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Clemson vs FSU 1st Quarter Film Review

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This is the boring quarter, but signs of FSU’s pending implosion were evident

NCAA Football: Clemson at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t even know what to say here. Usually I have a snarky or pompous little column leading into the 1st quarter review, but I’m still flabbergasted by the product on the field in Tallahassee. Saturday wasn’t as much a dominant Clemson showing as it was a total FSU implosion, but that actually made it all the more satisfying. And that’s saying a lot because Clemson was dominant.

Countless procedural and dead ball penalties; as many ejections as points until late in the game; inability to adjust or get a handle on the sideline. I still think Willie Taggart could rebuild FSU, but after this showing I don’t think he’ll find enough patience in Tallahassee unless there’s a major turnaround by 2020. Not simply progress, but a return to elite status.

Despite the meme fodder this game became, FSU brought the defensive intensity we knew they would, and again Trevor Lawrence made a defense pay for selling out to stop Travis Etienne. The Clemson offensive line had a bad time until Sean Pollard was reinserted, but even then there was little to be found on the ground against linebackers crashing the slightest backfield action. Once Lawrence began to manipulate the safeties, the rout was on.

We also enjoyed Master Troll Dabo again. He’s very subtle in his trolling (usually as simple as selecting a game captain with history against the opponent; Dexter Lawrence against NCSU last week for example) but this week he sent a message to a few of the recruits FSU had in town. Christian Wilkins touchdown? Check. Garrett Williams (FSU legacy) touchdown? Check. Eclipse the 51 points FSU dropped in Death Valley 5 years ago? CHECK. Once Clemson hit 35 points this was all I wanted, and Dabo delivered...with plenty of help from FSU.

Make your postseason plans now; the playoff is a lock. Nobody left has the talent to contend with Clemson, unless Clemson brings its D game while an opponent brings its A. But there’s little chance of an off game at this point. The offense is too balanced and talented, defense too mature and experienced, and staff too dialed-in to allow a slip up. Most likely scenario is a Cotton Bowl contest with Notre Dame. Bring your own hurricane.


I said FSU would provide Lawrence’s toughest test all year and for an entire quarter it was, before the Noles imploded. This is that quarter.

FSU ball, 15:53, FSU 7

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion IZ to Akers gains 3. Lawrence was doubled but Lamar filled the hole. This is a surprisingly good inside run for FSU.
2nd & 7 Empty shotgun (4WR bunch left) vs 4-3 Tunnel screen absolutely destroyed by Simmons, loss of 4. Simmons beat both blockers and help arrived emphatically.
3rd & 10 Empty shotgun (4WR bunch right) vs DIME OF DOOM Quick curl vs 3 man rush cover 4, incomplete. FSU had 3 receivers in the same zone and Francois missed badly, otherwise this is likely a conversion since Clemson didn't have enough defnders in the flat area.

Clemson ball, 13:39, 50 yard line

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 pistol (Rodgers & Renfrow in boundary, Higgins isolated at field) vs 4-3 Jet motion, counter to Etienne gains 4. Etienne didn't follow Williams in the hole but got all 4 yards himself moving the pile.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA, out route to Renfrow gains 7 against cover 4. PA pulled the Sam in against the run and the safety couldn't defend underneath.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Power handoff to Etienne stopped for no gain. Simpson and Hyatt both climbed off the doubled DT and he was able to split them to fill the hole.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Orbit motion PA post to Higgins isolated, overthrown incomplete against cover 4. Beautiful play design, manipulated the safety to prevent a double on Higgins. Everything was great except the throw.
Orbit motion pulls the free safety upfield and all Higgins has to do is get inside the corner. Lawrence simply missed.

Lawrence and Ross fail to connect on 3rd down and Clemson punts from inside the 40, mocking the entire Big 10 West.

FSU ball, 12:01, FSU 20

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 21 pistol vs 4-3 ZR triple option dive gains 3. Lawrence worked his way down the line to help fill despite the initial double.
2nd & 7 01 shotgun (4WR bunch right) vs 4-3 QB draw gains 3. Lawrence agained worked his way from the backside to make the stop, more brains than braun.
3rd & 4 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Fake bubble, deep curl vs cover 4 gains 7. Simmons and Lamar bit and flew to the screen, soft coverage by Terrell allowed an opening but he still almost had the PBU.
1st & 10 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Quick tunnel screen in the boundary loses 1. Muse blew up the block, Mullen made contact behind the line, and Lawrence flies in just for fun.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA, Bryant pressures off the edge and flushes Francois, comeback route complete in front of Simmons, gain of 11. A missed holding call on a Clemson defensive lineman, imagine that.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Snap over Francois' head loses like 30 yards, penalty after the play makes it half the distance to the goal. The first of an ungodly amount of FSU mistakes. On its own, an aberration; with endless other procedural and dead ball fouls, poorly coached.

Needless to say, the Noles didn’t convert a 2nd & 43.

Clemson ball, 7:59, Clemson 34

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion IZ stopped for no gain. No push up front; Stewart whiffed and fell on his backside trying to climb.
False start, 2nd & 15 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Checkdown to Rodgers vs cover 3 Will bullet gains 5. Renfrow and Galloway were uncovered but were only feet apart in their routes, good check by Lawrence but it could've been a huge play.
3rd & 10 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Man cover 1 double LB bullets forces the throwaway, punt. Horrible line play in this series but it's understandable given no Falcinelli or Pollard. Cervenka is playing well but Stewart is nowhere near ready to face a DL like FSU's.

FSU ball, 6:18, Clemson 49

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 PA bootleg comeback route incomplete in front of Simmons, WR lost the ball in the sun. Caught a break there in soft cover 2.
2nd & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 Stretch handoff, cuts back into Ferrell and Huggins for a gain of 1. Akers had room on his cut but Ferrell took it away and forced him inside; likely could've beaten Ferrell to the edge but Ferrell played contain perfectly. This is why he's a 1st rounder: complete package, elite run defender for a weak side end.
3rd & 9 12 shotgun vs DIME OF DOOM Play action versus JAILBREAK blitz and Francois has no chance, sacked by Ferrell and Muse. Poor Francois. Has anyone taken more of a beating in the last 3 years?

Clemson ball, 4:48, Clemson 18

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Rollout, out route to Renfrow gains 4. Linebackers are crashing without any run action at all, and the safety has no chance to get to the flat.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Feaster, no gain. Williams was stood up on his lead block and Feaster didn't have a chance.
3rd & 6 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 Man cover 1 double LB bullets, Lawrence steps up and finds Higgins on the skinny post, gain of 14. Phenomenal catch and body control, Higgins won with strength.
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 PA back shoulder fade to Higgins incomplete. Lots of contact but the no call is understandable.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs cover 4, Lawrence is flushed and finds Rodgers on the sideline, gain of 5. Excellent blitz pickup by Feaster, met a tackle 150 pounds bigger than him and held up. Stewart left him out to dry.
3rd & 5 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Flare screen to Feaster has no chance, loss of 4. Tried to sneak one by expected pressure but FSU was ready for it, Clemson's line wasn't in position to block anyway.

FSU ball, 1:41, FSU 20

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Fake screen, fade vs man cover 0 Will bullet, incomplete out of bounds. This was effectively a throwaway with pressure in Francois' face.
2nd & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Bubble screen gains 4. FSU can't block on the perimeter at all, Smith is having his way on the LOS.
3rd & 6 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Quick slant thrown high and dropped. Bryant dropped into a hook zone and forced a high throw, still should've been caught.

Clemson ball, 1:04, Clemson 31

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion IZ to Etienne gains 5. Best run of the day thus far, all 5 yards came after contact.
2nd & 5 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO skinny post to Ross wide open, gain of 41. My favorite play which we've used to absolutely burn everyone since 2016. Safety crashes and the corner has no inside help. Where are the jets though Justyn?

End of quarter