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Defensive Film Review: South Carolina


Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports


Deshaun Watson answered every Gamecock threat and he deserves your adoration. We are no longer certain he is entirely mortal. At this point, we take issue with anyone who doesn't think Watson is the best player in country. Derrick Henry is a monster, but not even the best running back in the country; that is Dalvin Cook, with Leonard Fournette and Henry in the mix. Watson is the most efficient and dynamic player in the country, and leads the #1 team at the quarterback position -- entering championship weekend, he should be the clear Heisman frontrunner.

Exhale and give thanks that our rival is back to normal, because a decent team would've made Clemson pay for its mistakes early in the game rather than merely late. If Clemson plays like this against North Carolina we will lose. The film preview made us optimistic for a blowout, but we still felt Clemson mistakes were imminent:

"Come out sharp and the game is over early; come out sloppy and we suffer through the nerves we felt against Louisville, NC State, and Syracuse. South Carolina is not capable of the upset unless it forces Clemson into errors or benefits from a handful of unforced ones. Given what we've seen from the Tigers recently, I can't help but expect a handful of glaring mistakes -- but not enough for a team of South Carolina's caliber to pull the upset. Clemson 45, South Carolina 23"

An unfortunately prophetic prediction; Clemson did everything it could to beat itself, but SC was not good enough to take full advantage. Mistakes were rampant on both sides of the ball instead of merely on the defense: Clemson kept points off the board with multiple fumbles and gave SC free points with bust after bust in the second half.

And yet, Clemson played sloppily on the road against its rival -- who played their best game of the season, by far -- and never trailed. In fact, SC never had the ball with a chance to take the lead after the (scoreless) 1st quarter. For all our worry, the Gamecocks never both pulled within a score and subsequently got the ball back to their offense.

The 5 point margin is misleading since their last score came with 1 second on the clock and no chance for SC to score again. If that's qualification for a moral victory, then damn, things are worse down there than we ever dreamed. Back to normal.

Film Review

Buckle up, this one gets bad.


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.

Disclaimer: the camera angle is so narrow it is usually difficult to tell what the exact call is, so if the coverage isn't specified it's either a run or too narrow to determine. Image credit to ESPN and YouTube user Tigerray, as usual.

1st quarter

1st drive, 15:00, SC 25, 0-0.

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3 over BB blitz, go route to Samuel incomplete, Mack was there in coverage...2nd & 10, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, IZ, met by BJ who shed a block and made first contact anyway gain of 2, there were blitzes coming from everywhere...3rd & 8, empty Shotgun vs nickel go route dropped, illegal formation anyway, PUNT.

Tank was beaten on the third down throw but it wouldn't have mattered due to penalty. A much-needed solid start. South Carolina employed wide line splits, which does make penetrating and shooting gaps easier, but also minimizes the damage the edge rush can do as well as opening wider running lanes. It's a risky strategy, but South Carolina was not going to keep this close without gambling.

The Clemson offense begins with a 3 & out.

2nd drive, 13:20, SC 31, 0-0.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, stretch power, Watkins and Shaq both blow past their blockers but Wilds slips between them in the backfield, gain of 4. Goodson does a good job of keeping his feet chopping and is able to adjust to tackle the cutback...2nd & 6, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, showing pressed corners, Nunez at QB, jet sweep to Cooper, Shaq and Boulware converge, excellent fill and hit from BB, gain of 1...3rd & 5, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, inverted veer (ZR but with RB sweep/QB power), Shaq takes away the sweep but is too deep in the backfield to catch Nunez, then BJ inexplicably goes after Wilds and leaves a huge hole for Nunez, gain of 15. Shaq does a great job pursuing, you love to see that your defensive end can run like that ...

Nov 29, 2015 13:08.gif

1st & 10, likely a pattern match cover two, Orth in, 104 Shotgun trips vs nickel, QB lead draw, BB fills but is cut down by Wilds' block, another 15 yard QB run. The hole was almost comically large, as Shaq and Watkins clearly looked to penetrate at all costs. Great play call...

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False start, 1st & 15, Cooper in 122 Diamond Shotgun vs 4-3 (Green at LB depth and Kearse only 8 yards deep), ZR, Shaq blows up the dive and Cooper pulls, Green and a host of defenders bring Cooper down, loss of 1....2nd & 16, Cover 6, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3 over, fake orbit RB screen to Wilds, BJ slides underneath a lineman and slams Wilds down, great stop to prevent a huge gain, "only" gained 11...3rd & 5, 113 Trips Shotgun vs Nickel, Kearse flies in and stops the out route short, gain of 4...4th & 1, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, QB sneak gets 1st down.

South Carolina just hurried to the line and got the snap off before anyone on defense was set, and their line got under Clemson's as a result. It's a good play for any uptempo team to keep in the attack, it makes any # and 1 yard situation even more stressful for the defense...

1st & 10, Cooper in 122 Diamond vs 4-3, fade route but Mack was there in man coverage, incomplete, of all the people on the field to test, Mack is not the one...2nd & 10, 104 Shotgun trips right vs nickel Cover 2, Baker reads it the whole way and takes advantage of an awfully poor throw, INTERCEPTION.

Clemson either did not plan for Orth to run or did not plan well for it, his mobility has been responsible for most of the damage. Both Mack and especially Tank are often pressing or lining up in press alignment before bailing. The line is able to penetrate, but has yet to turn that into pressure or tackles for loss.

The offense moves into SC territory before a Gallman fumble. SUDDEN CHANGE.

3rd drive, 6:03, SC 36, 0-0.

1st & 10, 122 Shotgun vs 4-3, PA rollout, Shaq abuses the TE in pass protection, SC tried to block him with a TE, on purpose (lol), and slams Orth for the sack, loss of 7...


2nd & 17, empty Shotgun (WIDE splits) vs nickel, quick bubble screen to Cooper, Kearse and BJ fly to the ball and sandwich him, gain of 4...offside (Watkins), 3rd & 8, wide split empty Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM BB fire in front of C1 man, Kearse plays beautiful coverage to swipe away the in route, incomplete, PUNT.

Kearse has been a terror near the line of scrimmage, and South Carolina hasn't been able to beat either corner consistently enough to require two deep safeties. The wide line splits are still mostly keeping Orth upright on dropback passes. He may not be the greatest QB but he does not dawdle in the pocket. South Carolina has kept a good Clemson pass rush at bay.

Another efficient drive ends in a fumble. SUDDEN CHANGE.

4th drive, 1:54, Clemson 39, 0-0.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, Nunez QB draw met and stuffed by Wilkins, both safeties were in the box, no gain...delay of game out of a timeout (lol how does that happen?) 2nd & 15, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, Cooper inverted veer keeper, BJ fills but misses a TFL, fortunately for him Green read it perfectly and BB hustled, BB hits him but Cooper spins off for a gain of 4...3rd & 11, 113 vs 4-3, QB draw, BB fills and meets Nunez with a host of defenders, gain of 2...FIELD GOAL NO GOOD.

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Another 3 & out but both linebackers missed tackles they are supposed to make. Situations like this should not end in four yard gains. That's three guys in position to make a tackle for loss. Three of our better players, at that. 2/3rds of the defenders are 1st or 2nd team All ACC. We are fortunate SC doesn't have the players to make us pay for our turnovers, and a decent team would likely have a 14-0 lead on us by now. Still, the defense deserves credit for keeping points off the board thus far.

2nd quarter

A quick 3 & out from our offense and OK DON'T PANIC EVERYTHING IS FINE RIGHT.

5th drive, 13:43, SC 20, 0-0.

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3 BB fire, orbit motion brings Cooper into the backfield at the snap, triple option (Syracuse game film, sigh) but with the second RB acting as lead blocker, Wilds gets a lead block on Shaq and Williams is free, BB blitzed the A gap and they caught us in a numbers disadvantage, instead of slanting into to the B gap Wilkins got manhandled onto the ground, gain of 15...

Nov 29, 2015 19:46.gif

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, lead block ZR dive, stuffed for a gain of 1...2nd & 9, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, lead block ZR dive again, Shaq is sealed by Wilds but Tank fills and flips Williams, gain of 3.

Clemson is setting the strong side to the field, which means that the three tech DT is to the field side and a one tech is towards the boundary. That leaves the boundary B gap open, in our base scheme it is Boulware's gap. By running a designed inside zone cutback the thought is that BB will flow to the strong side before the tackle washes him down, the fullback will take Lawson out, and the guard and center can drive Wilkins off. Credit where credit is due, South Carolina's coaches are calling a good game...

3rd & 6, 113 Shotgun (TE flex) vs 4-3 Cover 2, corner route is open between Tank in the flat and Green in C2, but it's overthrown and Green laid the wood anyway, incomplete...PUNT.

Bailed out by a bad throw on third down, this is an example of SC just not being good enough to make us pay for our sloppiness on offense. They had decent success with the ZR/IZ from a two back set -- which allows one back to serve as a lead blocker -- but that run was largely due to bringing Boulware on a blitz. They took advantage of our call there.

Gallman, Cain, and Watson show out to get the Tigers in the endzone with the efficiency we are used to seeing, TOUCHDOWN CLEMSON.

6th drive, 8:33, SC 26, 7-0 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun (TE flex) vs nickel BB fire (outside blitz), IZ, Wilds wants to bounce outside but Shaq forces him right into Green, who filled the gap quicker than a safety has any right to and made the tackle, gain of 3...2nd & 7, Nunez in, 203 Shotgun vs nickel, Kearse chasing the motion shows that we're in man, BJ bullet, ZR keeper absolutely swarmed by Shaq and BJ, loss of 3...


3rd & 10, 104 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM (refresher: essentially a 3-3-5 with Kearse at SAM, can turn into almost a 4-2-5 with Kearse serving as a DE/SAM hybrid. Kearse is our most versatile defender by far) LBs fire blitz in front of man C1, pressure forces a low pass, incomplete...PUNT.

Clemson has run a lot of cover one on first and second down, leaving Tank and Mack on islands so Kearse or Green can be the eighth man in the box. All of Clemson's penetration is finally turning into tackles for a loss. It's difficult to complain with what we've seen from the defense thus far, no busts and no points given up despite the offense putting us in awful situations. So we'll complain about the SC punt formation and how ridiculous it was to not figure that out. We can't claim Fair Catch U if we can't put a returner back there.

Luckily, the poor field position didn't matter. The first (and due to insanely deep safety alignment, only) deep shot of the day results in points. Exhale, the offense is in gear and the defense has gone above and beyond thus far. At this point the nerves settled and most of us likely expected the blowout was at hand. 14-0, Clemson looks set to pull away.

7th drive, 4:12, SC 21, 14-0 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, Nunez in, 113 Shotgun (TE flex) vs nickel BJ bullet, BJ and Watkins freeze Nunez in the pocket and bring him down for the sack, loss of 11...2nd & 21, 113 Shotgun vs nickel C2, QB draw, Wilkins gets immediate pressure and nearly trips Nunez, but Nunez slips free, Dodd and BB both overrun Nunez who cuts back and rips a huge gain before Green wrestles him down, gain of 47. Maybe if Wilkins makes the tackle in the backfield we have a very different game. He didn't, we don't...

Nov 29, 2015 20:55.gif

1st & 10, Orth in, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3 BB bullet in front of man C1, orbit PA immediately pressured by pretty much every pass rusher and flushed right, incomplete...2nd & 10, 113 Shotgun vs 4-3 Blanks fire, ZR dive, the entire DL gets penetration but Carson somehow squeezes through, BJ and BB both make contact and miss tackles, Mack and Green finally bring him down, gain of 25. BB was busy covering a potential POP pass, in fairness (watch the tight end, and the motion of the tight end before the snap likely served to overload what had been the weak side of the formation), but he recovered in time to make the play and he just did not. BB had on a shoulder brace, We guess he didn't want to take a hit like that to his bad shoulder...

Nov 30, 2015 23:08.gif

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, buck sweep, Pagano splits and shoots the gap, he and Reader sandwich Carson for the TFL, loss of 1...2nd & 11, 104 Shotgun (trips right) vs 4-3, quick pass to Cooper (actually barely a lateral) who drops back and looks to throw, BJ swarms and forces Cooper to eat it, HUGE loss of 11...3rd & 22, 113 vs nickel C3 Sky, Orth flushes and rolls left, plays above his level and hits Cooper for 24 on the scramble drill, uncharacteristic great throw from Orth and Green didn't run with the post route well after the receiver cut outside...

1st & 6, empty Shotgun vs 4-3 bear front (that's a rare look, BJ and BB are lined up near the LOS outside the tackles) BJ blitz, BB spy in front of man C0, fade route overthrown and incomplete...2nd & 6, 113 Shotgun (trips right) vs 4-3 bear front BCB & BJ blitz, IZ, Wilkins penetrates but Carson sneaks through again, met and thudded by BB who stops all Carson's momentum, good fill and stop, gain of 3...3rd & 3, 113 Shotgun (trips right) vs 4-3 BB fire, pass thrown high and incomplete, FIELD GOAL GOOD.

And so the cracks begin to show. Two plays on one drive where South Carolina lost 10+ yards is great. That South Carolina was able to string together three plays of twenty plus yards, not so much. Two long runs on just abysmal tackling and one scramble drill. One of those plays could have been excused, three in one drive is just sloppy. There were several good chances to take the ball from South Carolina, and had Clemson gone up 21-0 we don't think the game ever gets close.

3rd quarter

A quick strike drive in which we benefit from a close fumble reversal before Watson bursts 30 yards on the next play. 18 point lead against a lame duck team, at this point it felt like the game was over. TOUCHDOWN CLEMSON.

8th drive, 13:26, SC 24, 21-3 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, Nunez in, 113 vs 4-3 BB fire, orbit ZR keeper, BJ bursts through a lot of traffic, ignores the orbit and RB fakes and throws Orth down, loss of 3...2nd & 13, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3 zone, nothing open and Orth scrambles for 5...3rd & 8, 113 Shotgun vs nickel LB fire in front of C3, straight out of MSU's playbook, Mack gets drawn inside and barely misses the tip before Orth hits the slant, Baker gave up the inside and Samuel is clear up the middle, Kearse shaded to the strong side and has a poor angle, gain of 48.

This will happen when you send the house like Venables does. But Baker has to at least make the pretense of attempting to deny the receiver the slant or Kearse has to drop back far enough to disrupt it...

1st & 10, Nunez in, 122 Shotgun vs 4-3 BJ bullet, inverted veer give, Blanks sets the edge and forces Carson back into Dodd and Kearse, no gain...2nd & 10, Orth in, 113 Shotgun vs nickel BB fire, another uncontested slant to Samuel, this time beating Tank, gain of 12...

1st & 10, 113 Shotgun (trips left) vs nickel Mack and BB fire, Mack delivers the shot but Orth gets the pass off to Carson in the flat, gain of 5...2nd & 5, Nunez in, 113 Shotgun (trips left) vs 4-3 BB bullet, ZR keeper, gain of 6. South Carolina has been able to hurt Clemson when they align the tight end to the boundary and running up the middle...

1st & 3, 113 Shotgun vs 4-3 BB fire, busted ZR keeper, Nunez met for no gain...2nd & 3, Orth in, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, IZ absolutely swallowed by Dodd, great quickness to burst through at the snap, loss of 2...3rd & 6, 113 Shotgun vs nickel LB bullets, Orth makes a great throw to Samuel despite good coverage from Tank, not much he could've done there. TOUCHDOWN.

Woof. Orth and Nunez, especially Nunez, have been able to hurt Clemson on the ground. Clemson has taken the running backs out of the game and both quarterbacks have stepped up. Orth is throwing the ball a lot better than you'd expect given his TD/INT ratio.

CJ Fuller looked very good off the bench here. He hits the hole quickly and with more burst than what we have seen from any other back on the roster. If he doesn't fumble, he's an asset like we saw here for his first career touchdown. Another 18 point lead, another sense that the game is wrapped up...

9th drive, 2:16, SC 25, 28-10 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113, the defensive line looks an awful lot like the call was for a 3-4 with Bryant as the extra OLB but the SAM had to be split out, Shotgun vs nickel BJ bullet, IZ, met and tackled by Watkins for no gain...false start, 2nd & 15, Nunez in, 203 Shotgun vs nickel SS fire, speed option, Kearse runs straight to alley so Nunez keeps, BJ isn't blocked but can't fill quickly enough and nor can BB, big hole with Kearse in the alley, fumbled but recovered by SC, gain of 22...

Nov 30, 2015 12:33.gif

Recover the fumble and the game is likely in-hand. This is the fourth of the inexplicable twenty yard plus gains. The offense is giving the ball away. Fumbles never went our way on either side, but we were good enough to survive. The defense has been boom or bust, holding SC to little or nothing on roughly 80% of the snaps but then gives up yet another chunk play. The lack of depth at linebacker continues to kill us. BB has been a ghost. He finished the day with four tackles. You need more from a linebacker.

1st & 10, Orth in, 113 Shotgun vs nickel Mack fire, IZ, BJ thuds his blocker back and brings Williams down, solid play from BJ there (boom or bust indeed, here comes the bust)...2nd & 10, 203 Shotgun vs 4-3, RB orbit motion to flat at snap, PA pulls in the linebackers and Green; Mack and Blanks both jump on the flat, Cooper left uncovered on the slant from the slot, wow that was bad, 60 yard TOUCHDOWN.

Dec 01, 2015 00:31.gif

Nov 30, 2015 12:44.gif

This is such an awful bust it's difficult to decide where to begin, much less determine the coverage. Let's start with the obvious, Goodson bit hard on the PA and the slant was heading into the zone he vacated. That will happen to linebackers, it's not great, but you live with it because your safety can clean up the mess. In the lower gif we can see that Green is beaten the exact same way. That is not ok at all. Goodson is mostly to blame for the catch, the yards after the catch are on Green. Elsewhere Mack is jumping the motion route in the flats, and Blanks left the interior of the defense out to dry. It looks like Clemson is in cover two to the field side, which has the unfortunate necessity of requiring the hook/seam players to run upfield with vertical routes. Blanks loses track of the man in his zone biting on play action and is probably why Orth realized Cooper, the best player SC has, is open. Blanks, Green and Goodson don't look good here.

4th quarter

Artavis Scott fumbles on the ensuing drive and yeah ok it's time to panic. Losing three fumbles out of three is the sort of bad luck upsets are made of. SUDDEN CHANGE.

10th drive, 13:46, Clemson 26, 28-17 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 104 Shotgun vs nickel, midline read option, Carson makes Wilkins miss in the backfield, gain of 4...2nd & 6, Nunez in, 113 Shotgun vs nickel, literally everyone is within five yards of the LOS, reverse to Cooper, Green was almost out of position but recovered in time to hit Cooper at the sideline, fumbled out of bounds, no gain, great play from Green...3rd & 6, Orth in, 113 Shotgun vs nickel BB fire, speed option into the blitz, Shaq sets the edge and forces Orth inside, BB then turns away from the pitch man to hit Orth, who makes a crazy late pitch to Carson who has room on the sideline, gain of 21...

Nov 30, 2015 13:22.gif


While Boulware is again the culprit on the option, it's more forgivable since it seemed Orth all but committed to the keeper and Boulware did not actually bust and bail on the pitch -- Carson was very deep and Orth made a phenomenal play to get him the ball. Were Carson not quite as deep, Boulware intercepts the pitch, as he very nearly did anyway. As frustrating as the continual chunk plays are, we must note that SC is playing its best game of the entire year to this point. It's more embarrassing that Reader let Nunez -- a man half his size -- push him into the endzone on the two point try.

Watson makes critical 3rd down conversions to carry Clemson into the endzone and keep SC at bay, but the PAT is missed.

11th drive, 7:58, SC 23, 34-25 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 113 vs nickel C2, PA slant incomplete when Boulware thuds the receiver, good to see the linebackers ignore the PA at this stage of the game, especially with SCars running backs playing this poorly, and get into coverage quickly...2nd & 10, 113 Shotgun trips left vs nickel C1 man, PA rollout flood route (flat, out, go routes all on same side of field, a zone buster but we were in man), pass to Cooper on the out is underthrown and incomplete...3rd & 10, empty Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM (Kearse pulls off LOS and drops into safety depth with Green and Jadar, quick swing pass to Adams overthrown, incomplete, PUNT.

EX-FREAKING-HALE. 3 & out due in part to poor QB play, but the defense was sound in coverage nonetheless. After a very strange and frustrating before becoming infuriating and terrifying quarter and a half, the defense played well this drive.

The Clemson offense picks up a couple of first downs and eats some clock, but stalls in Gamecock territory. PUNT.

12th drive, 2:59, SC 16, 34-25 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 203 Shotgun vs nickel man, quick swing pass to Carson met by Dodd and BJ, no gain...2nd & 10, same formation and personnel, C2, rollout corner pass incomplete and Clemson was lucky it was. Here is a picture of our front six at the snap. Not one lineman has managed to even get into a three point stance. The defensive ends, who are allowed to play a two point, aren't set in anything resembling a good two point stance. Both linebackers are standing straight up. As is one defensive tackle. That's not acceptable. At all. The defense looks exhausted and on its heels here.

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3rd & 10 104 Shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM overload blitz from BJ and Mack, green dog blitz from BB, Dodd and a host of defenders meet for the sack, loss of 6...4th & 16, 104 Shotgun vs 3-2-6 BB fire in front of man, Orth flushed and scrambles for a gain of 15, you have to wonder why no one is spying when both quarterbacks have been dangerous running, awarded first down but Dabo wins the challenge, TURNOVER ON DOWNS.

That does it. Despite more busts and consternation, the defense holds when it truly must. Great third down blitz to get a sack and ultimately result in the TOD.

Clemson tacks on a field goal and forces SC to use all its timeouts

13th drive, 1:18, Clemson 39, 37-25 Clemson lead.

1st & 10, 104 shotgun vs 3-2-6, the DB's are playing back, BB and spies Orth trying to run and a diving Lawson takes him down. Coverage sack, in essence, even if Orth fell forward just far enough for it to turn into a bad run... 2nd & 9 104 shotgun vs 3-2-6, Green and Kearse both break up the pass over the middle... 3rd & 9 113 shotgun vs 3-2-6, play action and Orth finds the hole between Tank and BB who converge to tackle the slant but not before a first down...

1st & 10 104 shotgun vs 3-2-6, Orth attempts to slide away from the trips side to throw a crossing route (Lawson has been more focused on bullying South Carolina's left tackle than keeping contain for a while) but Kearse is there to break his pass up... 2nd & 10 104 shotgun vs 3-2-6, and Scar has another risky/smart call go their way.

1st & 10 104 shotgun vs 3-2-6, BB chases a running back to the flat, which is not his zone, and watches as a slant is completed in his zone. Green utterly blows his tackle, costing us another twenty stupid yards in the process. At this point we it was pure misery to watch this defense...

1st & 10 104 shotgun vs Dime of Doom, 7 man cover zero blitz and no one picks up the running back on the flare route. Easiest throw in the world for Orth, and even SCars running backs can make something work when no one covers them. BB throws his hands up in disgust. Same, Ben, same. TOUCHDOWN.


Press the panic button, the busts allowed a 3-9 shell of a team to score its most points all year. The second half was particularly alarming, and was undoubtedly the worst the unit has looked all year. It is clear the lack of depth has caught up with this defense. It is clear that Boulware's shoulder injury is worse than it seems. North Carolina's stud running backs and mobile quarterback will eat this alive if we see the same defense on Saturday.

We can hope the collapse is from a "lack of focus" and the defense will return to early/mid season form, but film says otherwise. We worry how painful next week's review may be...

Player Grades

Game Ball: Kearse

All America: None

All ACC: None

Honorable Mention: Mack, Kearse, Lawson, Dodd, BJ, Tank

Solid: Green, DT's, Baker

Less than solid: Blanks, Boulware

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