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ACC Championship Film Review: 1st Quarter

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NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Undisputed #1. Remember all offseason when the message coming from central Alabama and the midlands of South Carolina focused only on what Clemson lost after 2016? That Clemson would struggle to win 8 games without its savior Deshaun Watson and that Dabo the clown would shake in fear at what is being built by another former Florida coach elsewhere? No matter what happens from here, there are no more doubters.

Count me among those who lowered his expectations (not to the extent alluded to above, of course) and did not necessarily expect to even be in the ACC Championship game, let alone the playoff again. My expectations naturally skyrocketed in September, when Deondre Francois’ injury effectively tanked the Florida State from the opening weekend, and were cemented when I saw Kelly Bryant’s performances against Auburn and Louisiville. He had a few ups and down in the following weeks, but his performance Saturday night showed a higher ceiling than I thought possible, and with it, made Clemson a favorite to repeat. All in a relative rebuilding year. I repeat: Clemson is the #1 seed IN A REBUILDING YEAR.

So take a moment this morning to appreciate this 2017 team and what they’ve accomplished despite the turnover and doubt. Take another moment to be glad this isn’t U:

Clemson ball, 14:54, Clemson 32

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 20 shotgun vs 4-3 Bubble to Renfrow gains 4. Renfrow had space but Richard couldn't seal or block the Sam.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO keeper by Bryant vs double LB bullets, no gain. Bryant wanted to toss the ball out to McCloud on the triple option extension but press took it away.
3rd & 6 10 shotgun (Higgins slot!) vs 3-2-6 Deep curl to Renfrow completely uncovered up the seam against cover 3, gain of 14. The nickel aligned over Renfrow but flew to the flat and the Mike was late covered the hook/curl.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Jet to McCloud gains 2. Ran a sweep to the boundary side, which is odd. Likely a quick tendency breaker.
2nd & 8 11 shotgun vs nickel Slant to Cain against cover 3 gains 8. Bryant is identifying the zone openings faster than I've seen him do so this year. He's getting the ball to holes before Miami can break.
3rd & 1 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IV jet sweep to McCloud (another tendency breaker) gains 5. Even with the formation strength to boundary (tipping McCloud's jet) Miami must've felt it's a QB keep all the way.
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs nickel Seam to Renfrow again wide open vs cover 3, a sharper throw and Renfrow walks into the endzone, gain of 23. Simply eating cover 3 alive. Miami has to adjust.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR keeper, nifty running and spinning by Bryant gains 8. With the success Bryant is having throwing (and continues to have throughout the half) Clemson can do literally anything it wants now.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR keeper, Bryant follows Feaster for 3 yards. Why has Clemson been so good in the red zone this year? Why has Clemson throwm for so few TDs this season? Different questions, same answer: outstanding running in the red zone.
1st & 4 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Etienne blasts into the endzone. Game over.

Miami ball, 10:30, Miami 25, 7-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick pitch to Homer gains 4. Wallace flew the alley to set the edge but missed, letting Homer slip inside for a few.
2nd & 11 (false start) 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Rollout deep post vs cover 3, double move beats Wallace and Thomas is wide open, underthrown and Wallace recovers to force the incompletion. Caught a break because Rozier is still a bad QB. Wallace got there a split second early as well.
3rd & 11 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs cover 4, Ferrell force Rozier to step up and scramble for 10. Love to see Wilkins chase down from behind and stop a fast QB short. Punt is muffed, Miami recovers.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Deep fade vs cover 3 LB bullets is overthrown incomplete. The blitz forced Rozier to throw on his first read.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA slant complete in front of tight pattern match, gain of 11. Miami's 2x2 bunch formation lets the lead receiver clear out for the underneath slant with ease.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick pitch to Homer met by Ferrell, gain of 1. Wilkins and Lawrence get all the love as run stuffers but Ferrell might be the most technically sound of the entire front line. Never let the line engage him and carried his blockers out wide to meet the runner.
2nd & 9 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR dive to Homer gains 4. Miami ran right at the open bubble in front of the unshaded right guard, easy yardage with 1 seal.
3rd & 6 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Reverse screen to Berrios is completely destroyed, loss of 8. FIELD GOAL MISSED. Smith and Ferrell read and flew in immediately, no chance for U.

Clemson ball, 6:09, Clemson 29, 7-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Flare screen to Etienne gains 4. Love getting Etienne in space. Never goes down easily.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Fake pitch pop pass, McCloud WIDE open down the seam vs cover 3, fumbles but recovered, gain of 40. Also love attacking the seams against cover 3. Finally starting to see some creative wrinkles! Not that I'm complaining, no need to show these earlier in the year. Bama looms and this is a Bama beater...

Drive cont.

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Counter handoff to Etienne hit in the backfield but fights forward for no gain. Crowder gave up awful penetration. Still suprised he was chosen for All-ACC and not Hearn, if any Clemson guard was worthy.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Etienne bursts through the hole for 7. More great combo blocks by Falcinelli and Hearn, by far the most reliable blocking assignment for easy yardage this season. Oh the crow I've eaten from their play over the past 2 seasons.
3rd & 3 10 shotgun vs nickel Scissors concept vs cover 3 clears an easy slant to McCloud, gain of 11. Picking cover 3 apart again, gosh this Bryant looks like he can hold off another 5 star freshman next year.
1st & 9 11 shotgun vs 4-3 QB counter swarmed for a loss of 2. Here's where cover 3 with an 8 man box isn't so bad.
2nd & 11 10 shotgun (stacked) vs 4-3 Bryant drops back and outruns pursuit to the corner, TOUCHDOWN. And to think I was on high on Manny Diaz last week.

Miami ball, 3:02, Miami 25, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Tunnel screen to Berrios gains 4. Miami took a 2 on 1 option and Clemson did well to hold it to 4 yards.
2nd & 6 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs man cover 1 spy, Wilkins gets immediate pressure for the sack. Best 3 tech in the game.
3rd & 12 11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM Will/BCB overload almost gets to Rozier but he gets the pass off, post dropped by Berrios vs cover 3. These blitzes are the Venables of old, which we've seen less of this year due to injuries and a dominant front 7 which doesn't need blitzes. So fun to watch.

Clemson ball, 1:35, Miami 41, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Tunnel screen to Berrios gains 4. Miami took a 2 on 1 option and Clemson did well to hold it to 4 yards.
2nd & 6 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs man cover 1 spy, Wilkins gets immediate pressure for the sack. Best 3 tech in the game.
3rd & 12 11 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM Will/BCB overload almost gets to Rozier but he gets the pass off, post dropped by Berrios vs cover 3. These blitzes are the Venables of old, which we've seen less of this year due to injuries and a dominant front 7 which doesn't need blitzes. So fun to watch.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR dive to Choice (correct read) gains 4. Anchrum climbed and moved the pile.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet pass to Rodgers gets around the corner up the sideline, gain of 6. Exact same player as Artavis Scott but with far more upside; close to McCloud in agility but strong like Scott.
3rd & 1 12 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Choice gains 1. Made the conversion by maybe half a chain link?
1st & 10 10 shotgun (stacked) vs nickel Bryant scrambles and finds Overton on the scramble drill, gain of 16. Perfection from Bryant. Near perfection from the defense. Number 1 for obvious reasons.