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Clemson vs Georgia Tech 1st Quarter Film Review

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Clemson v Georgia Tech Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Clemson finally showed the level of dominance most expected this preseason AND emptied its bench in Atlanta. Oh, and you may have seen something about separation in the quarterback race. I wouldn’t expect a depth chart announcement until later in the week (if at all, Swinney may be content to keep dividing the 1st half equally and then roll with the hot hand in the 2nd) but it is clear to most that Trevor Lawrence earned the right to trot out there first against Syracuse. Kelly Bryant didn’t get nearly the amount of snaps in this whacky 1st quarter that Lawrence found in the 2nd, but it’s impossible to argue who had a stronger performance.

Clemson’s defensive alignment was interesting in this game. Clemson spread its front with a nose, kept a DT and DE in 3 technique, then another DE and the Sam standing up in a 5 or 9 technique to invite the dive and control the edges. Tech found success on the quarterback keeper on its opening drive, letting Clemson crash the dive from outside, then slip the QB through the inside cutback. If not for fumbles Tech may have scored on its opening possession, but Venables and especially Tre Lamar shut down the option thereafter, as Venables does. Untimely turnovers and early garbage time are all that kept this from being a 50 or 60 something point shutout win. I have absolutely zero gripes with this performance; can’t even nitpick the offensive line or secondary.

Tech ball, 15:00, Tech 25

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO pitch vs Will bullet gains 19. Davis shot inside and only Ferrell was on the edge to defend the keep and pitch, but couldn't defend both. Muse was blocked in the alley.
1st & 10 30 wishbone vs 4-3 under TO keeper gains 6. Bryant was doubled and Lamar was cut, leaving a lane for Marshall when Simmons took away the pitch.
2nd & 4 30 wishbone vs 4-3 under TO keeper gains 8. Ferrell and Davis both flew to the pitch and Marshall again had an inside cutback lane beneath Ferrell's arm tackle attempt.
1st & 10 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO keeper gains 3. This time both ILBs played it perfectly; Davis took the pitch and Lamar filled to make the wrap up.
2nd & 7 30 wishbone vs 4-3 under Lead option keeper gains 3. Lamar again was gap sound and made a clean wrap up.
3rd & 4 30 wishbone vs 4-3 under TO keeper gains 7. Tech ran to the boundary away from Lamar and caught Davis peeking inside; Marshall beat him to the edge for the yardage.
1st & 10 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO counter keeper gains 8. Ferrell crashed the dive and only Simmons was left on the edge, when he took the pitch Marshall again had an easy lane.
2nd & 2 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO keeper gains 3. The Tech line is actually creating moving the Clemson line back, albeit with cut blocks. Clemson is playing in wide splits and daring Tech to give to the dive, but Marshall is letting Clemson's interior crash the dive and then cutting in behind it.
False start, 1st & 15 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO dive gains 6. Lawrence was doubled and Ferrell was sat on the QB, lane for the dive even though Ferrell was quick enough to wrap up from behind.
2nd & 9 30 wishbone vs 4-3 Rocket sweep is completely read and blown up by Terrell, fumble recovered by Tech, loss of 5. With no receveive responsibility and Wallace backing him up in zone, Terrell was free to set the edge and made perfect contact.

Two fumbles and a false start later, and suddenly Tech is out of field goal range. This was the first and only threat Tech ever actually mounted.

Clemson ball, 7:15, Clemson 20

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 3-4 PA rollout flare to Rodgers from the H, gain of 8. Every linebacker flew to Etienne and Rodgers had room the other way. Had Renfrow known Rodgers had the ball instead of finishing his corner route, he could've blocked for a big gain.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 3-4 ZR dive to Etienne gains 2. There was a big lane off tackle but Pollard couldn't maintain his block and it closed.
1st & 10 Empty shotgun vs 3-4 Quick hitch to Etienne dropped. Inexcusable drop, just lost focus.
2nd & 10 01 shotgun vs 3-4 Flare to Richard vs cover 3, gain of 1. Soild defense, quick hitches were covered and the checkdown to Richard was open, good open field low tackle.
3rd & 9 01 shotgun (ROSS AND HIGGINS BOTH IN THE BOUNDARY!!) vs 3-4 Dropback vs man cover 1 blitz, Bryant can't keep his eyes downfield and is sacked, punt. Against cover 1, Bryant has to let it rip downfield to Higgins before the rush arrives and before the safety can help. His eyes were on the rush after a second, but Tech had a great delayed stunt with beat the OL.

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Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO counter option pitch is (guess what) fumbled and recovered for a loss of 5. Marshall simply missed the pitch, too far out in front. Would've been blown up for a loss regardless.
2nd & 15 31 wishbone (tackle eligible unbalanced front) vs 4-3 under Sprint out pass vs double LB bullets, Lamar comes through unblocked and forces Marshall back inside where Davis cleans up for the sack. This is where things started to get fun. Lamar had himself probably the best quarter of his career, utterly dominant and gap sound.
3rd & 20 30 wishbone vs 4-3 TO pitch and guess who's there, our beautiful son Lamar, hit stuck, fumble, scramble, and TD recovery for Ferrell. Game over. Nothing Tech can do. Never imagined I'd say this in my undergrad years ('13 grad) but I echo Drew's sentiments and hope Paul Johnson actually sticks around.

Tech ball, 3:42, Tech 25, 7-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 30 wishbone vs 4-3 under TO dive gains 3. I love when Tech tries to cut block but ends up with half their linemen splayed on their backs.
2nd & 7 31 wishbone vs 3-4 (Lamar playing a Jack role on the LOS) TO counter keeper completely swallowed by Wilkins, loss of 4. This is all Wilkins, slipped the initial cutblock then used his hands to deflect the cut attempt from the pulling guard. Nothing Marshall or Tech could do.
3rd & 11 20 wishbone vs 4-3 Sprint out, go route vs man cover 1 (Mullen in coverage) caught out of bounds, punt. Clemson already forcing Tech into deep passes without any run action spells disaster for Tech. Marshall has serious issues with accuracy (in addition to fumbling) and getting so badly off schedule this early never allowed Tech a chance.
I have never seen this level of quality safety play in run support. Truly spectacular

Clemson ball, 2:07, Clemson 30, 7-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 Empty shotgun vs 3-4 Inverted veer keeper gains 1 Correct read, good movement from the Clemson front, Tech just filled the gap properly to hold a minimal gain.
2nd & 9 11 shotgun vs 3-4 Quick stick to Williams overthrown, tipped, could've been picked. Bryant had to get it over a leaping Tech lineman so it may not have been simply airmailed, the overthrow is still on him though.
3rd & 9 11 shotgun vs 3-4 Deep hitch to Rodgers caught but short of the sticks, punt. Rodgers was open against soft zone, but the throw was late, high, and slow. He had to wait and leap for the ball, eliminating any chance to fight for YAC and the 1st down.

The quarter ends on a long run for Tech on the triple option pitch, and we’ll pick up the 2nd quarter with Tech mounting a drive near midfield.