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Clemson vs Wake Forest 1st Quarter Film Review

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

At last, this weekend I saw national media say what many here have come to understand in recent weeks: Clemson is now the best team in the country. The defense is no longer a pleasant surprise but is experienced, healthy, and incessantly dominant. The offense rounded into the form most expected from week one. The depth has developed and the stars are well-tuned. If the “eye test” can be objective at all, it objectively has to favor Clemson.

Not that it will matter to the playoff committee. Though Ohio State benefitted from the eye test while Clemson did not, and they’ve been less impressive against recent and worse competition than Clemson, the committee will still favor resume in their case versus Clemson. Though LSU still of course possesses the strongest resume — which justifiably supersedes the eye test — their resume loses a bit of its shine every week when a formerly top 10 LSU victim falls. Their defense is, ironically, the worst unit they’ve fielded in Baton Rogue in a decade, and they are very beatable if Burrow ever has a hiccup. And who has a defense which can force elite quarterbacks into poor performances? Clemson.

The eye test alone won’t vault Clemson above LSU or Ohio State, especially with their respective upcoming ranked contests, but it will be interesting to see the committee equivocate in Clemson’s case with this week’s ranking.

Wake Forest opening drive

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 15 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO keeper (reading Simmons) gains 3 What looks like a zone read is actually an RPO which Newman decided to tuck: no unblocked lineman, Newman read Simmons to determine the dive or the bubble screen, but rode the mesh too long to hit the bubble.
2nd & 12 12 shotgun vs 4-3 Counter read vs double LB bullets stopped for a loss of 2 Foster overpowered a double team to set the edge and XT made first contact from the backside.
3rd & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR dive gains 2 The best passing offense in the ACC (in YPG at) just chose to punt on its 3rd play, game over.

Clemson opening drive

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Power option keeper gains 10 And there's the last designed QB run of the day.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Etienne gains 4 OL had good push, Anchrum's man got inside to help fill though
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO skinny post vs cover 3, touchdown to Higgins My personal favorite red zone play, the one Mike Williams made famous. With a good throw on the right read it is impossible to defend.
With the play side safety dropping into his hook zone anyway, it’s a simple read. The run action brought him down further and opened the throwing lane.

On the ensuing play, Muse picks off a PA fake tunnel screen TE wheel from a cover 3 fire zone. With no routes to the field side, the coverage was condensed and Muse could easily fly from deep safety to the hole between Wallace’s flat coverage and Terrell’s deep third coverage:

Etienne takes Clemson into the endzone himself on 4 straight carries after the pick.

Wake ball, 9:55, Wake 25, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO handoff gains 4 Muse forced Newman into the wrong read on the slow mesh, he crashed on the run but not hard enough to make Newman pull and hit the skinny post.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR dive blown up by XT, big hit, loss of 2 First time we've seen XT line up at right end (across from the left tackle); probably not the best idea to make him your read man when you run a slow mesh.
3rd & 8 10 shotgun vs dime of doom Dropback vs LB bullets in front of man cover 1, plus a greend dog to create a 6 man rush, Davis gets home for the sack when Newman steps up Haven't seen much of the old dime of doom this year, nor a 6 man pressure come from it. Venable is in championship phase too.

Clemson ball, 8:02, Clemson 19, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA, deep comeback route vs cover 3 complete to Overton for 12 Wake tried to disguise their coverage (since I mentioned in film preview they never do so very well) but with no underneath defender to deter a comeback, cover 3 nor 4 would've stopped this throw and route.
1st & 10 11 shotgun (strength to boundary, Higgins isolated at field) vs 4-3 Counter to Etienne gains 5 Good tackle by the SS in space.
2nd & 5 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Split zone handoff to Etienne gains 11 Carmand and Simpson mauled and sealed out the entire Wake DL, again Wake tackled well at the second level to prevent a chunk.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Fake jet, TE screen to Chalk gains 9 vs a busted inverted cover 2 Wake was fooled by jet motion and lost all coverage integrity, Ross didn't block the corner who was the only defender with a chance, and it only takes one guy to bring Chalk down...
2nd & 1 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Dixon gains 2 Wake has sent more pressure like I called for in the preview and it's yet to pay off, but a run blitz here helped plug a gap and limit Dixon.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA rollout, Lawrence checks to Overton but misses, incomplete Poor throw but Overton should've had it underneath.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Draw to Dixon gains 2 Carman was beaten on an inside move right into the lane.
3rd & 8 10 shotgun vs dime Dixon completely busts in pass pro and Lawrence is sacked from his blind side Rough series here for Lyn-J. A stacked line led Dixon to believe pressure was coming from inside, when Lawrence had already shifted the protection. Dixon may have been overmatched by pressure outside the left tackle but missing an assignment could get Lawrence killed.

Spiers drops a punt, Wake plods for a few yards before converting a medium range field goal, and Lawrence steps up into a sack to close the quarter.