After a dismal first quarter that brought us nothing but pain and heartache, Clemson needed some sort of offensive surge coming into the second quarter. Watson and company look rusty, almost like they thought this was the preseason and the real games hand not started yet. On the other hand, the replenished defense looked like it was handling itself well, and looks to improve in the coming weeks.
Once the teams switched sides for the second half, Auburn was resuming a drive around their own 30 yard line.
2nd 15:00; 3rd & 10
Clemson finds themselves in a great defensive position, forcing a 3rd & 10 for Auburn's struggling offense. However, if you look at the picture above, there is a huge scheme issue with this being a 3rd down play.
Notice that on the left side of the offensive scheme, the cornerback and safety for Clemson are at about 10 and 12 yards away from the line of scrimmage. Ideally we want to see our boys pressed up a little bit more to keep the offense from getting enough cushion to get a 10 yard first down play. The play would result in a 12 yard pass for a 1st down.
2nd 13:08; 3rd & 6
This is the 3rd down play that led to Auburn scoring the first points of the game (field goal). Sophomore linebacker Jalen Williams would end up making the stop on the near side of the field, breaking up a high pass intended for the slot receiver. Clemson did a great job on this play of containing the quarterback while only sending 5 men on the rush. The corners also shut down the ends of the field, forcing a Auburn favored match up between a linebacker and receiver to be the only option. Clemson ended up on the winning end of that match up though.
The quarter picked up as Watson found Mike Williams, who lost his mind in his comeback game, for the first down. This helped spark the Tiger's serge of offensive power.
2nd 12:47; 1st & 10
This play was a simply "10 and out" route for Mike Williams, who seemed to be giving the defensive backs trouble all night. This play began with an overloaded right side, allowing for the defense to send an extra linebacker to the right side of the scheme, freeing up the left a little more. Williams was able to get free on this play because Hunter Renfrow was essentially double covered by the linebacker as well as the the safety over the top. Williams running his route to perfection, had just enough room to open a window and allow Watson to complete the first down pass.
2nd 11:58; 2nd & 9
Moving further down the field, Watson and company found themselves facing a long 2nd & 9. Here he used, what I imagine will be the main weapon of the Clemson passing game, the back shoulder pass. This is when Deshaun will throw a ball behind a receiver who is usually running some sort of go or out route (a straight line). By throwing the ball just ever so slightly behind the receiver it allows the wide out to spot the ball and then turn to make the grab; rather than always having to make a play over the shoulder. This type of pass is 1. safer and 2. much more consistent that throwing deep bombs that could be a defensive back's best friend.
Here we see Watson throw a perfect, back shoulder pass, to Mike Williams. Williams takes off about 17 or so yards up the field and then simply turns around to find a perfectly thrown ball waiting for him. Watson throws the pass while Williams is about 7 yards away from where he will catch it, ensuring that it is virtually impossible for the defensive back to make a play on the ball.
Now we get to that moment when we all could take in that sigh of relief, we finally scored a touchdown. Wayne Train punched one in to give the Tiger's their first lead of the game, and it came from one of those rare Clemson "under center" formations. These packages have become almost obsolete for the Clemson faithful to see. Given that Clemson isn't the type of team that has drives that require many 1 or 2 yard touchdown runs, any formation where the quarterback is under center usually involves the word "victory" in it.
2nd 7:39; 4th & Goal
But that wasn't the case here. Watson lined the Tiger offense up in what is known as the "full-house" formation. This features three people in the back field, usually with the backs lined up in a 3-man triangle, and the tailback furthest from the line. This formation, for the most part, also means there are no receivers on the field, instead a package of tight ends on either side of the line, to add some extra blocking. And finally, the quarterback under center, ready to take the snap and hand the ball to the tailback. The freight train of blocking in front of Wayne made this play as easy as possible. Watch as he walks untouched into the endzone.
The rest of the half was rather painful. We got a last second field goal from Greg Huegel, but other than that a hot mess of plays that if we're being honest, we don't want to watch. So looking forward, Clemson should be back in the form that we have come to expect form them, hopefully giving us more plays to breakdown and dissect as the season progresses.