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Defensive Film Review: ACC Championship

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We reviewed a strong but still concerning ACC championship performance.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

HOT TAKES

Give the Heisman Trophy to Deshaun Watson. No one else comes close. When you consider Watson's season, remember:

  • Watson is less than a year removed from ACL surgery.
  • He rehabbed all offseason (meaning: he couldn't squat to gain weight).
  • He lost his top playmaker the first drive of the year.
  • He didn't even operate at his full potential until midseason.
  • He had five new starters along the offensive line.
  • He's the best player in the country at the most important position.

We get to pat ourselves on the back after another prophetic scouting report, since Marquise Williams was incapable of carrying the Tar Heels without a strong running game. Williams was off, rattled, and never settled down until the game was out of hand, when he then rallied to pull the Heels within a respectable margin.

The game ultimately came down to the incredible inefficiency of Marquise Williams. He passed for 224 yards, which is respectable; he averaged twenty yards per completion, which is otherworldly. The problem for North Carolina is that Williams completed one-third of his passes.

It's been an amazing year, and it's tempting to think that any playoff victories are a mere bonus. Well don't let yourself think like that, because the ultimate prize is two wins away. Remember the Bowden years? The Swinney growing pains? Abandoning the run when it's working or falling flat on our faces in statement games? We overcame all of it. We changed the narrative. Yet once again we are overlooked, even as the 1 seed. Take this time to relax and soak it all in. #1, a Heisman finalist, two wins from a title...and oh yeah it's just getting started because look at what returns for 2016. Enjoy this.

Film Review

Shorthand

Alley = area between the OT and WR. BCB = Boundary Cornerback, Bullet = ILB A or B gap blitz. C0, C1, C2, C3, C4 (quarters) or C6 (quarter, quarter, half) = coverage scheme by the secondary. 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. IZ = Inside Zone or Zone blocked play inside the tackles. Jailbreak = 7 or more blitz. LOS = Line of Scrimmage. Man = man to man coverage. OZ = outside zone run or zone blocked play off-tackle. PA = Play Action. PBU = Pass broken up. Red Dog (overload) = LB and S/NB blitz on the same side. Robber = S or LB moves to take away crossing routes. C3 Sky = SS moves up two yards, takes flat, CBs and FS take deep thirds. Soft = CBs/NB playing well off 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. TO = Triple Option. ZR = Zone read option play.

Coach/Player shorthand: BB = Ben Boulware, BJ = B.J. Goodson, BV = Brent Venables, Mack = MacKenzie Alexander, OD = Dorian O'Daniel, Shaq = Shaq Lawson, Tank = Cordrea Tankersley.

Thoughts within a play are separated by a comma. (,)
Each play is separated by an ellipsis. (...)
First downs are separated by a paragraph.
Comments on a drive are in italics.
Offensive Personnel is 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.

Images courtesy of ESPN and YouTube user Tigerray.

1st quarter

Clemson receives the opening kick and quickly moves into scoring position, but a 47 yard field goal comes up just short.

1st drive, 10:52, UNC 30, 0-0.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs Nickel (Carter at NB, Mack out at FCB) Boulware fire blitz, QB draw, Green takes a poor angle and gives up the corner, sets the tone for a sloppy day with unnecessary roughness, inexcusable, gain of 10 + 15...

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs Nickel, stupid cameramen stay zoomed in on Green a solid second into the play, TV crews are adjusting to the HUNH too, IZ to Hood, Reader beat his blocker and met Hood in the hole but dives for 3 yards...2nd & 7, 113 Shotgun trips left vs Nickel FS fire, pattern match coverage (Carter beaten immediately), comeback route to Hollins thrown late, Mack breaks on it and forces an incompletion, Marquise is scared to death of Shaq who makes him pay for the throw...3rd & 7, backup QB in, 113 Shotgun vs Nickel Cover 4 (formation puts Carter at a stacked SAM alignment, with Boulware out wide on receiver stack to the weak side, huge mismatch opportunity) Mack bails to cover the deep ¼ and Carter doesn't cover the flat until it's too late, easy completion, Carter's fault, he was barely even in the neighborhood of the throw...

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This is lack of experience from Carter. No play action, but he lingers in the box anyway and leaves the flat wide open in front of Mack. That we put Mack back at FCB (remember, we'd brought Mack inside in nickel personnel since the Miami game) means we don't trust Baker against Hollins, but that means we are stuck with Carter at nickel. We've mitigated the loss of Wiggins well enough to get by all year, but seeing Carter on the field had us scared to death against Switzer.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel C3, ZR dive, BJ gets immediate pressure on the bullet but jukes himself, he really should have made the tackle in the backfield, big hole in the C gap, Boulware reaches in the hole and pulls the facemask, ugh, there were an awful lot of penalties...

1st & 8, false start, 1st & 13, 122 Diamond Shotgun vs nickel Boulware fire, ZR dive, looked like a huge hole but BJ read it and filled, DL swarmed behind him, Clemson is trusting the corners to go one on one with no help, no gain...2nd & 13, 203 Shotgun vs nickel man (safeties at LB depth in box), PA, Carter beaten off the line again and gives up inside leverage on the slant, no safety help, BJ gets blocked back into the throwing lane (illegal man downfield) which may have led to the poor throw and subsequent tip, otherwise it's a touchdown... 3rd & 13, 104 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 (Green acting as a LB here though) Boulware and Tank overload blitz in front of a completely blown coverage, no one picked up Tank's man and Boulware's pressure prevented an easy touchdown throw, Jadar Johnson was caught up on Williams' eyes, way out out of position, Marquise somehow escapes and short-arms a one hopper, incomplete...FIELD GOAL GOOD.

Dec 08, 2015 23:05.gif

Boulware's pressure saved us here. It's a shame he couldn't finish the sack and force a longer field goal, but the bust behind him was SO BAD that there are at least 2 wide open touchdowns (Green and Kearse left Hollins uncovered after Tank's blitz, Jadar didn't pick up the slot seam) and a third open man in Switzer underneath. We are lucky Williams is so rattled. This is the second time this drive North Carolina has been able to burn our backup defensive backs.

Watson hits the deep ball to Scott and the RB drag route to Gallman for a touchdown. The track meet has begun.

2nd drive, 5:06, Clemson 35, 7-3 Clemson lead.

113 Shotgun (2 WRs to boundary) vs nickel man C1, sweep, hole outside but Hood cuts upfield, met by BJ, gain of 7 but could've been more (for one, if Williams had looked at the field Tank had been beaten badly on a slant route)...2nd & 3, 104 Shotgun vs nickel Boulware fire in front of man C1 spy, QB lead draw, Green flies in and fills, no gain...3rd & 3, 104 Shotgun bunch right vs nickel BB fire, pass to Hood in the flat, Carter closes and makes the tackle short of the line, he's a bit lost or overwhelmed in coverage but he's a tough tackler and closes in on the ball with no hesitation, gain of 1...PUNT.

Dec 09, 2015 09:00.gifCarter and BJ get caught in the same zone, which is Carter's fault, but he recovers in time to get back to the flat and stuff Hood. A rare 3 & out for the UNC offense, credit where it's due.

UNC's defensive line owns the Clemson front on the following drive, a quick 3 & out for Deshaun and the Tigers.

3rd drive, 1:47, Clemson 46, 7-3 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun tight vs nickel BB and FS overload in front of a six man zone blitz (rushing 6, Carter and BJ underneath zone, corners and Kearse covering the deep thirds), PA, Green gets a clean rush on Williams but can't bring him down, Williams runs around the boundary side and eventually finds Logan alone in the flat on the field side who is actually uncovered by design here, you have to tackle if you bring the house, downfield blocking lets him scamper in untouched...TOUCHDOWN, TWO POINT CONVERSION FAILED.

Well, that will happen if you run this coverage, in which no one covers the flats. Aggressiveness gets you burnt sometimes. There's not a ton else to say here except Green should've made the sack.

Another 3 & out, Gallman was stuffed on first down and Watson threw consecutive incompletions to end the drive. Remain calm.........

4th drive, 0:49, Clemson 40, 9-7 UNC lead.

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel, inverted veer (similar to what we saw SC do with Nunez from a two back shotgun), Williams keeps but slips, Shaq had him anyway, loss of 3...2nd & 13, 113 Shotgun trips right vs nickel overload blitz from BB and Tank, swing pass to field side overthrown, Shaq was in hot pursuit and dear Lord he is fast enough to keep up with a sprinting running back...false start, 3rd & 18, 113 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM BB blitz in front of man C1, BJ eventually rushes on green dog when Hood (his man) stays in to block and flushes Williams, who eventually rolls into a sack, loss of 1...PUNT.

Great stop considering the field position. BJ showed much more speed and athleticism than we've seen in chasing Williams on third down. Clemson has made what it intends to do very apparent here. Venables is betting, and will continue to bet, that Williams cannot consistently make the throws needed to keep drives alive, and that the offense can score enough to erase a few big plays.

2nd quarter

Just your average 96 yard drive from Deshaun Watson. We got his legs involved on this drive, and it proved too tough to contain.

5th drive, 10:35, UNC 25, 14-9 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel personnel, UNC has trips to the boundary so we have Carter, Green, and Kearse shifted to the boundary side, essentially putting us in a 4-3 under look with Boulware in the under SAM role. Once again Clemson keeps no safeties back deep. Venables is absolutely nothing if not aggressive. He may send his family members six man blitzes for Christmas.

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UNC runs a slant to the field side where Mack has absolutely no help. Again, it's difficult to determine the call since Kearse and Green merely JOG TOWARDS THE LOS TWO FEET APART FROM EACH OTHER. A poor throw saves us from a huge gain due to either a terrible call or a ridiculous bust and/or laziness. On the plus side, Bryant lays Williams out (through a hold no less). That's the first non-garbage time play we've seen him have a marked positive impact. He's a true freshman emerging from his trial by fire.

Dec 09, 2015 15:54.gif

2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun (receiver stacks) vs nickel man C1, ZR dive and Hood is completely swarmed by Boulware and the interior DL, good play by BB who was the read key, he forced the dive and then swarmed, this is the BB we need to see and haven't seen lately as he's battled a shoulder injury...3rd & 10, 113 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM double LB bullets plus a FS fire from Green (6 rushers), pressure forces a skip pass to the flat from Williams, he's scared to death, PUNT.

We got lucky on first down with a poor throw, UNC won the chess match on that play but even if the throw is on target, Mack was there to at least make a tackle hopefully. On second and third down, we were dominant. Boulware and Watkins blew up the ZR, then Venables knew Williams couldn't handle the pressure. A better quarterback could have torched us, but Williams is limited as a passer.

Clemson crosses midfield but stalls due to miscommunication in the passing game and a snap Watson wasn't ready for.

6th drive, 8:18, UNC 16, 14-9 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun trips right vs nickel, ZR give to Logan who stretches outside, Shaq completely ABUSED the LT and reaches Logan 4 yards in the backfield, that's a first round DE...2nd & 14, 104 Shotgun vs nickel (Carter and BB both on boundary side), QB draw, Green sniffs it out and chases Williams down for a gain of 2, he's playing like a man possessed...3rd & 12, 104 Shotgun bunch left vs nickel double LB fire, straight drop but Williams misses an open man between Mack's and Austin Bryant's zone, in fairness to Bryant he is being asked to cover the middle hook zone from his defensive end alignment, we told you this QB couldn't beat us on his own, PUNT.

Our following possession was the ultimate WTF sequence for Clemson, with 4 false starts and the punter fiasco. The defense had forced 3 straight 3 & outs (negative 9 total yards!), but the offense and special teams put us in a bad spot...just can't seem to string dominant play together in all phases. SUDDEN CHANGE.

7th drive, 4:52, Clemson 19, 14-9 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, counter trey, BB is sealed and Hood gets the corner, gain of 8...2nd & 2, hurry up before cameraman was ready so all we can see is IZ, Hood bounces outside and hits the corner again, out of bounds at the 1, Tank made a nice tackle...

1st & 1, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, IZ swarmed and stuffed for a loss of 1...2nd & 2, 113 Shotgun vs nickel bear front, PA, Dodd gets in Williams face but he makes his first good throw of the night to Switzer, who beat Carter across the field on the drag route, TOUCHDOWN.

The defense was put in a terrible situation here, but elite defenses respond to sudden change, not buckle. This is a good defense which played dominant football for the entire quarter (and most of the game so far, to be fair). Clemson is starting to show a lot more bear front (two three techs, a nose, a defensive end outside) in short yardage situations lately.

Clemson follows up with a punt, made even worse when Green is ejected for targeting. It was the right call and Green should know better, fortunately it was in the first half so he's back for the full game vs Oklahoma.

8th drive, 2:20, UNC 38, 16-14 UNC lead.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun bunch left vs nickel (Van Smith replaces Green at FS) man C1, tunnel screen read perfectly and almost a pick 6 for Carlos Watkins...2nd & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel C2 man, another inaccurately thrown ball, incomplete in the flat...3rd & 10, 104 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM all LB and Kearse blitz, the linebackers cross and BJ get into the backfield untouched the entire defense converges on Williams who almost escapes, but is wrestled down by Dodd for the sack. PUNT.

THIS is what elite defenses do. Utter madness on special teams, frustration on offense, but the defense holds and gets the ball back without taking hardly any time off the clock. It hasn't been perfect, but this looks much more like the defense we saw earlier in the year. UNC was almost never able to bail itself out on third and long. No catastrophic busts to speak of (in run fits, at least) and we have contained their entire attack, save for the long touchdown on the scramble drill/swing pass. Williams completed three passes in the first half.

Watson does Watson things, taking the lead back with only seconds before halftime (on a PERFECT play call). We've played unbelievably sloppy on offense and special teams, yet still lead at halftime. We'll take it...until we see the stats. 300 yards to 100, and only a 5 point lead? Like we've said all year, good teams will make us pay. UNC is a good team, but they are limited by Williams. We won't get away with this against Mayfield and Oklahoma.

3rd quarter

9th drive, 15:00, UNC 25, 21-16 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel, inverted veer keeper, Williams finds a hole up the middle when Boulware and Smith both inexplicably run at a blocker, not even the lead blocker, Carter wrestles him down from behind, gain of 18...

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel (BB showing bullet), ZR dive, Reader is double teamed, Smith flies in to fill the hole but lowers his head and dives at nothing as he gets hurdled, Hood steps aside and runs plenty of room, gain of 15...

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun trips left vs nickel man, ZR dive, Hood runs into a wall but churns forward, gain of 4...false start 2nd & 13, 113 Shotgun vs nickel bear front BB fire in front of man C1, Dodd and BB force immediate pressure and a throwaway, would've been grounding but Switzer made it to the area in time...3rd & 13, 113 Shotgun vs a conventional 3-2-6, LB blitz plus green dog blitz from Smith, straight drop and Hollins is open on the post route, Mack gave him the inside, gain of 27...

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel overload blitz (Kearse and BB), PA slant tipped by BJ and FANTASTIC interception by Tank at the 3 yard line, TURNOVER.

Dec 09, 2015 18:10.gif

UNC gashed us on the drive but a strong performance just got even stronger with a red zone turnover. Without the tip by BJ, it may have been a touchdown. The tempo began to give Clemson issues, they've been able to get multiple snaps off before the defensive line is set.

Clemson responds with a 97 yard touchdown drive. You know, Watson things.

10th drive, 7:48, UNC 25, 28-16 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel man C1 robber, OZ handoff to Hood, Shaq sets the edge because he is a monster and forces Hood right into Wilkins, who shed his block and makes the tackle for no gain...2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun vs nickel BB blitz in front of man C1, slant complete against Mack, who either expects help inside or is getting beat, gain of 12...

1st & 10, 113 Pistol vs nickel, Kearse on LOS showing blitz, at the snap it's Boulware who fires and Kearse is in man (with C1 from Smith), straight drop, nobody open so Williams gets happy feet, eventually throws it to nobody...2nd & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel weak side overload (BB and Smith blitz), ZR keeper, Williams had no chance, no gain...3rd & 10, 113 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 BB blitz in front of man C2 (BJ spy), nobody open again, Wilkins wrestles Williams down but he threw it away just before taking the sack, FAKE PUNT FAILS HOOOOO BOY.

This game thus far is one of the best efforts we have seen from the defense lately. Coverage has been phenomenal outside of Carter and his fellow backups (giving up a slant in man coverage is expected) and Williams is scared to death of our front. It's clear he's yet to play against a talented defense, and without help from his backs on the ground he is incapable of beating us through the air. Blood is in the water and our boys smell it. Venables is using the defensive line to clog up gaps inside and sending nearly everyone. A consistent blitz has been sending BB outside from a bear look, in essence turning the defense into a 5-1, 5-2 if a safety is in the box. The pressure is ruining any chance at consistency from the UNC offense.

2 plays is all it takes, Watson to Scott on the go route for the touchdown. This game should be over but UNC has quick strike capability, so you have to hope the defense doesn't lose its intensity like we've seen in earlier games when they think it's wrapped up...

11th drive, 4:49, UNC 41, 35-16 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel C2, Mack lets Hollins go past him since his responsibility is the flat/underneath, Smith has the deep half but doesn't get outside in time so Hollins is wide open, Williams overthrew him or else it's a touchdown...

Dec 09, 2015 19:32.gif

Watch Mack pass Hollins off to Smith, who is easily beaten. This is basic Cover 2 zone, in which the corners have the flats/curl routes, OLBs/nickel take the slants, the MLB covers the deep middle, and the safeties take deep halves. This is a questionable call with a true freshman backup playing free safety. Williams had no efficiency all night, they're down by 19, and it's late in the third quarter; we must've known the deep shots were coming. No reason to waste Mack in underneath coverage and let your true freshman backup handle UNC's vertical threat. Again, a poor throw bailed us out.

2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun bunch vs nickel, power stretch to Hood, Shaq beats his man AGAIN and forces Hood inside, but Rod Byers misses the tackle at the LOS and Hood bounces forward for 6 yards...3rd & 4, 113 Shotgun vs nickel C2 man, Davis gets open on the curl since Mack was playing off, but again Williams misses an open man, PUNT.

Aside from the rant on the Cover 2 call, it's tough to complain with another 3 & out against this offense. Williams is off, but it is a product of our pressure. Even when the pressure isn't there, we're in his head.

After a big run from Gallman to start the drive, a Watson pass is tipped and allegedly intercepted. Replay showed the ball hit the ground and we feel it was not an interception, but on such a close call it's no surprise it was not overturned. Watson's 11 interceptions might be one of the most misleading statistics in the country -- at least a handful were not his fault. It's a shame a bad call put UNC back in the game, because this wasn't an interception and without awarding it to UNC, they likely never pull within a score. SUDDEN CHANGE.

12th drive, 3:26, Clemson 42, 35-16 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 212 Shotgun vs nickel double LB bullet, PA, Williams is able to step up thanks to a block from Hood and run free up the middle for a gain of 16, honestly we're surprised he didn't break a long run off before this, there hasn't been anyone spying him all night, but fantastic discipline from the defensive line had kept him contained...

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel, swing pass to Logan overthrown yet again...2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun vs nickel BB fire in front of man C1, go route to Davis caught at the 1, perfect coverage from Tank but it's a perfect throw and therefore impossible to defend...

UNC punches it in 3 plays later on a naked bootleg, Smith identified it but wasn't strong enough to keep Williams out. Green likely makes that stop and forces a 4th down decision.

Gashed in a sudden change situation again. All year, one misfortune has snowballed and we've let teams hang around and chip away at a comfortable lead. Don't expect it to change now, the defense lacks depth and is too worn down to execute perfectly when up "big."

Clemson takes the ball and obliterates UNC with Watson and Gallman on the ground. With Watson's healthy legs, this is a championship offense. It has no weakness. Only Clemson can stop Clemson (until we meet Bama's/Michigan State's front 7s). Watson does the honors for the touchdown, another 19 point lead.

4th quarter

13th drive, 11:27, UNC 26, 42-23 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs nickel C3 Sky, screen play identified by Wilkins and the DL, thrown away...2nd & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel zone, nothing is open so Williams scrambles and slides for a gain of 4...3rd & 6, 104 Shotgun bunch left vs DIME OF DOOM BB and Kearse fire in front of C1 man, Carter gets completely lost in coverage and his man is wide open, Smith tracks him down for a gain of 50...

Dec 09, 2015 20:34.gif

The motion confused Carter who forgot his responsibility until it was too late. We love to pressure on third down, but C1 is risky with Smith and Carter both on the field together. This bust is on Carter.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs nickel C2, Carter gets lost again and lets the slot man run up the seam untouched, BJ recognized it but got tangled with Smith before he could get to his deep zone, complete between BJ and Carter down to the 2...

Dec 09, 2015 20:55.gif

And of course here come the chunk plays. The LAST thing Clemson should do right now is give up chunk plays and quick scores. Carter is an overachiever, but is overwhelmed and tired from more snaps and responsibility than he's ever had.

UNC scores 2 plays later when Hood beats Boulware to the corner. TOUCHDOWN.

The Clemson offense goes 3 & out, suddenly we have reason to fear again...

14th drive, 8:35, UNC 21, 42-30 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel man, Switzer gets open on the corner route, Williams finally looked comfortable, gain of 20...

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun (receivers stacked) vs nickel, quick screen to Switzer dropped...2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun trips right vs nickel BB fire in front of man C2, QB draw filled by Smith and tackled by Goodson, gain of 4...3rd & 6, 113 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM man C2 (Kearse at robber), Williams scrambles for 8...

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 man C3, go route thrown out of bounds...2nd & 10, 203 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 cover 3 zone, Smith doesn't float to the flat quickly enough and it's an easy 11 yard gain on the out route, out of bounds...

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 double LB bullets, Shaq takes that LT for a ride and combines with BB to make the play of the game on defense, sack strip fumble TURNOVER.

Dec 09, 2015 21:47.gif

Look at Shaq fight through a desperate hold and Boulware use his BAD SHOULDER to destroy Hood. THIS is the Boulware we know and love. This is pure motor from two bad, bad dudes -- who ultimately decided the game here.

Gallman runs through the UNC defense all the way to the 3 yard line and kills plenty of clock, but we take the easy 3 points to push the lead back to 15.

15th drive, 2:15, Clemson 49, 45-30 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM (on first down!) 3 man rush in front of zone (Kearse spy), Williams tucks and runs out of bounds, gain of 4...2nd & 6, 104 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM BB and Kearse fire in front of quarters, Shaq pressures the throw which is high and out of bounds...3rd & 6, 113 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM BB and Kearse fire in front of man C1 (risky), crossing route overthrown again...4th & 6, 104 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 BB delayed blitz in front of man, uh oh, Williams tucks and runs for a huge gain, that's the risk with man coverage against a mobile QB...

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM, Kearse and BB delayed blitz, back shoulder throw to Davis, Mack is there but slips when adjusting to the ball, luckily Davis did too...

2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 LB bullets in front of man C1, out route complete to Switzer, Kearse should've made the tackle in bounds but lets Switzer duck and walk in, TOUCHDOWN.

Dec 09, 2015 22:11.gif

More mental errors just because we love to flirt with disaster. Mark Fields gives UNC great field position with the personal foul on the kickoff, then in a 4th & GAME OVER situation we run man coverage against a mobile QB. But on the touchdown, God if I'm Jayron Kearse I'm ashamed of myself. He has a 1st round body and if he goes pro this year, it's based solely on potential because the effort and execution have regressed over the last half of the year. That'll happen when you play nearly every snap for 10 straight weeks.

After craziness with the onside kick (the flag was correct), Clemson runs out the clock. 15th ACC championship and the #1 ranking locked up. Enjoy this.

Summary

Clemson sold out to force UNC to beat them with big plays instead of consistency from its quarterback. It worked fantastically for a half and pretty well for the third quarter. Things started to fall apart when Green was ejected and fatigue began to take its toll on the defense. Our defensive back depth was beaten horribly a few times, and if Marquise Williams had thrown the ball better this is a much different game. He left numerous touchdowns on the field. Credit to our defensive line and blitzers for absolutely terrorizing him in the backfield all night.

The coverage busts we saw will get us killed against any quarterback in the playoffs. Even Coker. There's reason to be concerned, but there is also reason for a lot of optimism. This defense has next to no depth and hasn't had a week off in months. Three weeks to practice and recover should work wonders.

Boulware deserves credit and recognition for playing his best game in well over a month, with a completely busted shoulder. Given his health, he went far above and beyond our expectations with his performance.

Player Grades

Game Ball: Shaq, who else? He took that left tackle's soul for more or less the entire game.

All American: Shaq.

All ACC: Tank, Mack.

Honorable Mention: BB, BJ.

Solid: Kearse, DT's, Dodd, Smith (barely).

Less than solid:  Carter (he's gritty but overmatched) Green (due solely to penalties and disqualification).

Past game balls: Pagano (Wofford), Boulware (ASU, Louisville), Alexander (ND), O'Daniel (GT), Lawson (BC, Miami, Syracuse), BJ Goodson (NC State), Wilkins (FSU), Kearse (SCar)