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Clemson vs. Notre Dame 2018 Cotton Bowl Film Review: 2nd Quarter

The second quarter tends to be the fun one

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Clemson v Notre Dame Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The second quarter was the most fun of the game, with Trevor Lawrence completing multiple long touchdown passes against an ND defense known for big play prevention. The Irish secondary isn’t particularly deep and an injury to star cornerback Julian Love left them without a player capable of checking the Tigers wide outs.

The Irish started the second half off in third and six, Clemson playing base 4-2, five man rush, quarters coverage, Kmet finds a hole in the underneath coverage, first down. Kmet, out of Illinois and a pitcher on the baseball team, is apparently jumbo Samardzija. 11 vs. 4-2, four verticals with a switch route, Terrell blankets the receiver, incomplete. 10 trips vs. 4-2, Lamar blitzes again (sort of like Boulware the coaching staff seems to think Lamar is generally more useful as a pass rusher than in coverage) RPO in route to Boykins complete for a short gain. 3rd & 3 Empty vs. 4-1, ND’s ability to get into empty while keeping tight ends and receivers on the field helps keep Clemson from bringing out dime packages. Cover one vs. roll out pass, Book chased to the sideline and throws it out of bounds. 4th & 3, 12 twins vs. 4-3, six man rush, cover 0, jump ball broken up by Simmons. Having a “linebacker” type who can run with star receivers really raises your defenses ceiling. Turnover on downs.

11 vs. 4-2, inside zone handoff to Choice, Carman/Hyatt’s man gets into the backfield, Choice makes him miss and finds a hole. 2nd & 3, 11 vs. 4-3 under, four man rush, ND rotates into cover two, curl route to Thompson complete underneath. 10 stacked receivers vs. 4-2, four verticals, cover one, Ross beats his man with a stutter step and falls forward before the deep safety can drag him down. Tigers Touchdown!

The bunched receivers creates a natural rub/pick, and by stacking the receivers Clemson is able to disguise who is going where while forcing ND’s secondary to stretch to its breaking point. Behind Ross was Higgins and it’ll be interesting to see if they use this look more to take advantage of the 6’4” pairs height.

PAT blocked, Simpson got beat inside, Hyatt was blocking air. Sucks for Huegel to get his PAT streak broken like that.

11 vs. 4-2, power handoff to Williams tackled after a gain of five. 12 twins vs. 4-3, pin-pull handoff met at the line of scrimmage, Williams falls forward. 3rd & 2, 11 vs. 4-2, ND motions to a bunch formation, play action pass to Boykins falls incomplete, pressure from Lamar and Wilkins. Punt

10 trips vs. 4-1, inside zone handoff to Etienne good for a few yards.

In quarters the inside linebacker has to take the #3 receiver to his side. By aligning in trips Clemson forces one of ND’s linebackers out of the box (onto the Goodyear logo), splitting the difference between his gap and the slot receiver he has to cover. If the MLB doesn’t make a tackle here Etienne has a big gain. 10 stacked receivers vs. 4-2, inside zone RPO, bubble to Higgins complete for a gain of three. 10 trips bunch vs. nickel, four man rush, cover one robber, Rodgers man gets picked off, Lawrence hits him in stride for an easy first down. 11 trips vs. 4-2, buck sweep handoff met by the safety after a shot gain. 11 vs. 4-2, pass to Rodgers batted down at the line of scrimmage. 3rd & 7, 10 vs. nickel, four man rush with a spy, quarters, Lawrence has all the time in the world, Ross able to break open inside on a post route for another big gain.

10 stacked receivers vs. 4-2, bubble to Ross out immediately, Gilman (#11) there immediately to make the tackle. I get that the man is listed at 5’11” but a safety that talented should not wind up at Navy. 11 vs. 4-3, play action pass, cover two, Anchrum’s man beats him inside on a stunt, Pollard almost got beat but recovered and pancaked his man in the backfield, throw to Higgins almost complete for a touchdown. The ND safety gets caught looking in the backfield and can’t recover in time to contest the catch. The Irish get bailed out because of a drop and a flag. 2nd & 17, 10 trips vs. 4-2, zone read keeper good for ten yards behind a fantastic Higgins block. The Tigers receivers tend to block their asses off and it’s so important for turning four yard runs into bigger gains. Gilman went down on the play, leaving Notre Dame without two of its best players in the secondary. 10 trips vs. 4-2, Lawrence sacked after Hyatt just got beat to the outside, Simpson got pulled over (which happens to heavy offensive lineman if they don’t stay low), Falcinelli did a good job cleaning up for the left side of the line but he can only block one man. Field goal no good.

11 trips vs. 4-2, double reverse pass fools absolutely no one, Pinckney chases Book from the far hash to the sideline and comes close to running him down inbounds. 10 vs. 4-2, cover one, fade route to Boykins complete over Mullen. 1st and 10, 11 trips vs. 4-2, inside zone handoff tackled immediately by Ferrell and Lamar. 11 trips vs. 4-2, six man rush, CB and ILB overload, Mack comes open in the middle but the tight end drops the ball. 10 trips vs. 4-2, five man rush, draw immediately met in the backfield by Bryant, Thomas and Wilkins. Ferrell was in at three technique, a look that gets especially interesting when I remember that everyone on the line can drop into coverage pretty well, a favorite of Venables on third downs. It also lets Ferrell use his unique ability to time the snap to try to beat slower interior lineman. Punt.

10 vs. 4-2, inside zone RPO handoff, Etienne churns forward for a gain of three. 10 vs. 4-2, Etienne motions out, tunnel screen to Ross almost good for a first down. This play appears to be a double screen, with Lawrence reading one of the inside linebackers to determine where the ball is going.

3rd& 1, 11 trips vs. 4-3 under, zone read keeper from Lawrence fools everyone and he takes a hit after getting the first down. 1st & 10, 11 trips vs. 4-2, OLB blitz, cover four, bootleg, Renfrow’s man falls down and Lawrence gets the ball to him on the sideline. 1st & 10, 10 bunch vs. 4-2, zone read keeper good for a first down. Teams seem to have forgotten about Lawrence’s running ability. Either that, or looking at the skill position talent the Tigers have, they figure he’s the least dangerous man to be carrying the football. 1st & 10, 10 bunch vs. 4-2, screen and go, pass to Renfrow incomplete, ND called for defensive holding. 1st & 10, 11 vs. 4-3 over, RPO handoff good for a yard. 10 vs. 4-2, play action, quick out to Williams broken up. 3rd & 9, off sides on Anchrum. 3rd & 14, 10 vs. 3-3, four man rush, cover four vs four verticals and a flat footed Gilman just gets beat up the middle by Ross. PAT good, 16-3 Tigers

1st & 10, replay didn’t end before the snap, inverted cover two, pass to Finke complete and immediately hit by Lamar.

1st & 10, 11 trips vs. DOD, three man rush, Simmons stays in to spy and meets a scrambling Book at the line. 10 vs. DOD, thee man rush, invert cover two, throw to the flats broken up by Joseph. 3rd & 9, empty vs. DOD, cover one man, screen pass to the trips side met by Ferrell and Joseph. Punt.

1st & 10, 10 vs. 4-2, ND showing blitz, cover two, curl to Rodgers complete and tackled immediately. Off sides Irish. 2nd & 3, 10 vs. 3-3, Irish showing blitz, three man rush, quarters, curl to Rodgers complete and tackled out of bounds. 1st & 10, 10 vs. 4-2, Irish showing blitz, three man rush, cover four, curl + seam, seam route to Renfrow complete. Roughing the passer on ND. 1st & 10, 10 bunch vs. 4-1, five man rush, cover one man, Higgins completes a circus catch on a fade route in the end zone for a Tigers touchdown. 23-3, Tigers.

Irish take a knee and the Tigers go to halftime with a twenty point lead.