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Clemson Dismantles South Carolina: 1st Quarter Film Review

Apparently roosters can lay eggs after all.

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

Clemson ran over and through South Carolina Saturday night to not only show the country the power of its finally-realized potential, but to show high school juniors and sophomores that Will Muschamp has yet to change anything — assuming he even can. Remember, South Carolina’s glory years came when the state of SC produced an unheard of amount of quality high school talent, and the Gamecocks were able to cash in on it in the fallout of the Bowden to Swinney transition.

Obliterating the Gamecocks was a necessity not for Clemson’s postseason hopes — even before this beatdown, Clemson would’ve been in the CFP no matter how ugly its wins are as long as it doesn’t lose again — but because Clemson needed to show an impressive crop of in-state juniors in attendance just how far apart these programs remain. South Carolina does not often pull 4 or 5 star out of state prospects from the surrounding regional powers (Clemson, FSU, and the SEC) so keeping the Gamecocks in their place requires keeping the state’s top prospects out of their hands whenever there is actually a good bunch. Nothing helps that effort quite like a beatdown.

I lazily (as in, apologetically aware of my own arrogance) predicted a blowout all week but even I didn’t expect the level of dominance I witnessed. This was likely the most dominant display in the history of the rivalry, not simply from a misleadingly small 50 point margin was the largest since 1900, but because it very well could’ve been a 70 or 80 point margin had Clemson not dropped 3 touchdown catches or pulled its starters in the 3rd quarter. Or punted from inside South Carolina’s 40 yard line in the second half. South Carolina only scored because of a 3rd down personal foul penalty and subsequent trick play. No, there was far more than a 50 point difference between these programs Saturday night and South Carolina should be grateful (in contrast to their whiny Clemson bullying claims) for the mercifully small margin of defeat.

What’s more satisfying: running up the score with the starters, or SCORING ANYWAY DESPITE 3RD STRING BACKS/RECEIVERS AND WALK ON OFFENSIVE LINEMEN? Is trying not to score an apologetic display of respect, or is shutting down in a competition the ultimate disrespect? I craved more points Saturday night, but either way it was a beatdown with which even I can be satisfied. My Monday morning gift to you: the Garnet & Black Attack Gamethread. Take your breakfast well-salted this morning boys and girls. Clemson’s garbage time unit —with mere zone read and screen passes — matched South Carolina’s entire point total.


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

South Carolina ball, 14:56, SC 26 yard line

11 shotgun vs 4-3 (O’Daniel split out in coverage) man cover 1 Will bullet, fade to Edwards thrown out of bounds...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, PA jet sweep, TE wheel route open but tipped by Wilkins at the line...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, pass tipped by Carter and the interception is somehow dropped by O’Daniel, PUNT.

The SC offensive line is overwhelmed and they know it. The DTs are getting through the guards immediately after the snap. No attempt at running, merely trying to get the ball out quickly. Clemson has absolutely no respect for South Carolina’s passing game if they’re sticking in 4-3 base against 11 personnel. Not even bothering with a dime blitz on 3rd and long. Venables slapping Roper in the face from the start.

Clemson ball, 14:32, Clemson 32

11 shotgun vs nickel, IZ, the whole line gets great movement and Gallman finds an easy 15...

LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL SIGHT. LOOK AT TYRONE CROWDER 3 YARDS DOWNFIELD ONE MERE SECOND AFTER THE SNAP. I said before the game that the run game was the key to a blowout and oh boy is this how you set a tone.

11 empty vs nickel, quick out to Leggett overthrown wide, one of Watson’s 6 incompletions on the day...11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR dive gains 5 when Gallman bounces outside...11 shotgun vs nickel cover 3, Watson finds Renfrow on a simple in route between the linebackers’ zones, gain of 10...

11 shotgun vs nickel cover 3, ZR RPO pass to Scott gains 15, haven’t seen much of this play since the days of Tajh and Sammy...

This is Clemson’s version of the triple option: Gallman run, Watson run, or Scott screen. These are the types of calls we’ve lacked while criticizing play-calling. Worth noting the OL blew SC off the ball again and Gallman may have gained the 15 himself. This is erotic and it’s only gonna get better.

11 shotgun vs nickel, screen to Scott gains 6...11 shotgun vs nickel Mike bullet, bucksweep, blitzing Mike splits the pulling Hearn and Crowder, Gallman tackled for a loss of 5...11 shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 Mike bullet Will spy, slant to Williams open when corner falls down but it’s thrown hard and a bit high, straight through Williams’ hands but an easier throw is a sure touchdown, FIELD GOAL BLOCKED.

At halftime the score should’ve been roughly 49-0 and this was one of those missed opportunities. The kick was just too low but Williams always seems to drop a “relatively” easy catch while pulling in all the circus catches. It hit him in both hands but it still wasn’t an accurate ball; points off the board.

SC ball, 12:09, SC 22

11 shotgun vs 4-3 man cover 1 robber, fake screen wheel route overthrown, Smith was beaten but it’s an easy pick for Jadar, pretty much game over in hindsight.

South Carolina’s “savior” is 0-4 with an ugly interception. He’s not getting any help from the offensive line, behind which SC knows it can’t run or try any long-developing routes. Every play has been a quick lob searching for a bust or pass interference call. Clemson is still in 4-3, further discouraging the SC run game and betting Bentley won’t hold up behind his line. Venables didn’t even have to try, this is honestly unfair.

Clemson ball, 12:03, SC 47

11 shotgun vs nickel, fake jet sweep power finds another easy chunk, Crowder didn’t pull particularly smoothly but got a head of steam and kept Gallman free until the second level, easy gain of 9...11 shotgun vs nickel (strength to boundary), ZR keeper gains 5...

11 shotgun vs nickel cover 4, go route to Williams with no safety help and thus SC’s weak corners are vulnerable (not to pat myself on the back for the scouting report but gosh it was too easy to predict, such a horribly undermanned and unprepared team), Williams makes the best catch of the season and the rout is on, TOUCHDOWN.

Talent gap.

SC ball, 11:08, SC 25, 7-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, power handoff gets stoned, gain of 1...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4, TIGHT END SHOVEL PASS BECAUSE ROPER FINDS SELF-SCOUTING INCONCEIVABLE, STONED FOR NO GAIN...11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM 3 man rush man cover 2, pressure gets there immediately anyway, fade/go route overthrown out of bounds, PUNT.

Seriously this matchup is so unfair I’ve almost developed a sense of pity after FIVE MINUTES OF REVIEW.

Clemson ball, 9:42, Clemson 35, 7-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel, jet sweep gains big yardage but Williams’ holding brings it back, but since the flag was 20 yards downfield Clemson actually gains 10 yards, it’s that kind of night for SC...

11 shotgun vs nickel, counter handoff, Gallman follows Leggett who gets a good seal, gain of 8 more...11 pistol vs nickel, ZR keeper gains 5...

11 shotgun vs nickel, fake jet sweep counter handoff, I’ve been hard on Hearn all year but he moves the DT HALFWAY TO THE FREAKING SIDELINE, HUGE HOLE BEHIND HIS SEAL for another 7...11 shotgun vs nickel, jet sweep to Scott hit for no gain, Garrett Williams didn’t block anyone, looked he like he was running a route, mental bust...11 shotgun vs nickel double LB fire, slant complete under pressure to Williams, gain of 6...

11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR RPO pass to Scott gains 4, defender was blocked but knocked Scott out of bounds on his way to the ground...11 pistol vs nickel, ZR keeper gains 5, Watson just outran two defenders to the corner who had an angle on him...11 pistol vs nickel, ZR handoff stuffed...4th & inches, Gallman won’t be denied again, gains 2...

11 pistol vs nickel cover 3, PA pulls the safety too shallow to help defend the slant since the corner was bailing into his deep third, slant to Williams wide open AND HE CARRIES DUDES 8 YARDS INTO THE ENDZONE, HOLY GOD MIKE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

SC was getting gashed in the run game and play action opened Williams underneath who then decided to further increase his draft stock.

SC ball, 5:47, SC 22, 14-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun (tight) vs 4-3, IZ, Smith immediately fills and redirects Dowdle directly into Dexter Lawrence, poor Dowdle, gain of 2...11 shotgun vs 4-3, 3 man rush cover 3, quick tunnel screen has a hole but Edmond chases from the backside and makes an excellent shoestring tackle, gain of 3...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, slant route was open (possible offensive PI) but Wilkins tipped it at the line, FAKE PUNT FAILS HORRIBLY AS ONLY A MUSCHAMP FAKE PUNT CAN POSSIBLY FAIL.

Muschamp taught his Florida players to block one another so it’s good to see this sort of coaching consistency translate to teaching his South Carolina players to tackle one another. Football is all about blocking and tackling; Muschamp is an underrated fundamentals coach IMO.

Clemson ball, 4:15, SC 32, 14-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel, fake jetsweep counter, Fuller gains 4 behind Crowder...11 shotgun vs nickel, fake jet sweep power handoff behind BIG JOHN SIMPSON, Fuller hits the second level untouched for another 15, Fuller doesn’t always find the hole but when he does he has great burst...

11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR keeper gains 2...11 shotgun vs nickel Will fire cover 3, ZR dive, read man bullrushed and clips Gallman, no gain...11 shotgun (trips right) vs nickel cover 4, Leggett wide open in the back of the endzone on a deep slant, TOUCHDOWN.

The safety (#24) completely busted cover 4 by chasing Scott inside and leaving nobody to cover his zone, right where Leggett caught the ball.

SC ball, 2:00, SC 14, 21-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3, power handoff gains 3 somehow...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, PA sucks in the linebackers plus Smith, Bentley tries to hit the open slant but Smith recovers to tip the pass, well done Van...false start...11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM OVERLOAD BLITZ, Carter and Boulware blitz off the strong side and Dowdle totally whiffs in pass pro vs Boulware, Carter comes unblocked and almost kills Bentley with Boulware, big sack, PUNT.

This is heaven, visualized.

Clemson ball, :30, Clemson 31, 21-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun (bunch field) vs nickel, screen to Scott gains 12...

11 shotgun vs nickel, bucksweep to Gallman gains 13...