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Clemson vs Charlotte 1st Quarter Film Review

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

For once I get the FUN QUARTER. Just about everything worth seeing especially on offense — besides developing depth, sorry backups — was found here in the 1st with Trevor Lawrence leaving the game halfway through the 2nd quarter. It was a weird game in which Clemson found itself up a few scores despite only a handful of snaps on offense or even time of possession, and the empty-the-bench mentality showed sooner than we’ve yet to see in games like this.

The only real negative is if you still care about individual, regular season awards like the Heisman. It’d be nice of course, since a Heisman is the only meaningful trophy Clemson’s storied program lacks, but the staff showed years ago they’d rather build team depth for future games and future seasons than pad stats like we see in Tuscaloosa and Norman. Sigh, such is life for the defending champs. So if you’re unhappy about this:

Take solace you were able to witness the WEIRDEST thing to ever happen in Death Valley:

Charlotte ball, 14:56, Charlotte 16

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun bunch vs dime ZR dive gains 7 Smith nor Thomas kept backside contain, crashed inside and were sealed inside the backside cut.
2nd & 3 11 shotgun vs dime RPO vs Nicke fire in front of man cover 1, Wallace bats down the pass. The risk/reward in Venable's edge blitzes: free rushers with soft coverage leaving underneath throws wide open. Wallace was in the throwing lane protecting Turner's 10 yard cushion.
3rd & 3 12 shotgun vs dime Dropback vs cover 3 (3 man rush, 5 underneath) Thomas gets pressure to force incompletion. Safe defensive call pays off with quick pressure from only a 3 man rush. Coverage was sound on scramble drill and a diving catch would've been a great play.

After a 2 yard split zone carry by Etienne, Lawrence and Higgins do this:

This a simple go versus inverted cover 2. Either that or it’s a horrible bust; Charlotte looked confused when Rodgers merely brought his split closer inside during pre-snap motion and the corner looks around for help as Higgins catches the ball, after getting burned in what was essentially press man coverage. In inverted cover 2, the corners take deep halves and safeties stay underneath, and the corner has to bail quickly to get in his deep half (like the field corner did). The FS tried to chip Higgins but Higgins won the route at the snap with his release and the corner could never recover. Without safety help, Higgins is open just before he even crosses midfield. Either way, Charlotte was burned on the call and by Higgins alike.

Charlotte ball, 13:35, Charlotte 25, 7-0 Clemson lead Untitled

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs dime Power handoff ot LeMay gains 4. Quick glimpse at Venables' preferred run blitz from the dime: Skalski brings edge pressure and Simmons blitzes from "middle safety." More importantly, Davis was doubled and blown off the ball, makes you wonder why Jimbo didn't run right at the light front more.
2nd & 6 20 shoutgun vs dime Lead zone handoff gains 10. Anddddd here comes the 4-3 base defense after consecutive chunks on the ground; Turner replace by a DT, Simmons back to Sam, Wallace from Sam to SS.
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion, RPO out vs cover 4, thrown behind, interception dropped. An accurate throw is probably a pick 6 for Simmons, awful mechanics
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs dime PA boot vs cover 3 (safeties deep so it's basically Tampa 2 with Simmons in deep middle), batted down by Rudolph. Never thought I'd see a Tampa 2 and cover 3 blend yet here we are, your move offense gurus.
3rd & 10 10 shotgun vs dime Counter vs man cover 1 robber gains 15. Disappointing, Smith was the only hope on the edge but was blocked out by the pull, props to Charlotte for running at the weak side when the corner wasn't in zone coverage to help on the edge.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs dime Inverted veer keeper gains 1 DL was blown back again but Smith stayed clean to fill.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun trips vs 4-3 RPO slot slant vs cover 4, Skalski plays the slant beautifully and Wallace steps into the throwing lane, picked and returned for a touchdown. Skalski's coverage effort is exactly what we meant when we called for an influx in linebacking coverage ability and Wallace held onto a pick versus someone other than NC State. Then it's just a punt return.

Charlotte ball, 10:24, Charlotte 25, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Counter handoff gains 1. Wallace's SS blitz came free to make the stop.
2nd & 9 12 shotgun vs 4-3 OZ gains 2. Davis worked across a double team from the backside to make first contact.
3rd & 7 10 shotgun vs dime RB flare stopped for no gain. Venables brought an overload from the backside; had Charlotte run the flare into the blitz there might've been a first down. Turner and Wallace handle the screen beautifully nonetheless.

Clemson ball 8:15, Clemson 36, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Etienne gains 12. Is there anyone faster through the hole, filling linebackers have to hold on for dear life to bring him down from behind
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel PA deep fade, interference Free yards.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Jet pop pass to Rodgers, no gain. Chalk can't hold his block and Etienne thus can't attack the safety flying the alley.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Swing to Etienne dropped. Old habits, running before the catch
3rd & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Sprint out draw to Etienne gains 17. Dude is just violent, runs with insane lean and accleration to create power.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel OZ to Etienne gains 18 more. Fewer things I love more than Etienne on the edge, running through smaller DBs. Chalk had two great blocks here, helped double the DE and then kicked out on the SS to create the huge running lane. Plus play for a weaker link on the offense!
1st & 4 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Etienne, no gain. Cervenka was blown backward by a linebacker, not a good start to the season for him.
2nd & 4 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Counter to Etienne hit for a loss of 1. Too slowly developing, Simpson and Chalk (each pulling) had to make blocks in the backfield. Etienne tried to remain patient behind Chalk but it was too slow.
3rd & 5 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion, PA boot, deep out to Higgins in the back corner incomplete. I like the play design, Lawrence rolling left isn't the liability it is for other QBs. Simply nobody open.

Charlotte ball, 5:03, Charlotte 25, 17-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs dime Bucksweept to LeMay gains 5. Skalski got out and defended the edge this time but Thomas got sucked inside the B gap and allowed a lane inside.
False start, 2nd & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Slant vs man cover 1 complete, gain of 13. Motion brought a 2x2 set into a trips set and safeties had to rotate, Wallace flying the alley to cover the slot opened up the slant inside of Simmons' outside leverage. Muse was rotating to the deep middle and overran the slot.
Holding, 2nd & 19 10 shotgun vs dime Power to LeMay gains 11 Smith barely shed the weakest stalk block of all time and then threw a weak arm tackle attempt at a power back.
3rd & 8 11 shotgun vs dime Boundary corner blitz in front of cover 4 (yes you read that correctly), deep comeback route incomplete. Oh the dime...a boundary corner blitz in front of a safe cover 4 shell. Beautiful madness.
Look at the back 4 sans Terrell. Corner blitzes in front of cover 3 are the norm. The dime affords far greater flexibility since Clemson can send DB pressure and still play a 4 deep pattern match shell with 4 DBs.

Clemson ball, 2:34, Clemson 40, 17-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Counter to Dixon gains 9. All Dixon, stiff arm, power, and balance gains 8 of these 9 yards.
2nd & 1 11 shotgun vs nickel Power to Dixon gains 10. SS took the jet motion and the deep nickel missed Dixon in the alley.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Quick out to Ladson vs cover 4 gains 6. Tough diving catch against a corner who nearly jumped the route.
2nd & 4 11 shotgun vs nickel RPO tunnel screen to Ngata gains 15. Chalk got in the way enough for Ngata to split the two edge defenders.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Quick curl to Chalk gains 3 vs cover 4 Charlotte has gone conservative since the bomb to Higgins and whaddaya know Clemson found its expected efficiency
2nd & 7 11 shotgun vs nickel ZR dive to Dixon gains 5. Zone read in the red zone because Clemson is determined to show Lawrence is a run threat.
3rd & 2 11 shotgun vs nickel Slant to Ngata in the boundary vs cover 4 gains 10. Lawrence waited for Ngata to break inside rather than hit an immediately wide open Chalk, hmmm.