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A Quick Look At How The Clemson Offense Uses Mirrored Concepts

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Using the quick passing game to attack defenses on the perimeter is a staple of every successful spread offense and Clemson’s is no exception. With the Quarterback only taking one step back in the shotgun and making an easy read, the offensive line doesn’t need to hold off the pass rush for long. Mirrored passing concepts simplify things even further by only asking the QB to read one half of the field. Doing this allows offensive coordinators to pick two quick passing concepts designed for different coverages (often one for zone and one for man) and help ensure the offense is in a good position.

ScElliot use motion here to help Kelly Bryant identify the coverage. The safety running out with Hunter Renfrow makes this look like man. To the backside the tight end, running back and receiver run “snag.” Snag is a common concept used to overload zone defenses, and has been a staple in Clemson’s offense for years. Last year it took a step back in effectiveness because there wasn’t a tight end on the roster who was particularly threatening on a corner route.

Bryant, however, is reading the field side where Clemson is running double slants or “tosser.” The reads on this pass are pretty simple. The first read is the slot receiver, the second read is the outside receiver. The QB reads the defensive back’s leverage, if the DB is over the top of the receiver (and there’s no defender underneath) he throws the ball. In this case Miami’s linebacker gets in the passing lane to Renfrow so Kelly Bryant makes his second read and throws for a short completion, turning second and long into third and short.

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Clemson mixes these and a few additional core quick passing concepts, such as stick, fade/outs and curl/fade routes to provide a complex look to defenses while ensuring the quarterback has simple reads once the ball is snapped. Combined with RPO’s, it’s enough to punish defenses underneath consistently, and part of why Clemson was so efficient in 2017. With that said, these concepts don’t tend to produce big plays and struggle with the lack of spacing in the red zone. Mirrored concepts also don’t typically attack the middle of the field. Still, they’re a vital and effective constraint play for the Clemson offense that you can expect this fall regardless of who’s under center.