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Clemson Triggers NC State: 1st Quarter Film Review

Might this be a rivalry now? Saturday’s win over NC State still feels different than usual.

Clemson v North Carolina State Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Well this will leave a bad taste in my mouth for a while; the Clemson defense was absolutely embarrassed, and State fans absolutely embarrassed themselves in what I usually find to be a pleasant, if not congenial, road trip to Carter-Finley Stadium. State had legitimate gripes with some no-calls for pass interference against Clemson late in the game, State caught their share of breaks earlier in the contest. Officiating is always fickle, but I’ve never seen a group so ignorantly question routine/obvious calls; not to mention how they treated the officials after the game:

Yet no one embarrassed himself, predictably, quite like Dave Doeren.

The best thing I can say about what I witnessed in Raleigh Saturday — and its lingering effects — is that the “Textile Bowl” or whatever it was once called might in fact be a rivalry now. The history has always been strong between the two schools and programs, but rivalries require entertaining games played with high stakes, and that’s just what we found in Raleigh.

Despite Clemson’s dominance, often the games between Clemson and State have been largely unpredictable or whacky in some fashion. Most importantly though, State brought raised stakes to this game and the contest truly felt important to both sides; something Clemson fans have almost never said about a ho-hum match-up against the Wolfpack.

But back to Doeren: the final key ingredient to a real rivalry...hatred. Clemson fans have hated Dave Doeren since his Wayne Gallman comments a year ago (perhaps taken out of context by what is admittedly a hyper-sensitive online Clemson fan base but nevertheless egregious) and the man only fueled the flames in his post game comments. Doeren bore the soul of a man who knows he blew what could be his only shot to take a step up in the ACC — given the Wolfpack will turn over essentially their entire roster this offseason — and likely won’t have a team this good again in the foreseeable future. But the excuses and whining are his nature, and dare I say a perfect fit for a perpetually overlooked and bitter program.

Wow! Look at my condescending snark! I’ve never cared to bother with any sort emotion for State before! Clemson at large has always found them the least hate-able of the Duke/State/Carolina triumvirate; could this be budding dislike growing? Congrats Doeren, you have indeed given this dormant rivalry a pulse after all!

Nearly 48 hours later and I am still in a state of utter depression/denial regarding what I saw from a Venables defense on Saturday. Soft coverage and no havoc at all; Venables treated State like an explosive team which could score on any play, not the ultra-conservative, efficiency-dependent machine it is. The only explanation I have is that Venables wanted to protect his depleted cornerback roster with soft coverage, but it still let State operate exactly how it wanted.

After Amir Trapp gave up the opening post route touchdown, press coverage was seemingly thrown out. I had an aneurism when I saw Trapp trot out at field corner in a 3-3-5 nickel on that opening 3rd down (Terrell replaced him at field corner in that formation until he was injured) and sure enough my head exploded when he was beaten so easily. It was one of the few plays in which Finley was pressured and we were content to let them do whatever they wanted underneath from there on. Survived anyway...

Clemson ball, 15:00, Clemson 25 yard line

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Feaster, interior OL gets stood up and Feaster is hit in the backfield but churns for a gain of 2. Feaster ran straight into the scrum when there was an initial hole on the back side, but the safety was filling it anyway.
2nd & 8 11 shotgun vs nickel Straight drop, back shoulder fade to Cain incomplete, blatant interference missed. State defintely could end up making its case for missed PI calls late, but Clemson was similarly victimized. Easy for the losing team to forget all the mistakes which went in their favor.
3rd & 8 10 shotgun vs nickel Straight drop vs cover 2 Will bullet/SS fire, Feaster protects the wrong side and can't block the safety blitz, Bryant rolls away from it and misses a wide open Renfrow on the sideline, intercepted. Worst start imaginable. The zone blitz fooled the protection and Bryant missed the open man by a mile.

NC State ball, 14:25, Clemson 40

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 20 wildcat vs 4-3 IZ keeper by Samuels strung out, hit for a loss of 1 by Ferrell. Wildcat keepers won't work without sweep motion against this front, dumb call.
2nd & 11 11 pistol vs 4-3 IZ to Hines gains 1, no room to run inside. Lawrence STOOD UP A DOUBLE TEAM AND MADE THE TACKLE, WASN'T PUSHED BACK AT ALL.
3rd & 9 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 (Carter NB, Trapp FCB) Straight drop vs man cover 1 LB bullets, deep post gets behind Trapp so so so easily and it's a cheap touchdown. Why the staff thought they could put Trapp in at any point in this game is beyond me. You'll notice on the next drive we put Terrell at FCB when in the 3-3-5.

Clemson ball, 13:03, Clemson 30, 7-0 NCSU lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 21 shotgun (McCloud in backfield) vs nickel IZ to Feaster gains 2. Feaster made it to the second level but the corner released Cain and filled.
2nd & 8 11 shotgun vs nickel IV keeper, Bryant knives through the front for a gain of 18. The inverted veer keeper and counter to Etienne are the two most effective run plays in the book. Bryant runs it so smoothly. It was refreshing to see Clemson hammer this play in the 2nd half.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Feaster stuffed by Chubb, who stunted inside and was unblocked, gain of 1. State trusts its front to control the ground game and stunts into running lanes show why.
2nd & 9 21 shotgun vs nickel Counter to Feaster gets through the line (great blocks by Crowder and Richard), stiff arm gets Feaster 5 yards. State is crashing the run hard now, 2nd down around midfield is usually when Clemson takes its deep shots so I would've liked to have seen one there.
3rd & 9 11 shotgun vs nickel False start...straight drop vs cover 4, Bryant misses an open comeback to McCloud, punt. Just an awful start through the air for Bryant. Way off on his accuracy.

State ball, 11:09, State 15, 7-0 State lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick screen to Hines, Lamar chases it down from inside while Smith and OD blow it up from outside, no gain. Clemson took away the State screen and swing game, too quick outside for them.
2nd & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick slant against soft coverage complete in front of Mullen, gain of 6. And so begins the bane of my existence Saturday night...slants into soft coverage.
3rd & 4 10 shotgun vs 3-3-5 Straight drop vs man cover 1 Will bullet, pass tipped and caught by Finley, brought down for a loss of 2 by Ferrell. Punt!!!! This is peak efficiency, catching your own passes. Eager to see Renfrow do this against Bama in January.
Ray-Ray finally gets his. Credit where it’s due to Trapp for making the final block to clear the way. A bit of redemption!

State ball, 8:59, State 35, 7-7 tie

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Stretch handoff to Samuel, Wilkins chases him down from the back side, gain of 1. I was disappointed in the DL pressure throughout the night but Wilkins is always good to knife through zone blocks when he isn't doubled.
2nd & 9 11 pistol vs 4-3 PA vs cover 4, Joseph gets lost in coverage due to the PA and the deep cross is open behind him, gain of 16. This was ugly from Joseph, completely turned around and running right out of his zone looking for the crossing route which was running past him.
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 PA slant vs man cover 1 complete in front of Muse, gain of 8. PA pulled Joseph out of his underneath zone again and opened a throwing lane in front of Muse.
2nd & 2 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Power option, Ferrell takes away the pitch and crashes Finley, stuffing it himself, loss of 1 and his 3rd TFL of the quarter. Reading Ferrell is probably a bad strategy.
3rd & 3 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion sweep to Hines, Lamar chases him down from inside again and makes the huge tackle, stopped short of the 1st.
4th & inches 14 ace vs 5-3 Sweep to Samuels, edge set but Samuels fakes inside to open the edge and beats Smith to the corner. Clemson had it stuffed but Samuels just makes plays like this routinely.
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick slant vs man cover 1, easy completion again, gain of 6. Disappointing to see no adjustments to the quick slant.
2nd & 4 11 pistol vs 4-3 Stretch handoff to Samuels, Wilkins splits a double but is held, freeing 15 yards up the middle. Again, plenty of missed calls went in State's favor.
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 Strectch to Samuels again, Joseph and OD clean up, gain of 6. State cut blocked Wilkins and Lawrence...hmm.
2nd & 4 11 pistol vs 4-3 IZ to Samuels, cuts back, OD fills and makes the stop, gain of 3. Clemson DL got stood up, no penetration, sealed out.
3rd & 1 12 ace vs 5-4 PA seam against man, Chad Smith called for PI. Tough to get your hands off a receiver when you're engaged in his block.

Samuels punches it in 2 plays later.

Clemson ball, 2:18, Clemson 29, 14-7 State lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 20 shotgun vs nickel PA go route vs man cover 1 bullet blitzes, Fernandez gets through and hits Bryant on the pass, incomplete. Etienne had to pick two defenders to block but didn't pick up either.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Straight drop, Bryant looking at the go route to Cain again against man cover 1, overthrown incomplete. Bryant is still horribly off.
3rd & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Deep hitch complete to Renfrow vs man cover 2, gain of 10. A well placed ball but this play is made by Renfrow, who went up and protected the late/slow pass.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter handoff to Etienne, State rallies to the hole and Etienne only gets 2. Clemson blocked this well but State overwhelmed with numbers.
2nd & 8 Empty shotgun vs nickel Quick out to Renfrow horribly overthrown, luck it wasn't intercepted. Renfrow couldn't even attempt to go up for the pass since he thought it was thrown to someone behind him.
3rd & 8 11 shotgun vs nickel Comeback route to Cain, diving catch made along the sideline, gain of 18. Those wanting him to lay out should be satisfied.
4th & inches 11 shotgun vs nickel ZR keeper, more like a QB iso behind Fuller initially stopped, Bryant keeps churning and gains 2. Fuller served primarily as a lead blocker in this game; whenever he was in it was usually to lead block a Bryant run. Quite effective.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel RPO deep seam to Thompson, wide open, thrown late, high, and slow, easy touchdown becomes incomplete. 100% Bryant's fault here. He is late on the trigger and threw a poor ball, letting the defense recover and leaving Thompson out to dry.
2nd & 10 Empty shotgun vs nickel Quick slant vs soft cover 4 complete to Rodgers, gain of 6. Let's run quick slants at each other until the coaches agree to throw them out of the gameplan.

End of quarter.