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Clemson vs Wake: 1st Quarter Film Review

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Clemson v Wake Forest Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

For a quarter, Clemson again looked like the legitimate title contender everyone expected all season...and then of course they reverted to (dare I say usual?) form with a lackluster quarter or two before coasting through garbage time. Luckily for your Monday, we look at the good quarter here today! The greatest and most-lasting impression from Saturday is the Clemson running game finally showed up against what is actually a decent Wake Forest front line. It took Louisville 50 minutes to score a mere point against Wake, and FSU could only put up 17 points in 60 minutes. This is not a bad Wake team at all, and it’s not an awful stretch to suggest that Wake’s defense may have been a tougher test than South Carolina’s this coming weekend. With its starting QB, Wake may even be superior overall...

So begins rivalry week. Kickstart your Monday with the knowledge it’s a short week and enjoy the outstanding first quarter below to convince yourself a blowout is imminent. (Pay no attention to the 2nd or 3rd quarters later this week, nope, none at all...)

Shorthand

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.

Format

  • 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

Wake ball, 15:00, Wake 25 yard line

3 hapless runs, may as well have punted on 1st down...

Clemson ball, 12:46, Clemson 49

11 shotgun vs 4-3, fake jet bucksweep handoff, Hearn and Leggett pull and Gallman splits nicely, but stumbles through the hole for a gain of 6...11 personnel shift to empty vs 4-3, quick screen to Scott, Renfrow gets blown backward on the block and gives up the TFL, loss of 1...11 shotgun vs nickel cover 3, pressure up the middle forces Watson to dump it to Gallman who drags a defender for 5, 4th & inches...11 shotgun vs 4-3, fake jet sweep counter ZR handoff, Leggett gets a seal and the only defender in position to make a tackle is too far outside on Watson’s run action, Gallman easily slips the arm tackle and he’s gone, TOUCHDOWN.

This is the expectation for the Clemson run game. See what it can be when the line (and Leggett) aren’t whiffing blocks?! Physical domination isn’t required with zone blocking. At the very least just know your assignment and get a seal. Often that’s all it takes with a backfield this talented. Oh, and Leggett executing a block also shows just how culpable he’s been in the run struggles.

Wake ball, 11:24, Wake 25, 7-0 Clemson lead

22 I-form vs 4-3, QB checks out of a run and it’s a short stop/slant route for 4 yards...21 pistol vs 4-3 BCB fire cover 3, PA pass to TE drag, Carter makes first contact, gain of 4, Wilkins called offside at the snap though...2nd & 2, 12 pistol vs 4-3 under, IZ handoff gains 1...12 shotgun vs 4-3, screen pass dropped, would’ve been stopped short by Carter anyway, PUNT...running into the kicker, 5 yard penalty, 1st down...

12 ace vs 4-3 double LB bullets, handoff has no chance with Boulware’s immediate penetration, back runs directly into Bryant, no gain...12 pistol vs 4-3 cover 3 double LB fire, fly route incomplete, just overthrown behind Carter and in front of Smith...11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM, false start...12 shotgun vs dime of doom, 3 man rush cover 4, quick checkdown to the running back, stopped after a gain of 8, PUNT.

Clemson ball, 8:28, Wake 40, 7-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun (Gallman split out, Leggett H-back) vs 4-3 cover 2 zone, PA jump pass to Leggett who gets behind the Mike, easy 32 yards right down the middle...

11 shotgun vs 4-3, ZR handoff and there’s a massive lane, Pollard seals the DE outside and the rest of the line pushed the Wake front sideways, Crowder finishes with a pancake, gain of 12...

THIS IS THE EXPECTATION.

11 shotgun vs 4-3, Watson checks out of a run and hits Williams for a quick 9 yard pass...11 pistol vs 4-3, OZ handoff gains 2 yards...

1st & goal from the 4, 11 shotgun vs 4-3, fade to Williams incomplete...11 shotgun vs 4-3, counter handoff to Gallman gains 2...11 shotgun vs 4-3, QB sweep, Watson gets the corner for a touchdown.

Since the days of Tajh Boyd, and particularly with Watson, many have lamented Clemson’s QB run usage in short yardage. The issue isn’t simply running Watson, the issue is doing so with creativity and diversity, as in: BREAKING TENDENCIES. This is exactly how it’s done. Wake expected zone read and thus tried to overload the expected mesh point. A sweep with Gallman lead-blocking (which he always does beautifully) is brilliant because it creates a numbers advantage (Wing T) and lets Watson use his speed to reach the corner. Hearn and Crowder didn’t even block anyone, it was all Gallman, Leggett, and Williams. Watson then only needed to reach the corner. Brock Huard hit the nail on the head during the broadcast when he spoke of Clemson’s need for diversity in the run game. He essentially put our critiques on national television and we should be grateful...

Wake ball, 6:12, Wake 35, 14-0 Clemson lead

12 shotgun vs 4-3, bucksweep handoff gains 3...11 shotgun vs 4-3 Will fire, Smith fills in run support and makes a stop after 2 yards...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3 Will bullet, comeback route thrown too far inside and Tank has the interception but drops it while diving, PUNT.

Seriously Wake should just probably just punt on 1st down before something bad happens.

Clemson ball, 4:38, Clemson 32, 14-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3, screen to Cain gains 1, good block by Leggett but Cain couldn’t break the safety tackle...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, slant complete to Ray-Ray for 5 yards...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4 double LB bullets, Cain works the slant for a gain of 14...

11 shotgun vs 4-3, option toss sweep to Fuller gains 6...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, PA, fly route to Cain overthrown, wind certainly carried this one out of Cain’s reach, tough to give Watson a pass for another overthrow but a 20 mph wind at your back will do this...11 empty shotgun vs 4-3, blitz gets through but Watson hits Williams on the slant, breaks a tackle and gains 22...

11 shotgun vs 4-3, ZR keeper gains 7...11 shotgun vs 4-3, counter handoff to Fuller who misses the hole behind Leggett and loses a yard...fade to Williams complete for a touchdown, beast.

Wake ball, 1:10, Wake 25, 21-0 Clemson lead

12 ace vs 4-3, jet sweep, Bryant sets the edge and forces back inside, Jadar makes a hard tackle, gain of 1...

1 minute left in the quarter and Swinney calls timeout, hoping to force a punt this quarter to keep the wind in Wake’s face, I love it.

11 shotgun vs 4-3, swing pass in the flat dropped...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, fly route incomplete, perhaps even offensive pass interference, Venables almost passes out while arguing, breathe easily please Brent...

Clemson ball, :42, Clemson 48, 21-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3, slant incomplete to Williams, he was open but Watson missed a little high, still should’ve been caught...11 shotgun vs 4-3, tunnel screen to Williams gains 8...11 shotgun vs 4-3, slant complete to Scott, 1st down...

End of quarter, excellent showing for a team who finally looks like number 4...for now.