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Cotton Bowl Film Review: 1st Quarter

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Once again I get the boring quarter

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Cotton Bowl-Notre Dame vs Clemson Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

At this point I’m out of praise to give; not even special teams disasters can get in Clemson’s way for long.

14-0 and yet another blowout. That this is the expectation and the norm against everyone but Alabama is mind-numbing.

It wasn’t all sunshine in the 1st quarter, however. Notre Dame found pressure; special teams almost gave Notre Dame cheap scores (Clelin Ferrell’s strip sack immediately after a 30 yard punt, Derion Kendrick’s fumble somehow being overturned); the offense was still predictably feeling out the Irish defense.

Sorry I keep hitting y’all with the boring quarter every Monday morning. There isn’t much else to complain about.

ND ball, 15:00, 25

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Outside zone to Williams cuts back for 11. Huggins was sealed out from the backside, Lamar blitzed inside, and Joseph overran the play which allowed a big cutback lane.
False start, 1st & 15 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Inside zone stopped by Huggins, fumbled but recovered by ND, loss of 1. Huggins' swim move inside the guard was dirty, immediately in the backfield.
2nd & 16 10 shotgun vs 4-3 QB draw gains 4. Decent call against an aggressive DL, Mullen came up quickly in run defense from his cover 4 coverage thanks to the Boykin's curl route.
3rd & 10 Empty shotgun vs 3-3-5 (Wallace at NB, Turner at SS) Dropback vs inverted cover 2 (corners and Mike bail deep, safeties play hook zones), Book scrambles and finds a man at the marker but it's dropped, punt. Book pulled Joseph out of flat coverage when he left the pocket, the drop was fortunate.

Clemson ball, 12:57, Clemson 14

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 Outside zone to Etienne gains 1. Falcinelli got worked, couldn't wash the nose outside and let him split inside when Etienne arrived.
2nd & 9 Empty shotgun vs nickel Double LB blitz man cover 0, Lawrence aviods the rush and throws incomplete. Hyatt had to take the Will blitz up the B gap, DE came free off the edge and should've been a sack.
3rd & 9 10 shotgun vs nickel Fade to Higgins vs man cover 2, incomplete. Correct read with the safety bust but Higgins' left hand was held.

Spiers delivers another poor punt and the Irish take over at Clemson’s 49, but Ferrell forces and recovers a Book fumble on the next play.

Clemson ball, 12:00, Clemson 47

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun (double stacked) vs 4-3 Tunnel screen to Higgins gains 8. Williams sprung a block on Love and Higgins made pursuing linebackers overpursue.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick out to Rodgers vs soft cover 4 gains 6. Good catch on a rare poor throw, it was high and inside, Rodgers bodied up for it.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO handoff to Etienne gains 8. Etienne made a DE miss in the hole and delivered a blow to the safety.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA power bootleg vs man cover 1, thrown away. Clemson wanted the deep wheel to Renfrow but it was bracketed.
3rd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Flare screen to Etienne away from the jet motion, gain of 7. Excellent play design, the defense flowed away and then it was simply 2 blockers vs 1 linebacker.

Clemson settles for a field goal 3 plays later.

ND ball, 8:35, ND 25, 3-0 Clemson lead

ND ball, 8:35, ND 25, 3-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 12 pistol vs 4-3 Power handoff to Williams gains nothing. Mullen on the corner blitz made first contact.
2nd & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 Zone read dive stopped for a loss of 1. The entire defensive line met Williams from 4 different angles simultaneously.
3rd & 11 10 shotgun vs dime Double safety fire vs inside RB screen, Williams navigates traffic for 16 yards. A middle screen vs a blitz is usually a good play call. Williams is ND's best player and it shows.

ND gets PI on the next play, field goal drive. 7:13 on game clock, 31:30 into stream

ND on the Clemson 44

ND driving from the Clemson 44

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 12 shotgun vs 4-3 Counter option pitch to Williams gains 7. Counter motion pulled XT in, nobody on the edge. Lamar did well to reach Williams around the corner.
2nd & 3 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Slot out vs cover 3 corner blitz gains 11. Lamar was pulled out of his hook zone chasing the running back, which Ferrell had in his flat coverage.
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs cover 4 fire zone, Book scrambles up the middle for 10. Davis needed to do a better job attacking the running back lead block, but the hole was only there but Joseph was worked out of his lane and Wilkins was held in his backside pursuit.
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Inside zone gains 4. First time we've seen this DL moved off the ball in who knows how long. Wilkins was doubled and Huggins was sealed out.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Man safety blitz, Book scrambles and eventually throws it away. Huggins with another QB pressure.
3rd & 6 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Tunnel screen vs cover 4, Muse stays shallow and is there for the stop, gain of 4. Ferrell had unreal recognition and quickness to get back outside but this stop is all Muse reading and flying the alley.

Clemson ball, 4:26, Clemson 13, 3-3 tie

Clemson ball, 4:26, Clemson 13, 3-3 tie

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 Zone read keeper gains 4. We know Lawrence has straight line speed but we saw some whiggle here. Gilman never brought him down either.
2nd & 6 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Corner route to Renfrow incomplete, hit right when the ball arrived. Renfrow was open for a moment but this wasn't a smart throw. 3 defenders surrounded him. If the corner had peeled rather than sat on Rodgers' underneath route it would've been an easy interception.
3rd & 6 10 shotgun vs nickel Out route to Renfrow vs man cover 2 gains 10. Renfrow matched up on a Will is a quickness mismatch, easy out route.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Called counter to Etienne but Lawrence pulls and hits Rodgers on the tunnel screen vs soft coverage, easy 5 yards. Would've preferred to see Lawrence not check out of our best run play but 5 yards on 1st is successful.
2nd & 5 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Counter to Etienne, bounced inside for no gain. Here's an example of Etienne being impatient and not following his blocks. Richard had the final seal on the edge which would've sprung a big gain with only a corner to beat.
3rd & 5 10 shotgun vs nickel Man cover 1, everyone covered and Lawrence is flushed, eventually run out of bounds for a loss of 5. Renfrow was double covered. They're learning.

ND ball, 2:05, ND 32, 3-3 tie

ND ball, 2:05, ND 32, 3-3 tie

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Power handoff to Williams gains 6. Pinckney was stood up and Huggins sealed out.
2nd & 4 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Man cover 1 robber, Book is flushed and runs out of bounds for 2 yards. Every receiver was bracketed and Joseph was effectively a spy; took a good angle to prevent a 1st.
3rd & 2 12 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick curl vs cover 3 gains 4. Zone wasn't quite tight enough.
1st & 10 12 shotgun vs 4-3 Cover 4 fire zone, Ferrell is in the backfield immediately and gets the sack, loss of 4. Mismatch, tight ends can't block Ferrell.