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Clemson vs. App St: Key Play Analysis

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

This week we will look at the sprint draw that Clemson used to get Wayne Gallman a wide open lane to the end zone for his touchdown run in the third quarter. Sprint draw is a variation on draw, where the quarterback, instead of faking a drop back pass, fakes a sprint out pass. The offensive line blocking is either very similar or identical to draw blocking depending on the individual teams preference. Part of what makes this play so effective for Clemson is that with a quarterback as mobile and... well, good, as Watson defenses have to fear the sprint out.

The pre snap (image via espn.go.com)

The pre snap (image via espn.go.com)

With the Tigers in second and twenty the Mountaineers are looking for a pass, and given the talent of the Clemson wide receivers the App St. secondary are giving them a wide cushion. Both corners and a safety are aligned at least ten yards off of the line of scrimmage. The defensive line and linebackers that are rushing the passer are pinning their ears back to try to get the sack. This is a good time to call the draw, worst case scenario it's third and long and you can call a short pass to get the field goal team in range for some live practice.

Motion

Pre snap after motion (image via espn.go.com)

Before the snap the flexed tight end in the left slot motions over to a wing position about a yard behind the right tackle. This has the dual effect of forcing the field side outside linebacker wider, as this is now a trips formation, and making the sprint out pass more plausible. Sprint outs are designed to overload a half of the field, this formation allows Clemson to hypothetically either use the tight end and running back to seal the edge or release either into a route to run a three man combination with the other two wide receivers.

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The look at the handoff (image via espn.go.com)

A key part of the sprint draw is that it begins with the quarterback running backwards and towards the tackle, much as he would on a normal sprint out. The running back, being behind and to the right, is in a perfect position to get the handoff provided he delays for a second. If you look at the image above you can see that the tight end has sealed off the outside linebacker, the left side of the line is busy with a few lineman, and the right tackle and guard are handling another lineman. The tight ends block is particularly easy, with his job being to take a pass rusher towards the quarterback on what looks for all intents and purposes like a pass. Even our tight ends should be able to make this block consistently. The safety and corners are in no position to make the tackle by nature of  alignment. Most importantly both inside linebackers have gotten caught watching the ball and are flowing out fast to try to defend the sprint out. The right side inside linebacker is outside the tackle box, the left inside linebacker is nearly over the right tackle. It's hard to blame them, given they're Sun Belt linebackers, for being worried they may not be able to catch up to Watson. However if you look at the left hash you can see just how wide the hole is, with the pass rushers sprinting upfield, the linebackers running away from the play and the secondary nowhere to be found. That's as wide of a rushing lane as you're going to see.

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Gallman is off to the races (image via espn.go.com)

The offensive line does a really good job getting upfield and sealing off second level defenders, or at least forcing them to run around the blockers. Half the App St. team doesn't even know who has the ball. #45, for example, is actively running away from the ball. At this point ScElliot have done everything they can do, the ball is in Gallman's hands and he has to make the play work. We know how that went. I really like that Clemson has shown a constraint play to the sprint

Image via

(image via clemsontigers.com)