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 want to skip to just those. If you rewatch the game, or even 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.
- From the first play of the game when Ryan Norton drove Wofford's NG back 5 yards and pancaked him into the turf, this OL looked different. This wasn't the kind of situation where we run the ball for minimal gain and convert a 3rd and long. We were continuously in 3rd and short situations.
- My favorite play of the game offensively was a 3rd and 8 where the NB covering Renfrow came on a NB blitz. Hyatt crisply pushed the DE inside to MacLain and waited on the NB. Watson then threw a precision pass downfield to the seam to Renfrow for the first down. Gorgeous.
- ScElliot did not call a single run for Watson. On behalf of Clemson Nation around the world....THANK YOU! There is no need to have our meal ticket take contact against Wofford. In our short yardage package, we ran power plays with the RB and the line surge against Wofford's 3-4 got the RB 4-5 yards.
- Had we thrown the ball more, we could've lengthened the game, scored more quickly, and dropped 70+ on them but that's not going to help us beat the teams we need to beat to get where we want to go. Developing a nasty identity running the football in the A Gap will do that though.
- The blocking on the perimeter by Peake and Hopper was not very good. However, Hunter Renfrow's blocking was excellent. We have much better playmakers outside but I think he needs to play.
- We probably shouldn't max protect with Leggett at TE. He's pretty useless on a DE. He did, however, look improved in his blocking on the perimeter. It's really an effort thing for him and he showed better effort this week.
- Dr. Schuess did not look crisp at all in his first drive. He should've thrown a pick 6 a couple plays before he fumbled and turned the ball over. The next drive, he was better and converted a nice 3rd down to Ray Ray. Later in the game, he missed an open Deon Cain on a fade route by inches in the endzone.
- Is it me or did C.J. Davidson look like he lost a step again?
- Gallman still has vision problems but, at least when he makes a mistake now, it is because he is cutting it up inside and taking the guaranteed yardage. He used to have a tendency to bounce everything outside and get tackled for no gain. This time, when he finally bounced it outside in the 3rd quarter, he went for 35 yards.
- When Zac Brooks came in for C.J. Fuller, it was clear that he was on a different level. Fuller couldn't get much going in his three carries on the particular drive but then Brooks came in, found the holes, and got 40 yards and a TD in 2 carries. Brooks also showed the type of acceleration I don't remember him having two years ago.
- Nobody had any business fielding those line drive short punts. Artavis Scott caught one as he was being hit and somehow spun out and had a nice return. He still should not have fielded the ball even though the result was positive. The coaching staff patted him on the back when he got to the sideline even though he was a hair away from a turnover. Then, the rest of the guys competing for the punt return job evidently felt they needed to do the same thing to compete with Scott. It created a mess of high risk play from our punt returner. No wonder we've been "Fair Catch University" for the past two years. Finally, in the 4th Quarter, Dabo jumped on Ray Ray for fielding his second dangerous punt.
- After seeing the Clemson trivia question during the TV broadcast, a noticeable similarity between Coach Swinney and Coach Ford came to me. Neither are able to call the teleprompter their friend.
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, 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, 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
Wofford comes into the game touting a pretty good OL and a 2nd team All SoCon RB that I expect to give us some trouble as we break in all new starters at DL and LB. They were picked to finish 4th in the SoCon.
Offense goes on an 11 play, 3:53 drive, for a TD. We lose Mike Williams on the TD to a fracture in his vertebrae.
1st Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 25, 11:07, 7-0 CU
They confidently come out with 3 RB, 2 TE personnel and threaten to run it right down our throats. We're in, what I call, our 4-3 Heavy, Goodson is at the Sam above beside Dodd and BB is at MLB.
Wishbone vs. 4-3 Bone (what we run against GT which is basically has a stand up DE on one side and BB on the other side 1 yard off the LOS. Both are slow-playing the QB on the option).
(Above: 4-3 bone vs. the wingbone later in the game)
They run a blast play out of the bone and get good push on Watkins (Car/CW) and Dodd. Goodson destroys the RB and makes the play for a gain of two...2nd and 8, 4-3 Over (Goodson back at MLB/ Blanks at Sam) vs. Wingbone, toss sweep right, Dodd can't set the edge but keeps the RT off the 2nd level, Blanks gets cut by the arc block, Tank gets abused by the stalk block, Kearse hurdles Blanks and makes the play for a gain of 6...3rd and 2, Nickel C2 Slant Right-WLB Fire-WDE drop vs. Shotgun (Gun) 2 RBs, TO give to the FB, Pagano pushes the C into the backfield and makes the tackle for a loss of 2, QB and TB were covered as well, excellent job...PUNT
Pagano finally has his pad level down and he is taking the Center's lunch money right now. It's amazing what a little competition will do. Pagano was horrible in the spring game and I think most of us wanted to see Wilkins or Huggins take his reps behind Reader. Not anymore. Way to get better, Pagano. We still show weakness against the sweep which has been a recurring theme since 2012, but I like the 3 and out. Crawford wouldn't have allowed that tackle to release to the outside like Dodd did and would've pushed him into the backfield as soon as he raised up and tried to run sideways.
2nd Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 15, 6:15, 14-0 CU
4-3 Over vs. Wingbone w/ TE, DELAY OF GAME WOF...1st and 15, 4-3 Over vs. Wingbone, TO left, Car is all over the dive, Goodson forces the pitch, Kearse avoids the OT arc block, runs the alley hard, makes the RB stop to avoid him and Shaq and BJ clean it up, loss of 2...2nd and 17, Nickel C4 vs. Gun 2 RB, high snap, play action bootleg wide, coverage is excellent, Dodd beats the TE's block with speed and forces a throw-away, Pagano bowls over the RB and flattens the QB as he throws, Incomplete...3rd and 17, Nickel C4 WLB X vs. Gun 4 wide, QB draw, Lawson gets him for a gain of 1...PUNT
Another 3 and out. They are really overmatched and we are handling our assignments very well on the option.
3rd Drive, 1st and 10 WOF 34, 0:55, 14-0 CU
Gun 2 RB 3 Wide vs. 4-3 Over C4 (Christian Wilkins in), Bootleg right, incomplete on the quick out, just dropped by their WR...2nd and 10, Gun 113 personnel vs. 4-3 Over (strength to the field away from the TE) C6, decent pass rush by Shaq, they fake the same quick out into a pivot route and complete it for a gain of 8, tackle by Kearse...3rd and 2, Gun 3 wide vs. Nickel Double X Zone Blitz, we send both ILBs and drop Lawson into coverage, Dodd beats the RT and forces the QB to throw it away, incomplete...PUNT
On 2nd and 10 they jumped into a formation that I think will be used against us a good bit early on this season. They put strength (TE) to the short side of the field. We elected to defend that by putting BB over the TE and the Sam to the wide side of the field which left Goodson by himself in the middle. This allows them to run away from Lawson and match BB up with a TE underneath. On the 3rd down, they tried to sneak a wheel route by us from the slot but we got good pressure from Dodd that thwarted a possible 50/50 ball with Blanks in coverage.
4th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 25, 13:49, 21-0 CU
Gun 2 RB, 3 Wide vs. Nickel (Austin Bryant, Wilkins, and Rod Byers are in), TO to 2 WR side, War Daddy takes the dive, Blanks gets cracked and does a poor job of defeating the block, Lawson makes contact with the OT this time but he lets him go too soon and he gets to Kearse, Shaq forces the pitch, RB beats Goodson to the corner,
Luckily Kearse is an absolute beast, expertly defeats the tackle's block and makes the play for a gain of 6...2nd and 4, Wingbone boundary TE vs. 4-3 Bone, blast play at Wilkins and Bryant, War gets moved out of there, uh oh, Lawson shoots inside the backside tackle and runs it down from behind, Hey that looked like Vic! Then he goes with DeShawn Williams' "DeFinger celebration" to boot, loss of 1...3rd and 5, Wingbone vs. 4-3 Bone, OV to the boundary with playside OT blocking down, this time War destroys the backside OG and gets through, QB pulls it and BB is on him immediately, pitch to the RB and he is immediately smacked by T.J. Green running the alley, gorgeous, loss of 3, they wanted the dive there and War Daddy blew it up from the backside...PUNT
The reason you want the DE to attack that OT is because the OT is going to take out the defensive player in the alley that has the pitch man. If the DE can stone the OT and ride him down the line, the QB really doesn't have a read. If the QB turns it up, Goodson is in the hole waiting on him on the scrape. If he pitches it, now nobody is blocking the safety and he can make the play unobstructed. Crawford was so good at manhandling OTs and TEs last year. Shaq and Dodd aren't quite there yet.
5th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 19, 9:58, 28-0 CU
Gun 2 RB, 1 TE to the wide side vs. 4-3 Over (Joseph, Yeargin, and Byers in), Power O, Pagano does a great job of not letting the C get to the backside LB (BB) In fact he may have just grabbed him lol, BJ stuffs the OG, Shaq gets cut by the RB, BB and Car make the play, gain of 4... 2nd and 7, Wingbone 1 TE vs. 4-3 Over, LBs are shifted to the boundary away from the TE, Iso, Pagano almost gets the QB before he hands it off, nice, Dodd, BJ, and BB make a pile at the LOS, no gain, CHOP BLOCK penalty is declined...3rd and 6, TIMEOUT WOFFORD...3rd and 6, Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel, TO wide side, they try to crack Kearse and he puts the WR on his butt in stride, lol, Yeargin does a good job of slow playing, but the OT is leading up on Mac this time, luckily the RB drops the pitch or they might have had something there, no gain...PUNT
6th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 23, 5:16, 35-0 CU
Wingbone vs. 4-3 Bone (Dane Rogers, Jalen Williams, Dorian O'Daniel in), Lead Option to the boundary, Dane Rogers gets sealed by the TE, BJ gets cut by the RB, QB keeps, Green comes off the pitch to get the QB for a gain of 5, CHOP BLOCK on Wofford, half the distance to the goal...1st and 21, Wingbone vs. 4-3 Bone, Delay Option, Pagano pushes the C back into the FB, Car is right there for the QB, QB tries to run the other way but Shaq is there, brought down by Car and Shaq, loss of 1...2nd and 22, Wingbone vs. 4-3 Over, busted play by the QB, looks like it was supposed to be a sweep and he didn't pitch it, FB and QB collide, Pagano and Rogers get him for a 4 yard gain...3rd and 18, Gun 4 Wide vs. Nickel C1, excellent coverage, QB tucks it and runs, Kearse and OD get him for a gain of 4...PUNT
Renfrow fumbles the punt return because he tried to run with it before he caught it. SUDDEN CHANGE. We have them in a 4th and 14 and we give them the ball right back because...selfishness by Renfrow. Wofford is back in business at their own 47 yard line and we get our first momentum swing of the day.
1st and 10, Gun 2 RB 3 WR vs. 4-3 Over (Wilkins in), TO wide, Yeargin does a great job holding up the OT!, but BJ decides not to scrape and overruns the play, ugly, BJ misses the tackle and Green cleans it up after a gain of 7...
2nd and 3, Gun 2 RB 3 WR vs. 4-3 Bone, TO wide, QB gives to the FB on the dive, BJ and Kearse get him for a gain of 3, 1st First Down of the game for Wofford.
1st and 10 @ CU 42, Wingbone 1TE vs. 4-3 Over strength to the boundary, TO dive, backside fill by Blanks gets him, gain of 5...2nd and 5, Gun 1 RB 3 WR vs. Nickel WLB Fire, Speed option wide, BJ scrapes and forces the OT to take him, Dodd is blocked by the wing and misses the QB who cuts it up underneath him, geez, QB puts a spin move on Kearse, finally brought down by War in pursuit, gain of 11, first down.
0:50, 1st and 10 @ CU 31 (Byers in), clock running, Gun 1 RB 3 WR vs. Nickel C4, straight drop, out and up by the slot, had a step on Blanks (he could've been called for PI), Kearse recovers and dives to knock the ball away at the goalline, incomplete...0:27, 2nd and 10, Gun 2 RB 3 WR vs. Nickel (O'Daniel in), Lead Option, Lawson forces an early pitch, Green gets cracked into BB and goes down, geez, RB cuts Mac, uh oh, BJ makes a diving tackle at the 15, gain of 16...First Down.
0:20, 1st and 10 @ CU 15, CLOCKED...0:13, 2nd and 10, Gun 1 RB 3 WR vs. Nickel, rolls right, Shaq coming hard, RB cuts Shaq, QB throws off his back foot across his body to a TE drag, should've scored but Green lowers the boom at the 1 and knocks a bigger man out of bounds, gain of 14...First Down.
0:05, 1st and G @ CU 1, Wishbone 2 TE vs. 5-4-2 goalline (Joseph at MLB, Goodson at Sam), whistle before the snap (BB flipped over the pile and landed on the QB and he would've been stopped)... Wishbone 2 TE vs. 5-4-2 goalline, QB Sneak, BB jumps over and gets the QB again, loss of 1...TIMEOUT WOFFORD...0:01, Wishbone 2 TE vs. 5-4-2 goalline, Iso left, RB runs through Green's tackle, TOUCHDOWN WOFFORD, HALFTIME, 35-7 CU
The throwback to the TE was a very risky play. Had the CB or S on that side seen it coming, it would've been a pick 6. We'll be seeing that one again, maybe even this week. Kudos to Green for lowering the boom and giving us one more down of defense.
With 5 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, we had allowed 23 yards of total offense and 0 first downs. That was largely based on just sheer athletic domination. Some plays it was hard to gauge the defensive performance because we're so badly beating them athletically.
We've only had a couple blitzes so far and Venables seems content to play it pretty vanilla.
I don't know if Blanks got benched for getting beat on the double move or not, but, O'Daniel was in on the next play.
7th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 25, 15:00, 35-7 CU
Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel, Load Option (Option with a RB and an OG leading, Also called a "G" as well), BB gets by the OG untouched but gets lost in traffic, Kearse gets cracked, Dodd forces the pitch, Tank gets arc blocked, nobody home for the pitch man, Car gets him down for a gain of 12.
1st and 10 @ WOF 37, HUNH Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel, Lead Option boundary, Dodd with a great job on the OT, BB forces the pitch, Green gets through untouched for the TFL, that's what I'm talking about Kevin Dodd!, loss of 2...2nd and 12, Wingbone vs. 4-3 Over, Blast, Shaq and BJ turn him inside and BB meets him in the hole, gain of 1...3rd and 11, Wingbone twins wide vs. Nickel, Double Pass to the wingback is complete for a gain of 42, just a seam route and he ran right by Green.
1st and 10 @ CU 22, HUNH Wingbone vs. 4-3 Over WLB Fire, Counter Iso play action, BB runs him down and hits him as he throws, incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 1RB 1TE 1WR vs. Nickel, Speed Option Wide, great team surge and pursuit, QB keeps and gets planted by BJ and War, no gain...3rd and 10, Gun 2RB 3 WR vs. Nickel, TO boundary, gives to the FB who bends it back but is stuffed by Car and Dodd...37 yd FG is Good
We give up a trick play on 3rd and 11. We're still dominating up front and on the perimeter, they just made the best of their gimmick play. Credit to them and hopefully Green becomes more aware in the future because of this.
8th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 28, 9:23, 42-10
Gun 1RB 1 TE 2 WR vs. Nickel (Rogers, Bryant, Byers in), play action bootleg wide, Kearse pressures the QB who throws off his back foot and out of bounds, Mac had good coverage, incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 2RB 3 WR vs. Nickel, Lead Option, BB forces pitch, Tank defeats the stalk for the tfl, loss of 2, illegal formation penalty declined...3rd and 12, Gun 2RB 3 WR vs. Nickel, double reverse pass, Rogers in his face, throws to the checkdown who breaks Kearse's tackle and gets the first down, brought down by Bryant from behind, good hustle by him, gain of 15.
1st and 10 @ WOF 42, HUNH Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel, TO, give to the FB, BJ fills for a gain of 3...2nd and 7, HUNH Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel, TO, Pagano shuts down the dive early, Rogers holds up the OT and forces the pitch (nice job), Kearse crushes the RB, loss of 3...3rd and 10, Wingbone vs. Nickel, TO, WR Reverse, BB misses him 5 yards deep in the backfield, but War cleans it up, loss of 2...PUNT
2 more long 3rd downs and 2 more successful trick plays from Wofford.
9th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 21, 4:36, 42-10 CU
Wingbone vs. 4-3 Over, FB Power sweep, Yeargin sets the edge, Kearse makes the play, gain of 3...Gun 2RB 3 WR vs. 4-3 Over Sam Fire, rollout wide to 2 WR side, thrown away incomplete...2nd and 10, Gun 2RB 1TE 1 WR vs. Nickel Double X Blitz, straight drop, hits the TE on a quick out, complete, First Down.
1st and 10 @ WOF 38, Gun 2RB 1TE 1 WR vs. 4-3 Over, Power O, Rogers and Robinson defeat blocks to make the play, gain of 4... 2nd and 6, Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel 22 Front, OV boundary, give to the FB, Robinson does a great job of defeating the OGs block and making the play for a gain of 2, good job by Yeargin with the OT as well... 3rd and 4, Wingbone 1TE 1WR, FB Power, met at the LOS by BJ, gain of 1...TIMEOUT WOFFORD...4th and 3, Gun 2RB 3WR vs. Nickel WLB Fire, TO boundary into the blitz and BB crushes the QB, pitch to the RB who is tackled immediately by Green, loss of 1...TURNOVER ON DOWNS
Ok, we're in serious garbage time now so, I'm going to skip over the schematic specifics and just go with the negatives and positives.
10th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 18, 14:23, 42-10 CU
They try to run a TE drag behind the line (we used to call it a "Kangaroo Route" because the TE was "Down Under" the OL). There is too much pressure from Bryant on the play and it creates a team sack. An Iso gets stuffed by Joseph and Yeargin on 2nd down and a QB Draw gets snuffed out by Green on 3rd...PUNT
11th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 25, 7:38, 49-10 CU
We put the 2nd string DBs in now (Jeffrie, Johnson, Carter, Edmund) and we get a nice TFL on a WR screen this series. PUNT
12th Drive, 1st and 10, WOF 30, 5:00
They're content to run out the clock at this point. Collins Mauldin is in at DE. Joseph had a nice fill on the dive for no gain and followed that with a QB hurry that forced an incompletion on 3rd Down. PUNT
13th Drive, 1st and 10, CU 44, 1:59
Huggins makes an appearance, gets penetration, and makes a tackle on a dive for a one yard gain. The "STS Posters Go Nuts" Moment of the Game: Judah Davis makes a good read, fills the gap, gets in position, and whiffs in the hole giving up a 12 yard run to the FB.
The first half numbers were ridiculously good and were on par with what we did to SC State last year. For the full game though, we allowed 213 yards at 3.38 yards per play. The final numbers are very good but, ended up being below last year's standards. It's just one game though and I did not think that we would be good enough to shut them down like we did for the first 25 minutes of the game.
Way Early National Rankings
Scoring Defense: 26
Rushing Defense: 52
Yards Per Carry: 34
Passing Defense: 10
Yards Per Attempt: 29
The eye test says...
New Defense. Similar Results. The 9 new starters were really crisp on defensive assignments for a game one. We had a couple busts on trick plays and a bust on one pitch back but, overall, a sound thrashing of Wofford's offense. I'm happy with this performance.
- As of game one, the difference between Crawford and Dodd is that Dodd is faster and more athletic, but Crawford displayed a higher football IQ and was stronger at the point of attack. We'll see how Dodd improves as the season goes along but we can encouraged by him showing a little more toughness than he did in the spring.
- B.J. Goodson did see a couple plays at Sam in this game. As I said in my Schematics review, "you haven't heard a peep about this in the media but it's probably going to happen"...and it did...on the first defensive play of the season...3 Horowitz points. Kendall Joseph looked good in this game too. What happens when Joseph gets more experience?
- It appears that at some point we're probably going to miss not having Wiggins out there this year. Travis Blanks put in a pretty solid showing this past Saturday, and yes, it was his first game in a couple years but, he is still behind where Wiggins was last year.
- We didn't see a whole lot of DBs rotating in until the 4th Quarter. If they don't play earlier this week, I'm going to begin to get concerned that our depth might not be as far along as we thought. With the 2nd string mixed in with the starters, the coverage in the spring game was atrocious. However, I still think guys like Adrien Baker and Jadar Johnson should be getting meaningful snaps.
- How was Tankersley in coverage you ask? I have no idea because they never threw at him.
- Venables blitzed a little bit more in the 2nd half but, for the most part, he played it close to the vest. I would not be surprised to see him do the same thing next week as well. Having 9 new starters can be an advantage if you are going to use them in some different ways than you used the guys from last year.
Game Ball: Scott Pagano (Was there any doubt?)
All American Level Performance: None
All ACC Level Performance: Scott Pagano, Jayron Kearse
Solid: Everybody else
Less than solid: The Tiger (Have some pride and at least do semi-real pushups. Clemson was doing pushups long before everybody else was doing them. Don't disgrace the honor of those who came before you by looking like Betty White out there in front of the kids. C'mon, you're better than that. I was at the 82-24 game against Wake in 1981 and they had to use 3 Tigers. If you're exhausted, that's ok, let somebody else put on the outfit and do them).