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TRIGGER WARNING: Clemson vs Pitt 4th Quarter Film Review


Pittsburgh v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Don’t read this at work because you’ll need a beverage or three to get through it.


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 = coverage scheme by the secondary. DIME OF DOOM = 3rd down 3-2-6 havoc formation. FCB = Wide side 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 listed as a 2 digit number: # of RBs, # of TEs, # of WRs; 11 = 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 receivers; 22 = 2 RB, 2 TE, 1 receiver, etc.

Play by Play

Clemson ball, 15:00, Clemson 49, 42-34 Clemson lead

3rd & 3, 11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, nothing open for Watson who eludes pressure in the pocket and dumps a quick pass to Gallman over the middle, but it’s dropped, PUNT.

Setting the theme for the entire quarter here: multiple opportunities for the offense to put the game out of reach and they consistently failed to do so. Don’t let the 600 total yards fool you; the offense was not great Saturday. Taking what was given through the air was good, sure, but 50 yards rushing is all that needs to be said.

Pitt ball, 14:48, Pitt 11, 42-34 Clemson lead

12 ace vs 4-3, stretch handoff to Connor has no chance, massive penetration from Watkins, Connor just has to sit down, loss of 3...12 ace vs 4-3, jet sweep handoff and Smith sets the edge and actually makes the play, forcing the runner out of bounds after a loss of 4 more...11 shotgun vs dime Will/box safety blitz in front of cover 3, quick pass but miscommunicated, incomplete, PUNT.

Clemson ball, 13:08, Pitt 44, 42-34 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel NB/Mike fire, called bucksweep but Watson checks to a quick pass to Renfrow at the snap, tripped up after a gain of 5, almost broke it for at least 5 more...11 shotgun vs 4-3 SS fire in front of cover 3, PA wheel route incomplete to Fuller, ball hung in the air long enough for the corner to make a big clean hit which forced the drop...11 shotgun vs nickel delayed Mike blitz, nobody open and Watson succumbs, sack, PUNT.

And here’s that lovely, year-long theme again: amazing field position with a chance to separate, squandered. At least Teasdall’s punts were as needed.

Pitt ball, 11:50, Pitt 10, 42-34 Clemson lead

12 ace (strength to boundary) vs 4-3, counter handoff to Connor gains 4...12 shotgun (TEs flexed) vs 4-3, draw to Connor gains nothing...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, QB rollout/RPO, flare out of the backfield incomplete, O’Daniel would’ve stopped him short anyway, PUNT.

Defense has been much better this half. Time to, you know, put the game away...

Clemson ball, 10:33, Clemson 42, 42-34 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3/Will fire, quick curl complete to Leggett for 9...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, PA sucks in the linebackers and Renfrow is wide open for the 1st down, has to dive for the catch though, gain of only 3...

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, out and up to Williams dropped, Watson threaded the needle but Williams lost it...11 shotgun vs 4-3, ZR called but Watson checks out (good thing too because two linemen were unblocked), Watson slips while trying to throw to Scott quick and it’s incomplete...11 shotgun vs nickel cover 4, comeback route to Scott complete, gain of 11...

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, quick out complete to Scott for 1...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, complete to Williams for 6...11 shotgun vs 4-3, slant to Williams complete for 8...

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, checkdown to Scott incomplete...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3 Will fire, fake screen to Scott, screen to Gallman loses a yard, would’ve been better to just throw it to Scott for at least 5...Empty shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, deep slant complete to Renfrow for 14...

11 shotgun vs 4-3, IZ to Gallman GAINS 5 YARDS!!!...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, PA rollout RPO, Watson inexplicably throws to Legget who has two defenders in front of him, easily intercepted and returned like 75 yards...

Leggett publicly took the blame for this but he didn’t throw this ball. Leggett did go too deep and should’ve run more horizontal, but there is no excuse for Watson to throw this ball. While not ultimately the play that cost Clemson the game (many more of those are yet to come) this was the catalyst for defeat.

It’s a good day to die.

Pitt ball, 5:42, Clemson 30, 42-34 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel cover 3 Mike/Sam blitz, comeback route to the sideline incomplete...11 shotgun vs nickel cover 3 BCB fire, pressure forces a lob to the TE on the fly, Smith knocks it away...10 shotgun vs dime JAILBREAK BLITZ man cover 0, deep fade incomplete but Wallace called for holding, worst call I’ve seen this year and oh boy have I seen a few this year. Absolute trash.

12 shotgun vs 4-3 counter handoff to Connor who cuts it back and abuses O’Daniel on his way to the corner, pretty much walks in for a touchdown, two point conversion fails.

Blame the refs all you want but there’s no excuse for this ineptitude. The secondary can’t fight off blocks and the linebackers can’t move laterally. O’Daniel...goodness.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably drinking; if you go any further, you’ll likely need to.

Clemson ball, 5:12, Clemson 23, 42-40 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3 Will fire, screen to Scott gains an easy 7 yards...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, soft coverage leaves Renfrow wide open in the flat for an easy 11 yards.

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, curl route to Cain complete but his knee is down so no run after catch, gain of 3...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, slant to Williams complete but thrown behind and Williams has to slide backward for the catch, gain of 5...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, slant complete to Williams for 8, clearly interference yet it’s not called, given what is about to happen that’s a huge non-call since Clemson could’ve taken 15 yards instead of 8 and perhaps kicked a field goal instead of failing on the upcoming 4th down, Swinney rightfully giving the refs hell.

11 pistol vs 4-3, IZ to Gallman gains nothing, Hearn releases too quickly to try and get to the second level, Gallman gets demolished...empty shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3 double LB bullets, curl complete to Williams who drags tacklers for a gain of 9, ugh so close...23 offset I vs 4-3, quick pitch right to Gallman, there’s a hole but Leggett loses his block and lets him go directly into Gallman’s knees, otherwise it’s an easy 1st, this failure is on Leggett’s blocking, what a surprise...

Leggett turns his man right into Gallman.

JUMBO PACKAGE, quick pitch left, Pitt is ready for it and overwhelmingly sets the edge, Gallman can’t cut inside because Hearn fell down and that’s it...


I didn’t mind the play call on 3rd down. If Leggett gets a decent block, the game is over. But asking defensive tackles to block in space on a pitch? Either have them move a pile inside or just keep throwing the slants from the spread. Still, the run didn’t fail because of Lawrence and Wilkins; they made their blocks. It failed because of Hearn and to a lesser extent, Anchrum. Seriously, with the game literally on the line we ran to the side of Leggett (receiving TE), Anchrum (backup, freshman LT), and Hearn (falls down a lot). Tough to blame execution when the call sets you up for failure.


Pitt ball, :58, Clemson 35, 42-40 Clemson lead

12 shotgun vs 4-3 (why?) cover 4, Watkins misses the sack and Peterson steps up and scrambles for 9 yards, final timeout...11 shotgun vs dime cover 3LB/NB fire, NOBODY CARRIES THE TIGHT END UP THE SEAM because it’s such soft zone behind the blitz, easy 20 yards and that’s pretty much game over unless Pitt pulls a NC State (not gonna lie I kind of expected them to)...

11 shotgun vs nickel cover 4, curl route to the TE complete for a gain of 6...11 shotgun vs 4-3 man cover 1 spy, deep out route incomplete, good coverage by Carter...meaningless rollout pass incomplete, field goal following it is good, game over.

There’s no such thing as a good loss. Fact of the matter is this team was too immature to learn from “prosperity” as Coach Swinney puts it. The defense was a huge letdown throughout but played much better in the second half which is a testament to the unit’s leadership. The offense, meanwhile, derped away amazing field position and opportunities in the ENTIRE 4th quarter and quite literally gave the game away as they’ve nearly done MULTIPLE TIMES THIS YEAR. Simply too immature to take the lessons from near-defeats, made too many excuses and references to similar stats last year instead of taking ownership.

There are no fiery leader types on offense like the defense has in Watkins, Wilkins, Boulware, and Tankersley. The offense is full of nice, calm guys. You want calm on offense yes, but you need someone to take ownership up front (Guillermo) or take control on the sideline and demand more from the unit as a whole (Watson). Guillermo is the most likable guy on the team but is a jokester, not a boss like Maclain. (I will never criticize such a wonderful personality given his history). Watson is quiet and leads by body language and example on the field. It’s simply not the personality type of the leaders on offense, which is understandable, but perhaps a bit of anger in the position meeting rooms this week will begin to rectify it.