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Clemson vs Syracuse 4th Quarter Film Review

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I come bearing GIFs

Syracuse v Clemson Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

This ending provided what may have been the most fun I’ve ever had at a noon game; only South Carolina 2008, Auburn 2011, and South Carolina 2014 come close, but I’ll give it to Syracuse 2018 for the drama alone. I’ve had enough of this “adversity” phrase coaches love to throw around. Bring on the blowouts.

The 4th quarter could not have begun any more horribly than it did, with Amari Rodgers muffing another punt and Syracuse recovering inside the 10. After two big stops from K’Von Wallace and then a Dungey scramble to the 1, Dungey runs QB power through the goal line on 4th down and suddenly Clemson is down 10 only 2 minutes into the final quarter.

Clemson ball, 12:58, Clemson 25, 23-13 Syracuse lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Power option pitch to Etienne stopped for a gain of 1. Etienne had to cut inside to the unblocked DE's easy tackle when Williams whiffed.
2nd & 9 11 shotgun vs nickel RPO skinny post to Ross complete in front of cover 3, gain of 16. This is stealing; the FS creeped into the box and bit on the fake, Ross was wide open in the safety's hook zone.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Same play, same coverage, same result, gain of 13 to Ross on the skinny post RPO. Syracuse is committing to stop the run and Brice is abusing them on the same RPO. This should be the blueprint for entire offense, Lawrence or not.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter handoff to Etienne gets outside, untouched for an easy 15 yards. No run play excites me more than power/counter getting Etienne outside. Williams whiffed on his block again but Etienne still got outside and found good perimeter blocking; Renfrow moved a guy 10 yards.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Bubble screen to Rodgers is dropped. A rough day for Rodgers, simply didn't squeeze and it slid through his hands.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Etienne, burst through the A gap, makes the Mike miss, and gets outside for a 26 yard touchdown. Cervenka stoned the 3-tech and Pollard sealed off the end, all Etienne had to do was make the Mike whiff and get upfield. Higgins completely blocked the corner out of the play.

Syracuse ball, 11:08, Syracuse 25, 23-20 Syracuse lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Power handoff to Neal gets through the line, Muse has to fill to hold it to a 6 yard gain. Huggins got himself washed out of the play and left a gap unfilled, with the center climbing to Joseph immediately this could've been a bigger gain.
2nd & 4 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Slant wide open against McMichael in man cover 1, gain of 18. McMichael was playing off and there wasn't another soul anywhere near him, can't give up inside leverage like that.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO handoff gains 6. Dungey read Simmons, who stayed outside to defend a screen, and knew he had a numbers advantage in the box for the run.
2nd & 4 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Dungey short-arms a screen, incomplete. Wanted the fake screen and go but Clemson stayed home, Dungey didn't reset his feet after the pump fake and tried to get the ball out too quickly. Would've been a 1st down if on target.
3rd & 4 11 shotgun vs 4-3 QB power gains 3. 3 DE's in the game with Thomas lined up next to Ferrell. Wilkins was sealed out and Dungey has two blockers with only Joseph and Muse to beat, but Joseph stood up the pulling guard AND stops Dungey in his tracks before help arrives. Huge stop by Joseph.

Syracuse punts after the 4th down conversion is called back. Praise be to Oculus.

Clemson ball, 8:46, Clemson 20, 23-20 Syracuse lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Etienne, bounces outside for a gain of 17, imagine that. Etienne squeezed the line to suck in the LBs, then burst outside and beat the safety to the edge.
1st & 10 20 shotgun (Rodgers in backfield) vs nickel PA, slant to Higgins incomplete. Never should've been thrown, Higgins was blanketed by 3 defenders and we're fortunate it wasn't intercepted.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter to Etienne, tripped as he burst through the hole, gain of 3. Unreal acceleration would've easily had the 1st down and possibly more; Cervenka sealed an inside lane and the linebackers were flowing outside.
3rd & 7 11 shotgun vs 3-2-6 Rollout left, looking for a smash (outside curl with slot corner routes) vs cover 2, Richard somehow has to block a DE on his own and we know how that ends, sacked for a loss of 9. Why on earth roll a rookie QB to his left, where you know Richard will have to block the end on his own? Etienne could've helped but I pin this on the call. Only 2 viable routes not to mention the blocking and rolling Brice to his left.
Let’s have the All-American left tackle block someone on the next obvious passing situation please

Syracuse ball, 6:48, Syracuse 32, 23-20 Syracuse lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Shovel options stoned for a gain of 2. Joseph filled and was having none of it once again, he stopped the pile himself.
2nd & 8 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Quick comeback vs man cover 0, double DT spies (lol) incomplete. DOUBLE DT SPIES. 650 POUNDS IN UNDERNEATH COVERAGE. If this had gone horribly I wouldn't even complain because it's so unique.
3rd & 8 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Quick slant vs man cover 0 Mike fire, 3 linemen dropped. The line in coverage forced the overthrown lob, amazing call by Venables knowing tendencies. Lamar came off the edge to force the quick throw, which was fortunate since Jalen Williams was absolutely burned for a touchdown...oh and this time Ferrell joined the DTs in coverage. 3 Cuse linemen were left with nobody to block and Lamar still had a free rush, beautiful.
I love this pressure look; it gets free pressure off the edge and prevents the quick mesh routes Syracuse loves on 3rd down. Playing with fire with Williams in man coverage without safety support though. Really missed Fields and Mullen.

THE DRIVE: 94 yards, 6:06 to go

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 12 shotgun (Richard in line, Williams H) vs 4-3 Counter to Etienne, God yes Simpson kicks out and destroys the DE, Etienne bursts through for 14. Even Richard sealed effectively here, Etienne was untouched until he already had 10 yards.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter to Etienne, switches field but is tripped up rounding the corner, gain of 4. Great blocking everywhere, there was a hole but Etienne ducked out to avoid the filling linebacker. That linebacker just managed to dive outside and trip him up, Renfrow and Higgins had their men blocked outside for a potential big gain.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Choice gains 9. Pollard and Williams completely blow up and seal out the entire Syracuse line, Choice can run straight up the middle yet off tackle for easy yards.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter to Feaster, Falcinelli kicks out and Williams clears the hole, Hyatt climbed and sealed out the Will for a gain of another 10. Forget balance, run the counter every other snap for the rest of the season and let this line run block.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Feaster gains 5. Pure drive blocking from the interior OL.
2nd & 5 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter to Feaster straight into a Sam fire,stopped for a gain of 1. Falcinelli had to kick out to block the edge blitz and Williams whiffed on the Mike, who stopped Feaster.
3rd & 4 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Etienne vs a Will bullet, stopped by the filling FS for a gain of 3. The OL held excellent blocks and Etienne had a lane, but the safety shot in from the backside and pulled Etienne down from behind as he entered the scrum.
False start, 4th & 6 11 shotgun (Galloway flexed, 2x2) vs nickel Slant corner route to Higgins vs cover 2 fire zone (DE drops into hook, Will fires off the edge) complete for 20. Perfect read, call, and pass. In cover 2 disguised as cover 3, the safety had to run from the middle into his deep half and it left just enough room for the slant corner, between the safety in a deep half and the corner in the flat. Perfection.

I still can’t get over this read and throw. I already covered it on Monday but how could we not take another look? Threaded the needle between deep half and flat coverage like a quarterback with thousands of snap to his name.

Brice shows how effective a zone read can be WHEN THE RUNNING BACKS ARE ESTABLISHED, then Feaster and Etienne do the rest on inside zone and more counters. Touchdown with 41 seconds left. Fight me Otto.

I leave you with the greatest sack GIF known to humankind. Forget tables and analysis here. Your eyes will tell you the whole story.