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Clemson Outlasts Louisville: 1st Quarter Film Review

NCAA Football: Louisville at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve amended this statement a handful of times in recent years now, but Saturday night was the best atmosphere I have ever witnessed. From start to finish (yes, even in the dreadful 3rd quarter) Death Valley was at an all time high. Better than Miami 05, BC 07, FSU 09,11,15, and even better than the fabled Notre Dame game. None reached that level of consistent noise and there is no way Clemson wins that game away from Death Valley. I can point to a variety of instances in which the crowd shook Louisville’s composure in the first half, but the 4th down stop only happened when we induced a false start to push it back 5 yards. That’s the crowd making an impact on the field, the national landscape, showing Death Valley at its best once again. Not only does the nation’s longest home winning streak back this assertion, but public perception now acknowledges this is the premier setting in college football. You’ve outdone yourselves once again, fans, and this victory belongs to all of us.


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. DIME OF DOOM = 3rd down 3-2-6 havoc formation. FCB = Wideside or field cornerback. Fire = S, NB, LB blitz from the outside. Green Dog = man blitz when your man stays in to block or is not in the formation. 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. 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 = RB/QB run, often FB/ H-B lead play to the D gap. TO = Triple Option. ZR = Zone read option play.

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 are listed as a 2 digit number where it is listed: # of RBs, # of TEs, # of WRs like 21, which is 2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR.

As of this writing, the only full game video I found on YouTube is the 30 minute edition. This means I could only pull gifs from the main broadcast camera as it happened live; no pre-snap shifts or endzone-angle shots. There weren’t many plays worth illustrating this quarter, but hopefully other accounts will have full-length broadcasts up for the other quarter reviews.

Louisville ball, 14:55, Louisville 23 yard line

Back to back false starts because Death Valley is absolutely insane, 1st & 20, 10 shotgun vs 4-3, speed option pitch, Joseph slips the block and makes first contact, gain of 5...11 shotgun vs 4-3 DOD fire in front of cover 3, skinny post thrown behind everyone...3rd & 15, 11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM fake blitz, 8 man drop, pressure gets to Jackson who misses the checkdown throw, PUNT.

As expected, the crowd and defensive line are dominant from the start. Truly the entire first half was dominant on defense, and it’s difficult to complain about anything except the 3rd down defense. Louisville converted plenty throughout the entire game, even our dominant first half, which sustained drives and took the play count up to scarily high levels. This obviously caught up with us in the second half.

Clemson ball, 14:07, Clemson 41

11 shotgun vs 3-4 under, jet sweep motion power handoff to Gallman, Crowder pulls well and allows Gallman to squeeze through, that’s all he needs to run through the Mike and gain 12, beautiful...

The line does enough and Gallman does the rest.

Empty shotgun vs 3-4 weakside overload blitz, Watson throws the back-shoulder fade to Williams but it’s too far outside, incomplete...empty shotgun, fake IV to Gallman, rollout RPO, Watson scambers to the sideline for 5 yards...3rd & 5, 11 shotgun vs dime 2 man under (4 man rush turns to 5 when Gallman stays in to block), in route to Leggett undercut and almost intercepted, PUNT.

Louisville ball, 12:53, Louisville 1

1st & 10 from the 1, strong side overload blitz bats the throw down at the line...22 I-form, iso bursts through when Lawrence beats his man and is primed for a safety or no-gain but he is held, Boulware is cut by the fullback in the hole, gain of 34...

It’s hard for an official to throw a flag for holding in the endzone in a game of this magnitude (assuming he even saw it) so the no-call here is understandable...yet the fact that Louisville was never called for offensive holding against such a dominant defensive line is unbelievable. UL fans blame much of the loss on officiating but the holding was rampant, even in the second half when Clemson was exhausted.

1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 double LB bullets, IV keeper didn’t have a chance either way and Jackson is swallowed for a loss of 7 by Wilkins...

Play was designed to follow the TE to the left but never had a prayer against such penetration.

2nd & 17, IZ handoff tackled for a loss by O’Daniel...false start, 3rd & 22, 11 shotgun vs dime of doom (K’Von Wallace box safety) LB bullets in front of cover 3, Boulware makes the sack, PUNT.

Clemson ball, 9:59, Clemson 10

11 shotgun vs 3-4 speed option keeper gains 7 when Watson cuts inside and drags a tackler...fake jet sweep/IZ pulls safeties in and Williams beats his man 1v1, Watson overthrows the deep ball...3rd & 3, 11 shotgun vs 3-4 Sam blitz, QB power, Leggett gets a good seal and allows Watson to squeeze through for 6...

11 shotgun vs 3-4 showing two edge rushers and man cover 1, IZ handoff gains 6...fake jet sweep, power handoff, Crowder again gives Gallman enough room to cut through tacklers and gain 10...

Empty shotgun vs nickel quick screen pass to McCloud gains 1, safety came in hard for support and wrapped up well...empty again, QB power gains 2, Crowder missed this time...3rd & 7, 11 shotgun vs nickel Sam/nickel overload, pass deflected at the line and incomplete, PUNT.

Louisville ball, 6:46, Louisville 14

1st & 10, rollout out route incomplete...20 shotgun vs nickel cover 3, IV keeper filled and tackled by Joseph, gain of 4...3rd & 6, empty shotgun vs nickel double LB blitz in front of cover 0, pressure gets to Jackson and he’s sacked by Pagano, PUNT.

Louisville is getting owned on both lines of scrimmage right now; only a handful of untimely mistakes have kept Clemson out of scoring position.

Clemson ball, 5:08, Clemson 31

11 shotgun vs nickel, NB fire in front of man cover 1, fade to Williams incomplete, obvious interference not called...11 shotgun vs 3-4, IV keeper gains 4, Fruh was blown backward and his man helped drag Watson down from behind...3rd & 6, overload blitz picked up and Watson takes a lane, but can’t quite escape the rush and is tackled short of the first down, PUNT.

Louisville ball, 3:27, Louisville 18

OZ handoff gets to the edge when O’Daniel misses the tackle, tackled on the edge by Edmond (foreshadowing?!)...2nd & 6, 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Sam/SS overload, PA IZ quick screen outside, Edmond overruns it, gain of 8...

12 shotgun vs 4-3 Will/BCB overload, quick out complete in front of Smith for 5...11 shotgun vs nickel, IZ handoff gains 12...

11 pistol vs 4-3 double LB bullets, IZ keeper, Jackson beats Register to the edge and both linebackers on this side crashed inside on the blitz, potential big gain Jackson ran out of space along the sideline...

1st & 10, OZ handoff gains 4...11 pistol vs 4-3, IZ gains 2...3rd & 2, 13 ace vs 5-3 (Tre Lamar Sam, PA fly to TE unguarded but Boulware saw it and recovers in time to make the tackle at the 1, looks like Lamar busted...END OF QUARTER.

As I mentioned, a dominant on defense begins to show cracks on 3rd down, which allowed Louisville to rack up plays early and gash a tired unit late. Everyone in the stadium knew a PA was coming on the last 3rd down, but Tre Lamar’s a freshman out there in a situational formation. Hopefully nobody else runs anywhere close to this many plays on Clemson again...