clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Clemson Shuts Out Syracuse: 1st Quarter Film Review

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

Military Appreciation Day is the best game of the year, no matter the opponent. I can even stomach the purple for it (but still won’t wear it myself, hate all you want). I had never seen/heard A-10s in person and to hear those engines at the conclusion of the anthem was the highlight of my day...only to be outdone by the skydiving Tiger mascot minutes later. A beautifully done production from start to finish.

over 16 years ago, as a young skydiver, I started doing ground crew for a demo team. Ever since, I've had a dream and personal goal of jumping into Clemson memorial stadium (Death Valley). Today I had the privilege of making that dream come true! Since the jump, I've seen videos and pictures from all different angles. Here is the jump from my point of view. I left the sound in the show the explosive roars of the crowd

Posted by Peanutt Paige on Saturday, November 5, 2016

Finally, a game which proceeded as it should have! No drama, plenty of reps for backups, and no serious injuries...barely. The one critique on the entire day is of course the decision to run a wildcat package for Kelly Bryant in the first half. A year ago against Syracuse, a Bryant carry and fumble turned a quick 14-0 lead into a close game. This year, two Bryant no-gainers result in a 3rd & 10 when Deshaun Watson goes back in at quarterback, who then has to scramble for a first down and ultimately hurts his throwing shoulder on a hard tackle.

I’m all for Bryant getting reps, but save it for the second half. There’s no need to get cute like that in the first half when your Heisman hopeful is playing the best game of his season, and frankly, needs big stats to catch up with Lamar Jackson (if possible) in the race. Luckily the injury wasn’t serious and Watson could’ve returned, but there’s still no reason to 1) show it on film against Syracuse or 2) take Watson away from the quarterback position before his day is done. This was the best Watson looked all season, and it’s a shame his day was cut shorter than it otherwise would’ve been.


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

Syracuse ball, 14:55, Syracuse 22 yard line

Empty shotgun vs nickel personnel but Ferrell is standing up like a 3-4 OLB, this is Venables’ counter to the Cuse quick screen game, quick slant incomplete...

Syracuse has quite possibly the worst running game in college football so Venables knew he could handle any runs with 3 down linemen; the perimeter screens were the concern so he pulled the weak side DE into the flat when Cuse showed 4 and 5 wide. With Ferrell split to the boundary, Clemson could defend quick passes to both boundary receivers without bringing Smith down to the line of scrimmage.

2nd & 10, 10 ace vs nickel, quick tunnel screen gains 4, Jadar closed quickly...10 shotgun vs dime man cover 1, nothing open, Wilkins and Watkins finish the play with a sack, PUNT.

Clemson ball, 13:16, Syracuse 41 yard line

11 shotgun vs nicke NB bire, weakside bucksweep to Gallman gains 5, Hearn had a great seal in space to give him the corner...empty shotgun vs nickel cover 3, QB draw gains 3 yards...11 shotgun vs nickel, 4 man rush gets through and Watson checks down to Williams on the underneath drag, tackle for a gain of 1...4th & 2, 12 shotgun vs 4-3, IZ handoff gets the tough yardage, gain of 3...

11 shotgun vs nickel NB fire cover 3, screen to Renfrow, patented Renfrow spin move buys him some space before he drags a tackler and gains 10...11 shotgun vs nickel, rollout draw handoff to Fuller, Leggett gets the key block(!) to get Fuller to the second level, tripped up by the safety filling the alley otherwise he might’ve scored, Williams had a great block on the perimeter, gain of 10...

11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR handoff to Gallman gains 2, great open field tackle, thought Wayne would run through him...11 shotgun vs nickel, power handoff to Gallman gains 2 more...11 shotgun vs 4-3, crossing route to William in the back of the endzone is dropped, field goal good.

Syracuse ball, 9:18 Syracuse 38, 3-0 Clemson lead

10 shotgun vs nickel cover 4, spacing route (all curls) incomplete, quick pass batted down by Wilkins...10 shotgun vs nickel cover 4, Dungey tucks and runs, met by Ferrell, gain of 4...10 shotgun vs dime 3 man rush, man cover 1 with linebacker robber/spy, boundary comeback route complete in front of Tank, gain of 9...

10 shotgun (trips boundary) vs nickel, speed option, Wilkins forces the pitch and Carter flies the alley but is blocked in the back, flag...delay of game...10 shotgun vs nickel, Dungey tries to scramble through a lane but is met by Joseph, no gain...10 shotgun vs nickel cover 4, RB screen with blockers, but with Clemson in a 3 man rush and zone behind it, defenders fly to the ball quickly despite the blocks, gain of 9...10 shotgun (trips boundary) vs nickel cover 4, fake screen/wheel, thrown too late and Tank makes the tackle 2 yards short of the marker, PUNT.

Clemson has absolutely no fear of the Syracuse run game. They’re content to let Dungey try and scramble since they don’t respect it, but daring Syracuse to try inside zone or zone read with only 3 defenders on the line of scrimmage. Ferrell is almost always split out (particularly against trips formations to the boundary) to head off screens and it’s working brilliantly.

Clemson ball, 6:53, Clemson 41, 3-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel, holding on Hyatt...11 shotgun vs nickel, tunnel screen to Cain blown up so he tries to reverse field, ends up losing 10 yards...11 shotgun vs nickel, counter handoff to Gallman gains 5...empty shotgun vs dime, Williams finds a hole in the cover 4 on the deep crossing route, but he’s a few yards short, PUNT.

Syracuse ball, 4:51, Syracuse 26, 3-0 Clemson lead

10 shotgun vs nickel cover 3, PA, slant looks wide open but Carter is underneath and reads it perfectly, interception and return down to the 15.

Carter actually baited this throw by stepping up on the run fake. Dungey thought he had a throwing lane but Carter was still in position to defend the slant.

Clemson ball, 4:42, Syracuse 15, 3-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR bucksweep handoff to Fuller, Morris leads the way and Fuller breaks the corner’s tackle, gain of 10...11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR bucksweep to Fuller again, gains 3...11 shotgun vs 4-3, QB sweep is an easy touchdown for Watson, I like the play call to run him off the edge with an escort instead of trying to push him through the middle.

Guillermo and Fuller didn’t have to block anyone.

Syracuse ball, 3:44, Syracuse 11, 10-0 Clemson lead

12 shotgun vs nickel, tunnel screen well-executed and blocked, Tank misplayed it by getting caught outside between blockers and the receiver, gain of 12...

11 shotgun vs 4-3, ZR keeper, O’Daniel and Boulware make the tackle after a gain of 7...11 shotgun vs 4-3, IZ gains nothing...10 epmty shotgun vs dime man under cover 2 curl route complete in front of Boulware in man coverage, penalty for his suplex tackle...

Ignoring the penalty because it’s largely irrelevant, Babers beat Venables here. If I’m Venables I try and check out of this call when I see it brings Boulware out to essentially play cornerback.

11 shotgun vs nickel, fake screen, TE flare but Clemson wasn’t fooled, pass tipped at the line...11 shotgun vs nickel, IZ handoff gains 1...11 shotgun vs nickel Will/FS fire in front of cover 3, quick slant complete in front of Fields, lots of running room, gain of 17...

Illegal formation...false start...10 shotgun vs nickel, comeback route incomplete in front of Tank...11 shotgun vs nickel (WILKINS SPLIT OUT!) NB fire in front of cover 3, tunnel screen read by Boulware, steps over the cut block attempt and has an easy TFL, loss of 3...