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Clemson 31, Ohio State 0: First Quarter Film Review

Clemson’s defense protected the Tigers during a sloppy, slow start before the blowout began to take shape late in the 1st quarter.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The stage is set for redemption. In the very stadium where Clemson fell short against Alabama a year ago, the Tigers delivered a historical beatdown to the Ohio State Buckeyes to earn a rematch with the Crimson Tide. It took Clemson a while to warm up offensively, but as in last year’s semifinal, the defense delivered its best performance of the year and never gave Ohio State an inch and refused to let them cash in on early Clemson mistakes and field position. And once the offense got it together, goodness, Clemson’s fabled stratospheric ceiling wasn’t so far out of reach. There is no way to overstate this beatdown; Clemson found garbage time for its backups in a top three contest.


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

Ohio State Ball, 14:53, Ohio State 33

11 shotgun vs 4-3 over, jet sweep to Samuel, O’Daniel semi-sets the edge and Joseph is able to knife through blockers to make the tackle along the sideline, gain of 4...11 shotgun vs 4-3, quick screen to Samuel swallowed up immediately by O’Daniel, loss of 2...empty shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4 zone blitz (Ferrell drops in coverage, Joseph bullet), underneath swing pass to Weber dropped, PUNT.

Clemson ball, 13:37, Clemson 17

11 shotgun vs nickel cover 1, jet sweep to Scott but one defender occupies both Leggett and Gallman blocks, gain of 1...empty shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 spy, deep out to Williams underthrown and intercepted, would’ve been picked even had Williams not slipped...

Ohio State ball, 13:11, Clemson 33

11 shotgun vs 4-3, power option keeper, Smith fills quickly and teams with Ferrell on a hard tackle after 2 yards...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, comeback route complete in front of Tank, gain of 7...3rd & 1, 11 shotgun vs 4-3 man cover 1, QB sweep, Ferrell splits the B gap instantly and brings Barrett down for a 5 yard loss, saving Clemson 3 points because the FIELD GOAL IS MISSED.

Excellent stand after sudden change on a short field. If you can’t cash in on Clemson’s mistakes, you don’t stand a chance.

Shoot the gap

Clemson ball, 11:52, Clemson 30

11 shotgun vs nickel FS fire, IZ handoff right into the FS gains nothing...empty shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 spy, spacing RPO, Watson keeps and gains 2...11 shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 Mike bullet, Watson checks off the safety and fires a laser to Williams on the slant, perfectly thrown in stride and Williams is galloping, but stumbles and is caught from behind, gain of 37...

This throw.

11 shotgun vs nickel, ZR dive to Gallman gains 1...11 shotgun vs nickel, fake jet sweep power handoff, Gallman bounces outside but McMillan has the quickness to get Gallman’s feet from behind, gain of 1...11 shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 spy/robber, go route to Cain in the endzone overthrown, not open anyway, FIELD GOAL GOOD.

Game over ;)

Ohio State ball, 9:06, Clemson 42, 3-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 3, quick curl open but pass batted down at the line...11 shotgun vs 4-3, O’Daniel on LOS and Ferrell basically playing Will:

Nobody open and Barrett scrambles for 9 yards...FALSE START, 3rd & 6, empty shotgun vs 4-3 man cover 1 Will bullet, rollout, dump off to Samuel on the sideline picks up the first down...

11 ace vs 4-3, power jet sweep to Samuel is read instantly and Ferrell beats the pulling guard into the backfield, can’t run that play against a good DE, loss of 8...empty shotgun vs 4-3, QB power is again stoned by Ferrell in the backfield, no gain...11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM 3 man rush cover 4, Barrett scrambles and throws incomplete to the corner of the endzone, FIELD GOAL MISSED AGAIN.

Another short field and another defensive stand. Ferrell is leading a monster effort from the entire line. Scott Pagano is back and making a huge difference with the fresh legs inside. (Sneak peek for my expectations vs Bama: Clemson is better on offense than a year ago and deeper on defense; Bama is worse on offense than a year ago and perhaps not quite as deep on defense. I like our chances).

Clemson ball, 5:59, Clemson 30, 3-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs nickel, power handoff to Gallman gains 1...empty shotgun vs nickel cover 1 Mike/NB overload blitz, Watson throws to Renfrow in the hole behind the blitz, easy 14 yards...

11 shotgun vs nickel man cover 2, deep fade to Williams caught on along the sideline, simply an amazing catch.

These are the man-beater plays I felt Clemson would need to find success. Turns out they didn’t need much after all.

11 shotgun vs nickel, inverted veer/jet sweep handoff to Scott gains 5, all of which were from Scott’s effort since Renfrow missed his block...11 shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 spy, PA counter, deep fade to Williams in the endzone just out of reach...empty shotgun vs nickel man cover 1 robber, quick curl complete to Cain against soft coverage, easy 9 yards...

11 shotgun vs nickel, fake sweep power option keeper gains 2...11 shotgun vs nickel, IZ handoff gains 5...11 shotgun vs nickel man cover 1, crossing routes free Renfrow on the out route and it’s an easy first down inside the 5...

Watson takes the ZR keeper in from the 1, EASY TOUCHDOWN.

Ohio State ball, 2:10, Ohio State 23, 10-0 Clemson lead

11 shotgun vs 4-3, jet sweep to Samuel immediately redirected inside, corralled by the DL for no gain...11 shotgun vs 4-3 cover 4 Sam fire, post complete in front of Edmond across the middle, gain of 20...

11 shotgun shifts to 21 with Samuel in the backfield vs 4-3, triple option dive to Samuel gains 6...11 shotgun vs 4-3, quick swing pass to Weber met in the backfield by the unblocked Edmond, great low tackle from a 175 pounder against a big back, loss of 3...11 shotgun vs nickel cover 4 WDE drop/Will bullet, nobody open and Barrett is finally sacked by Watkins, loss of 1, PUNT.