our best players are all slot-type-guys. They're hybrid types and not true outside route runners. Scott, Ray Ray, Hopper, and Peake are best suited as the 2 and 5 guys. Peake is not a real threat as a 9 because he seems to only get open on routes with horizontal movement. With Mike Williams injured, Renfrow has shown the best downfield ball skills of our WRs and has shown enough speed to be a threat on deep routes.
  • I'm not pressing the panic button on Watson but, the cover is off the button and I'm cracking my knuckles.

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. 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. FCB = Wideside or field cornerback, Green Dog - Delay LB blitz if his man does not go out for a pass, 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 = 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 - SS moves up two yards, takes flat, CB and FS take deep third.  Slant Right/Left - entire DL slants in one direction in unison. 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.   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 and takes him out, RB runs underneath. Twist stunt = one DT crashes on a slant and the other DT loops around and fills the hole he just left.

Coach/Player shorthand:  BB = Ben Boulware, BJ = B.J. Goodson, BV = Brent Venables, Car = Carlos Watkins, JJ = Jadar Johnson, 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.

Notre Dame comes into the game undefeated and ranked #6 in the AP Poll.


We start with a crisp drive down the field ending in a Watson to Leggett TD.

1st Drive, ND 25, 12:14, 7-0 CU

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over, orbit motion, defense seems to know what play is coming, ZR give, Car gets washed down, big hole to fill for BB, Procise runs away from the hole (more likely, BB) and into traffic?, RB bounces off the pile and outside, tackle by Blanks for no gain...2nd and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over WLB Bullet, orbit motion, IZ, the ND OL is absolutely destroyed, their entire line gets pushed back three yards, wow,

240 lbs of BB carries their All American LT into the backfield to make the play, wow incredible job, loss of 5...3rd and 15, Gun 113 TE Wide vs. Dime of Doom, straight drop, we show 5 and rush 3, Shaq and Dodd both get their hands on the QB but can't bring him down, rolls right, BB misses the QB in the open field, JJ trips him up for a gain of 5...PUNT

Awesome start!  We brought the fight up front and ND got a quick power and speed check. As you can see, we're up under their pads moving them back.  That's just fundamentals. They need to adjust.   Uh, Procise is scared of BB?  That hole was 5 yards wide on 1st down and it was one on one with BB and he just didn't want it. You don't see that on the college level very often (or at least since Jamie Harper played in college every week).  Mac is following Fuller wherever he goes which puts him on the boundary at times. We'll see how Kelly adjusts to this decision by Venables.

A shanked punt gives us good field position and we turn it into another TD...this time Watson to Scott, also on a blitz by ND.

2nd Drive, ND 49, 8:33, 14-0 CU

They get a kick return to midfield. Sigh.

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over C2 MLB spy, orbit motion, PA jet sweep, straight drop, out route to Carlisle complete, tackle by Boulware, gain of 5...2nd and 5, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over WLB Bullet, OZ, Shaq sets the edge, BJ ducks under a block to sandwich Procise for a loss of 1...3rd and 6, Gun 113 bunch wide vs. Nickel Dog Wide, Shaq drops, QB hits the WR on a curl between Lawson and Tank, good composure by the ND OL and QB, gain of 7...

1st and 10, CU 40, Gun 113 4-Wide vs. Nickel, ZR boundary to the TE side, BB coming like a missile at the RB, QB pulls it late, Shaq is right there for the back to belly suplex, loss of 3...2nd and 13, Gun 113 5-Wide vs. Nickel soft C4, Tunnel Screen, bad pass, too high, incomplete...3rd and 13, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom NB Fire, rolls right, QB throws a bullet on the run, Jadar hits the WR early and he could've made a play on the ball, PASS INTERFERENCE...

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over, Power O, better blocking by them, BB and Car get him for a gain of 1...2nd and 9, Gun 113 vs. Nickel, QB Boot Right off IZ, QB throws on the run, deep ball is overthrown, incomplete...3rd and 9, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom WLB Bullet MLB X, straight drop, blitz gets picked up, QB throws high, WR can't snag it, incomplete...46 yard FG is Good

Free FG on poor kick coverage and a mental mistake by Jadar Johnson.  JJ made a great read and he might have had a shot at an INT if he played the ball. ND gained a total of -2 yards on the 6 plays that sandwiched that PI call. You can't just give points to them!

3rd Drive, ND 19, 4:09, 14-3 CU

Complacent play by the offense leads to a 3 and out.

1st and 10, Gun 104 vs. Nickel C4 (War in), straight drop, no pass rush, complete on a DIG route in front of Tank, gain of 15...

1st and 10, ND 34, Gun 113 vs. Nickel Under shift WLB Bullet, Draw, brought down by BJ and Dodd for a gain of 1...2nd and 9, Gun 114 vs. Nickel MLB Fire, PA Draw, BJ has the QB dead to rights and can't get him, QB escapes up the middle, good open field tackle by Green after a gain of 26...

1st and 10, CU 40, TIMEOUT ND...1st and 10, Gun 104 vs. Nickel WLB Bullet, IV QB Counter, Shaq defeats pulling OG's block, Shaw and Car collide for the tackle, loss of 1...2nd and 11, Gun 113 vs. Nickel SS Bullet, IZ, Green beat the OG and he and BB make the play for no gain...3rd and 11, Gun 104 vs. Nickel, QB rolls wide, throws to a shallow cross by the TE, hit hard as he caught it by Carter, almost an incredible catch by their TE, incomplete...PUNT

Wherever they send Fuller, Mac is there...even in the slot. The Under shift there was with no SAM, so the DE stayed over the TE in a 7 technique and the bubble went from the C to the TE on that side daring them to run there (also giving away a possible blitz there). On the QB scramble, you have to credit Kizer with making an awesome athletic play with his feet. That's just risk/reward for blitzing a fast QB.


We get a 30 yard drive from our own 4 that stalls just short of the 1st down marker.

4th Drive, ND 9, 11:45, 14-3 CU

1st and 10, Ace 113 vs. 4-3 Over, IZ, Shaq gets cut by the TE, OL gets to the Goodson, BJ and Kearse get Procise for a gain of 5...2nd and 5, Gun 013 vs. Nickel NB Fire, QB Power, Car makes a pile at the LOS, Blanks hustles his ass off and gets to the play from the backside, BB and Dodd stone him at the line, gorgeous, gain of 1...3rd and 4, Gun 113 vs. Nickel, motion the slot WR to the wide side, BB has to pick him up, uh oh, straight drop, quick out right in front of BB, complete and good run after the catch,  gain of 16...

1st and 10, ND 31, Pistol 113 vs. 4-3 Over Sam Bullet, OZ to the boundary, Shaq moves the TE 4 yards deep in the backfield, Procise runs backwards around it, just gets the edge, and is met head on by BB on the sideline, huge hit delivered, gain of 3...2nd and 7, Gun 113 4-Wide vs. 4-3 Over, DELAY OF GAME NOTRE DAME...FALSE START NOTRE DAME...DELAY OF GAME NOTRE DAME...loss of 15 yards thanks to the Tiger fans in attendance...2nd and 22, Gun 113 4-Wide vs. Dime of Doom, straight drop, our old friend middle screen, we only rush 3 though so to no avail, Car gets him for a gain of 4...3rd and 18, Gun 113 4-Wide vs. Dime of Doom Zone Dog, straight drop, Dodd drops, blitz picked up, QB throws to the DIG, in and out of the hands of Fuller, he had the first down if he catches it, incomplete...PUNT

Kelly definitely found an alignment advantage when he got a WR matched up on BB on the wide side. We should see that again. Hopefully we'll just move the NB over and slide the LBs to the boundary. There's been a lot more jawing out of our players than we usually see. I've seen BB, Mac, and Green getting up in some grills and I can't remember seeing that. They look legitimately upset with the player comments from ND and/or the disrespect from the media this week. We dodged a bullet with the Fuller drop. They're picking up our blitzes well. The ND OL has a high football IQ and is very cohesive.

The punt bounces off Scott's chest and a very alert Mark Fields falls on it. We return the Fuller favor with a drop on first down. We had a screen to Gallman perfectly set up but their blitzing LB forced a quick throw by Watson. We can execute that better. Gallman needs to chip the blitzer or be a receiver right now.

5th Drive, ND 14, 6:37, 14-3 CU

1st and 10, Gun 104 vs. Nickel C2 5 Under, straight drop, good pass pro, high throw on a sideline comeback route, undercut by Tank as he tries to catch it, incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 104 v. Nickel C4, straight drop, Dodd drops and we rush 3, double crossers, BJ steps up on the shallow, QB throws to the 2nd level one, complete in front of Blanks, I miss Wiggins, gain of 19...

1st and 10, ND 33, Gun 113 strength to the boundary vs.  4-3 Over, OZ to the boundary, Kevin Dodd puts on a freakin' clinic on how to set the edge, makes the play in the backfield for a 7 yard loss, HOLDING NOTRE DAME DECLINED...2nd and 17, Gun 113 4-Wide Trips Wide vs. Nickel, straight drop, good pass pro, DIG route to Fuller, complete in front of Mac for 13 yards...3rd and 4, Gun 113 4-Wide Trips Wide vs. Nickel, FALSE START NOTRE DAME...3rd and 9, Gun 113 4 Wide Trips Wide vs. Nickel MLB Spy, we show blitz but back out and rush 3, Shaq gets tackled on the edge, HOLDING NOTRE DAME...3rd and 19, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom, Draw, Dodd and Blanks miss him but Kearse cleans it up, gain of 8...PUNT

I don't understand how Blanks struggles so much in man coverage. I had hoped he was getting better. 25 minutes into the game, Will Fuller makes his first catch. The Clemson Crowd helps draw their 4th penalty of the game in this drive.

We go 3 and out on offense. Their punt returner drops the ball but falls right on it.

6th Drive, ND 23, 2:46, 14-3 CU

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over C3, straight drop, good pass pro, throws off his back foot to the curl, complete and then blasted by Kearse, gain of 8...2nd and 2, Gun 212 vs. 4-3 Over, our old friend Power Sweep, Tank sets the edge very well, BB gets blocked on the scrape, Green fills the alley and misses, cleaned up by BB and Blanks, gain of 5...

1st and 10, ND 36, Gun 113 5-Wide vs. 4-3 Over C2, straight drop, we drop Dodd to the flat, double crossers again, tries to hit Fuller on the 2nd level but Mac is all over him, no chance, some serious finger wagging by Mac in Fuller's face, lucky to not get a penalty there, incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 113 vs. Dime of Doom soft C4 NB Bullet DB Fire, straight drop, Blanks gets home and speeds up Kizer, throws to the crosser, the ball hits BB right in the hands without him having to move, and...

dropped, incomplete...3rd and 10, Gun 104 Trips Wide vs. Dime of Doom WLB Bullet MLB X, straight drop, their line picks up the blitz, all day to throw, uh oh, high throw over the head of Fuller, diving INT attempt by JJ is dropped, OFFSIDES CLEMSON on BB for getting into the neutral zone...3rd and 5, Gun 113 Trips Wide vs. Dime of Doom Jailbreak Blitz, they max protect and pick up the blitz, wow, uh oh, straight drop, deep ball over the middle is way off, incomplete...HOLDING DEFENSE, Blanks got beat by Carlisle and just held on, free first down, where is Carter?...

1st and 10, CU 49, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom soft C4 MLB Bullet, straight drop, BJ gets picked up, throws a deep out to Fuller, way overthrown again out of bounds, Mac talks to Fuller but the Ref tells him to shut up this time, incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom NB Fire Dog Wide soft C3, straight drop, they pick up the blitz again, impressive, QB pump fakes, goes deep to the post on Tank and Green, hits WR in the hands and he drops the ball, they had us there, incomplete...

If there are two threats, as a safety, you take the deepest one. Thankfully, Kizer was determined to hit Robinson on a double move and missed the three open guys to his left. This is the kind of play that can change your strategy as a DC...3rd and 10, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom Tampa 2, straight drop, QB checks it down on a pivot route, Blanks hits him immediately hard and low, Hunter is lucky he didn't get hurt there, this was the same kind of hit that injured Seckinger last year, gain of 5...TIMEOUT ND at 0:34...TIMEOUT CLEMSON at 0:34...PUNT

We were really fortunate there. We let them off the hook with the dropped INT and then should've given up a TD but they dropped it. There was a "what might've been" moment for each team.

Halftime Thoughts

So far we're doing an excellent job of out-powering them up front and keeping them off schedule.  Procise is a non-factor and they have been unable to get Fuller open to do his typical damage.

41 Rushing Yards for ND at halftime. Most of that on Kizer scrambling. 5 Tackles for Loss for CU.

Their OL is putting on a clinic in pass blocking picking up the array of blitzes and stunts BV is sending at them.  This allows those deep routes and crossing routes to develop.

Kizer is only 9 of 19 at halftime, but he is cool in the pocket and very composed. He has clearly been taught to trust his line and stand in there. His issue right now is locating the open receiver.

Mac needs to reel in the BS or they're going to hit him with a taunting penalty.


Ammon Lakip goes full-David Dunham and knocks the ball loose on the kick returner for a turnover. We came out on offense challenging the corners and then QB Power (Leggett with a nice seal!) for the TD.

7th Drive, ND 25, 14:14, 21-3 CU

1st and 20, Gun 104 vs. 4-3 Over, our buddy Power Sweep to the boundary, Shaq can't set the edge, Green gets blocked in the alley, BB hits Procise and he fumbles, TURNOVER...

BB got a forearm on the ball as he made contact.  Nice play. Fumble recovered by Kearse.

Notre Dame needs a stop here badly. This is an opportune time for us to go for the jugular...and we do, but Scott misjudges the ball on a nice throw by Watson. Huge stop for ND and missed opportunity for Clemson.

8th Drive, ND 5, 12:37, 21-3 CU

1st and 10, Ace 122 vs. 4-3 Over Slant Boundary, Counter H Wide, uh oh, this is the right call against this defense, TE knocks down Blanks, OL just washes the DL down, huge hole, BJ and BB finally get him down for a gain of 10...

The Monsoon hath begun.

1st and 10, ND 15, Gun 122 vs. 4-3 Over, IZ Slide, OG and C get to the 2nd level, BB sheds the OG and gets Procise down for a gain of 3...2nd and 7, Gun 122 vs. 4-3 Over BCB Blitz, designed roll wide, quick out to Fuller is overthrown out of bounds, Mac was on it, that was the same play UL used last week with success (Rodney Williams to Terrence Roulhac-esque), incomplete... 3rd and 7, Gun 113 vs. Nickel WLB Bullet, straight drop, BJ get juked in an arrow route by Procise, Kizer is going there all the way, complete, finally brought down by Mac after a gain of 23...

1st and 10, ND 41, Gun 113 4-Wide vs. 4-3 Over, Blanks shows blitz and Kizer looks to throw the bubble screen, not there, Kizer boots wide, run down from behind by Car, Car put a Stephan Curry move on the LG and broke his ankles, LG #56 just took a seat in the rain, great job by the whole team there, loss of 4...2nd and 14, Gun 113 vs. Nickel, IV, QB tries to keep but Procise yanks it away from him, tackled immediately by Shaq, QB had a hole there, gain of 2... 3rd and 12,  Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom C2 man under NB Zone Blitz, Shaq drops, straight drop, excellent coverage, good pass pro, Kizer gets flushed and then sacked by Dodd, loss of 1...PUNT

Kelly is stepping up the play calling big time. I think he planned to come out with these wrinkles (challenging the corner/ 2 TEs/ Inverted Veer) so that we couldn't adjust at halftime.  We stay in Over and don't go Under against 2 TEs (ie. don't move Goodson to Sam on the LOS and bring in Kendall Joseph at MLB). The "slide" in IZ slide just means that the TE accounts for the unblocked DE playside. It's supposed to look like the C gap Counter play they just ran but instead, be run in the B gap.

The Scott drop/Renfrow non-catch on the sidelines ends our offensive drive.

9th Drive, ND 37, 6:00, 21-3 CU

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. Nickel C6, PA IZ, good pass pro but Shaq gets through, misses the sack, Kizer steps up and throws a deep out, open but dropped by Hunter, incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 113 vs. Nickel WLB Bullet, they try the old "36 Trap" play against Dodd but he is too quick for that and beats the OG to the play for no gain, ILLEGAL SUBSTITUTION ND is DECLINED, Mac is slow to get up...3rd and 10, Gun 104 Trips Wide vs. Nickel, Sprint Wide, an "out and up" from the slot is picked up so Kizer just runs it, War runs him down for a gain of 8...PUNT

They had a costly drop there that put them off schedule.

On Offense, Ray Ray drops a jet sweep ball that might've scored. Then we get bailed out on 3rd and long with a PI on Renfrow's man. The Peake INT play followed that. SUDDEN CHANGE. SENSE OF URGENCY.

10th Drive, ND 20, 1:01, 21-3 CU

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over Sam Bullet, Sweep, Blanks kamikazes the line at the snap (evidently BB is teaching his techniques), the problem is that Blanks is 7 inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter than their OT so he goes flying into the WEZ after that hit, BJ miss reads it as IZ, Dodd sets the edge but Procise runs under it and there is no fill from a LB, Kearse gets stalk blocked in the alley but sheds and gets Procise for a gain of 9...2nd and 1,  Gun 113 vs. Nickel, 36 Trap again (good play call right after sweep hurts us), Dodd beats the OG even worse this time but misses the tackle 5 yards deep in the backfield (that's why you squeeze and don't go shooting back into the backfield and create a huge gap to run under), Procise cuts it up and gets by BB then uses a spin move to get by Tank, finally Car gets him down for a gain of 11, Green gets the church bells rung and has to come out...

The first down play was just the perfect call against our call.


1st and 10, ND 40, Gun 113 vs. Nickel soft C4, straight drop, nobody open, Kizer tucks and runs it up the middle, Byers gets him after a gain of 6...2nd and 4, Gun 113 vs. Nickel C4, straight drop, two posts and a wheel route on the sideline, throws the wheel route, complete, TOUCHDOWN...2 Point Conversion, TIMEOUT ND...Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over, straight drop, thrown to Robinson in the back of the endzone, overthrown incomplete, took a real shot from BJ for his trouble...NO GOOD.

We jumped into a soft 4 deep zone on 1st down that invited short throws over the middle that keep the clock moving on first down. We probably should've just stayed in that.

I think they expected run on 2nd down and just lost Procise.  My guess is that Green was in the box and supposed to have Procise but just lost him. When Kizer's eyes went to Procise in the flat, Travis Blanks changed direction toward him and then turned to run with him leaving the slot open on a post. Goodson turns to run after the slot guy as the ball is being thrown.  Blanks had no idea where Procise was when he turned and actually ran away from the sideline and created more room for Procise. It looked like Blanks was trying to play both Procise and the slot WR.  Blanks is already coverage-deficient and is now running with a limp. Where's Carter?

We get a FG as an answer their TD. We pooch the kickoff into a Defensive Lineman's hands and set them up on the 36.

11th Drive, ND 36, 10:52, 24-9

The rain has started to slow down now.

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. Nickel soft C4, straight drop, good coverage,  good pass pro, Kizer flushed out, runs for it, War gets to him and forces the fumble that bounces off Green, rolls 4 yards forward, and is pounced on by Procise, fortunate bounce for them there, gain of 19...

1st and 10, CU 45, Gun 113 vs. Nickel C6, straight drop, they try to sneak the wheel out to the other side but Tank is on it, good pass pro, Kizer completes on a double pick to the shallow cross in front of Goodson, BJ isn't fast enough to catch him, Brown gets by Mac and is just knocked out of bounds by Blanks, gain of 33...

1st and 10, CU 12, Gun 113 4-Wide vs. 4-3 Over Double TE Stunt (JJ in for Kearse), good coverage, Kizer gets flushed, War gets him by the leg but can't bring him down, Kizer runs, Blanks gets blindsided, brought down by JJ after a gain of 9...2nd and 1, Pistol 113 vs. 4-3 Over (Carter in for Blanks), QB Lead C gap Strong, Dodd sets the edge but too well and is too far outside to make the tackle, JJ doesn't adjust and hits the lead back with the wrong shoulder, OG gets to the 2nd level to get BJ, TOUCHDOWN...

We look gassed. Blanks is already limping around and then he gets some sauce put on his ribs. The guy is tough but he's been struggling for a couple series now. Man, I miss Wiggins.

Scott gets a huge return to the 45. We go 3 and out. We're too conservative here.

12th Drive, ND 18, 6:41, 24-16

We need a 3 and out in a bad way.

1st and 10, Gun 113 vs. 4-3 Over, straight drop, good pass pro, Kizer throws the curl over the middle picked by BJ, INTERCEPTION...

...even better than a 3 and out. This was just a mental error by Kizer.  He didn't Goodson and he didn't see Procise alone in the flat. Had Goodson kept his footing, he would've gotten inside the 10 at least.

On first down but Gallman doesn't follow Crowder who got a seal block which would've given him the edge. What's the point of waiting on a pulling guard if you don't follow his block? We probably should've had a first down on that series. FG is Missed.

13th Drive, ND 35, 4:29, 24-16

1st and 10, Gun 113 Trips Wide vs. Nickel, straight drop, Car gets right past the OG, Shaq uses the spin move and pushes the LT at Kizer but Kizer just misses him and escapes to the boundary, War loops around and gets him for the sack with help from Car, loss of 9...2nd and 19, Gun 113 vs. Nickel WLB Bullet MLB X, straight drop, Shaq picks up Procise coming out on the wheel, TE picks Dodd who had dropped to the seam, BJ gets through and forces a rushed throw to the shallow crosser over the middle, complete, Brown beats Tank to the sideline and turns it up, Mac turns him inside to Green, Green just trips him up for a gain of 29...

1st and 10, CU 45, Gun 014 5-Wide vs. Nickel WLB Bullet MLB Green Dog, straight drop, Godson and Dodd apply pressure, Kizer dumps it to slot on a shallow cross again, Kearse has to chase from across the field and deep, complete, gain of 11...

1st and 10, CU 34, Gun 014 vs. Nickel C2, Tunnel Screen wide to Fuller, great execution by them, BJ gets sealed, Mac protects the edge, Green gets cut, and Fuller has a seam, BB just trips him up, gain of 23...

The rain just picked up again.

1st and 10, CU 11, Gun 113 vs. Nickel C4 MLB Fire, straight drop, fade route to Brown, Tank grabs a lot of jersey and gets a PBU, should've been called for PI there...2nd and 10, Gun 113 vs. Nickel soft C4, straight drop, 3 crossers are open, complete to Brown, hit by BJ, ball punched out by Kearse, fumble recovered by BJ...TURNOVER

These WRs can fly. We should've been in Dime since the first first down of the drive. These WRs are lethal with some room to operate and fatigue setting in. It's all yards after the catch. Hell of a play by Kearse to knock the ball out. This gives me a moment to take my heart medication and get ready for the next drive.

3 safe runs by us on offense causes ND to use their last 2 timeouts. The rain and wind have picked up again just in time for our punt.

14th Drive, CU 32, 1:05, 24-16

1st and 10, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom C2 Man Under, straight drop, good pass pro, Kizer pump fakes and drops the ball, recovered by their Yeti of a RT, loss of 7...2nd and 17, 0:50, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom C3, straight drop, good pass pro, good coverage, tries to check it down to Brown but wide, incomplete, had he caught it Carter would've been there to tackle him in bounds...3rd and 17, 0:37, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom Overload Blitz with MLB WLB and NB, straight drop, blitz is picked up, throws a deep out to Carlisle behind JJ and in front of Mac, Carlisle makes a sliding catch, gain of 19...

1st and 10, CU 18, 0:23, Gun 104 vs. Dime of Doom C2 Man, straight drop, good coverage, Kizer checks it down to Procise, Mac comes up and ankle dives at Procise in bounds and short of the 1st down, horrible effort to make a tackle, terrible, JJ gets him down after a gain of 16...

1st and 10, CU 2, ILLEGAL SUSTITUTION CU on the spike by Kizer, 0:12, Gun 104 vs. Nickel, straight drop, same pick play they got penalized for against FSU last year, this time it was very well executed and we need to add that to our playbook as long as referees are going to allow it, caught by CF Jr, TOUCHDOWN...2 point conversion attempt, Pistol 113 vs. Nickel, On the 2 point conversion, they moved the RB from pistol to regular shotgun position next to the QB.  The only other time they lined up in Pistol and shifted to regular shotgun, they ran a Lead play with the QB.

QB Lead,

The play starts with Car occupying both the OG and C and getting good movement towards the hole. Then next, oh my...

Carlos Watkins occupies both the C and OG and caries them down into the hole and keeps the OG off the 2nd level. Boulware then takes the RB and shoves him into the hole.  This allows Blanks to attack the QB unblocked.

Dodd closes off the edge with the TE, nowhere to go, Kizer gets piled up in a mass of humanity and it's actually Watkins that makes the tackle, NO GOOD.

It's really evident watching back how gassed we were on that last series. We escaped though and defeated a team with a lot of talent. I came away very impressed with their team, especially considering they have had so many injuries. Huge win for Tiger fans..



Advanced Stats

F/+: 2 (I believe this to be our highest ranking since they started doing this in 2005)

S&P Offense: 30

S&P Defense: 5

National Rankings

The number is where we are ranked nationally, not the stat. Those rankings in the top ten and over 100 are bolded.


Scoring Offense: 44

Total Offense: 62

"Yards Per Play": 65

"Yards Per Carry": 55

"Yards Per Attempt": 62

Plays Per Game: 79

10 yard+ Plays: 103

Turnover Margin: 33


Scoring Defense: 12

Total Defense: 23

"Yards Per Play Allowed": 27

Yards Per Carry Allowed": 20

"Yards Per Attempt Allowed": 52

Opponent 10 yard+ plays: 12

Sacks Per Game: 24

Tackles For Loss Per Game: 3

Opponent First Downs: 8

Special Teams:

Field Goals: 68

Punting: 112

Punt Returns: 120

Kickoff Returns: 4

Opponent Kickoff Returns: 119

Kickoff Touchback %: 111


Rushing Yards: Wayne Gallman, 34th

Passing Yards: DeShaun Watson, 71st

YPA: DeShaun Watson, 53rd

Sacks: Kevin Dodd, 28th

TFL Per Game: Shaq Lawson, 3rd

Fumbles Forced: Ammon Lakip, 53rd

All Purpose Yards: Artavis Scott, 70th

The eye test says...

We ran the ball twice as much as we threw it.  Was that the monsoon or is that who we are now?  I hope it's who we are now.  All I know is that we never saw this under Morris and certainly didn't see this in a big game against a marquee opponent. We have played 6 Elite Teams in the previous three years (SC 12, FSU 12, LSU 12, SC 13, FSU 13, FSU 14) and lost or surrendered the battle up front in all 6 games on offense.  I don't know if Notre Dame is an elite team, but we legitimately beat them up front and that gets me excited about this young OL.

Right now, DabScElliot is looking more like Malzahn than Morris in the way they are running this offense.  I have to say that I'm beyond please with that and hope it continues.  As you all know, this is the philosophy that I believe is needed to push through the glass ceiling and ascend into elitehood ourselves.  It may not all come together this year, but it definitely looks like we're on the right track as far as offensive philosophy is concerned.

The bigger coaching issue was on defense. I'm going to have to suspend my man-crush on Venables for a week.

Having all those crossers running free at the end of the game was mind boggling.  At what point do we decide to take those away? Why didn't we go to Dime and dare them to run it?

This reminded me of the prevent we ran against Georgia in 2013 and let them get a free score or two.  There should never be 3 WRs without a defender within 10 yards of them in a game, let alone on the same play. I hope this is, like UNC last year, a situation where we got exposed and fixed the problem before the next game. Those WRs were fast and had so much room to operate.  The run after the catch was killing us. At one point, Kizer had 6 completions in the 2nd half for 178 yards (29.6 yards per completion).

Wilkins is now beginning to surpass Pagano in ability. I think we should see his reps increase. I think Blanks got exposed this week and obviously, they didn't feel comfortable with Carter or O'Daniel. I would think about moving T.J. Green to Nickel and Jadar Johnson to SS then.  Kevin Dodd continues to get better every week and he is starting to become a force. Both he and Lawson are starting to set the edge like Corey Crawford did last year. The football IQ for those two is going up.


Game Ball: MacKenzie Alexander (I think BB had a better game overall but, when you shut down the Biletnikoff favorite by yourself, you get a game ball)

All American Level Performance: MacKenzie Alexander

All ACC Level Performance: Ben Boulware, Shaq Lawson, Christian Wilkins, Carlos Watkins, Kevin Dodd, Jayron Kearse

Solid: Everybody else

Less than solid: Travis Blanks (I really really hate to put him here because he displayed a lot of toughness in the game and was in on the winning play but, I have to be honest and say that he struggles in pass coverage a lot. I know that he is a lot more physical than he was a couple years ago and he's probably still having pain from the 2 ACL surgeries but, he is struggling. He epitomizes the BYOG comment. You can see why the coaches talk about him with reverence like they do.)

Past Game Balls: Scott Pagano (WOF), Ben Boulware (ASU, UL)