To kick off the series we are going to look at a play Clemson ran early in the first quarter that did not work, but presents defenses with a serious problem going forward. (All images via ESPN)
Clemson is lined up in 12 personnel, with a tight ends on either side of the line of scrimmage and a wide receiver on each side of the formation. The two tight ends mean that the defense is presented with a total of eight gaps the offense can run through, and with first and goal on the two yard line Clemson really only needs Wayne Gallman to hit the line of scrimmage and fall forward once or twice to score a touchdown. Wofford responds by loading the box, with five players on the line of scrimmage and two middle linebackers and both safeties within four yards of the LOS. This leaves some poor corners matched up on Clemson's receivers one on one, versus almost any team in country there will be at least one mismatch.
After the snap we can see the offensive line and both tight ends fire out, run blocking for what by all intents and purposes appear to be inside zone. Wayne Gallman also is running his track, expecting a dive. The penetration on the left interior side of the line gives me some concern, but it is early in the season and Wofford is clearly selling out to stop the run. On the plus side both tight ends and the right side of the line have begun to drive their man back. Deshaun Watson has pivoted and has his eyes locked on Artavis Scott.
Deshaun Watson has decided that Artavis Scott, with nearly a third of the field and his 5'11" frame is a mismatch vs an FCS cornerback. I don't think many would disagree with his choice to pivot and throw the fade route. The ball is perfectly placed and if Scott was able to hold on he would have notched another touchdown on the day.
What makes this play exciting is just how well it plays to our strengths on the goal line. The offensive line and tight ends have run inside zone countless times together in practice, and the presence of so many blockers on the line of scrimmage, as well as the threat of a Watson keep, forces defenses to load the box. This frees up our wide receivers, almost taller than 5'11" and many 6'2" and up, to bully shorter corners one on one. Deshaun Watson is smart enough to pick the right match up, quick thinking enough to get the ball out fast and accurate enough to put the ball where only a Tiger can catch it. In short, this play is simple but modular, plays to our strengths and threatens the entire field in the red zone. Expect ScElliot to run it plenty.