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Clemson vs Virginia Film Review: 2nd Half

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NCAA Football: Virginia at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Just dive on in kids. There’s a lot of bad, but plenty of good to make up for it. The good news is a lot of what UVA did was the result of the best offensive line Clemson faces until Notre Dame — and Clemson should get some starters back on the defensive line this week — but UVA didn’t have the nearly the athletes Miami does. So there’s a lot to clean up, but you’ll see here that much is fixable.

UVA ball, 15:00, UVA 25, 24-10 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 20 shotgun vs 3-3-5 (Skalski playing deep Mike behind Spector and Henry) Split zone handoff gains 9. Spector had a good bull rush but everyone else was blocked, Williams was doubled and blown backward and the center came off the double to block Skalski. Henry and Williams each whiffed on arm tackles and Spector had to chase out of the backfield to finally clean it up with Jones Jr.
2nd & 1 10 shotgun vs 4-3 Boundary fade vs cover 3 knocked away by Booth. Another great play by Booth, and we haven't even gotten to his best yet. He and Spector are playing well at least.
3rd & 1 11 shotgun vs 4-3 QB counter sweep off the edge gains 12. No one set the edge; Spector bull rushed inside the TE and Turner was caught looking inside, couldn't get out to contain and set it.
1st & 10 21 shotgun vs 4-3 Deep post against cover 3 between Booth and Zanders dropped. This was open and it's on Zanders. Booth was playing with outside leverage as is required in cover 3 so it's on the deep safety to deter the post. Zanders was spun around and couldn't recover toward the boundary side post in time to force the incompletion.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick slot out gains 3. Jones Jr gave a lot of cushion but broke so quickly that there was no chance for YAC. He and Spector have each been better than I expected so far this season.
3rd & 7 11 shotgun (TE isolated in boundary) vs 3-3-5 Deep slot fade to the 6'7" guy against man cover 1 bullets, Zanders is there but it's a gain of 30. Zanders had good position in man coverage but is half a foot shorter to begin with, never saw the ball, overran the throw enough to allow a possession target to box out.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick fade to the giant again, Booth is in single man coverage, OBJ style interception in the endzone. Remember when I said Booth would be fine after the Wake game? 3 weeks later and I'd pencil him in to start or at least have starter snaps against Miami. All the tools are there, he just needs to stay cool and grow his confidence. This should help.

After a missed throw to Galloway in the flat, and an ugly sack where Carman lunged and gave up the blindside edge, Lawrence and Etienne once again bail Clemson out of 3rd & long. Literally the difference in the game, the amount of 3rd & longs Clemson converted is unreal and shouldn’t be sustainable. When in doubt, though, feed Travis all the yards.

Picking up after Etienne’s long catch and run...

Clemson ball, 11:28, UVA 29, 24-10 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun (bunched right) vs nickel Endzone seam to Rodgers is caught but knocked loose by the ground, incomplete. May have been overturned upon review but Clemson oddly went tempo afterward. Putnam was bullrushed into Lawrence's lap but it was still a perfectly thrown ball. Neat play concept here to bookmark as well. The alignment screams bubble screen, with Galloway and Rodgers ready to block for Powell. Rodgers runs up the seam, Galloway fakes a block and runs a wheel route, while Powell sits for a screen and leaps while Lawrence pump fakes to help sell it.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 3-4 IZ pull out, quick out to Spector gains 5. Remember, we know this is a called running play because the OL run blocks. In fact this was the most push I've seen from them on the night so far. Almost illegally downfield!
3rd & 5 Empty shotgun vs 3-4 Fire man bullet blitzes get through the line, Lawrence has to throw it away. Field goal is good. Similar to Clemson's own fire zones where a DE drops into coverage and a linebacker rushes from the opposite side to confuse on OL, Bockhorst was left with no one to block while linebackers split the center. Only difference is UVA did this in front of man cover 1 instead of zone.

UVA ball, 10:33, UVA 25, 27-10 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick curl vs inverted cover 2 (Mike and corners bail deep, safeties and OLBs cover underneath) gains 4. Turner flew in to make a sure tackle, which is a major plus given how this night goes.
2nd & 6 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Line stunt finally gets some pressure but Murphy whiffs on an open tackle in the backfield, gain of 4, late hit on Spector for good measure. Tough to blame Spector for flying in on a tough running QB only for him to slide at the last moment. Murphy should've had an easy sack but was juked beyond foolishness.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Single read QB draw stopped for no gain by Upshaw. Perhaps the quickest block disengagement we've seen from the front today, from the least likely candidate.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Swing pass against man under Will bullet, Skalski overruns it to the edge and gives up 8 yards. At least Skalski set the edge by overrunning and forced the back into Murphy, but Murphy whiffed again and his arm tackle slung UVA forward for an extra 5 yards.
3rd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ gains 1. Bresee made this play with great hand technique. Was able to sling himself inside the block while engaged and fill the hole.
4th & 1 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR keeper beats Skalski to the corner for 29 yards. Rough series for Skalski, beaten in space and whiffed multiple times. Bresee had good penetration and so did Upshaw, but nobody was behind Upshaw on the edge.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ bounces outside for 5. Good low tackle by Booth, recognized the handoff and avoided the block. One of the better open field tackles on the night.
2nd & 5 Empty shotgun vs 4-3 Slant against inverted cover 2 complete for 7 yards. Running back flare motioned pulled Turner from the hook zone into the flat, leaving the slant wide open.
1st & 3 21 wishbone vs 4-3 PA rollout, throw back to the wide open TE for the touchdown. Seems like every week a tight end gets open on the backside of a short yardage play action. Nobody recognized it except Pinckney, who needless to say did not have coverage responsibility.

Clemson ball, 6:05, UVA 35, 27-17 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 3-4 Power to Etienne stuffed for a gain of 1. Rodgers motioned inside to crack block, but missed and allowed penetration behind the pulling Bockhorst.
2nd & 9 11 shotgun vs 3-4 Quick out to Ladson vs soft man cover 1 Sam fire, gain of 11. 2019's bread and butter, good to see it's still an option.
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 3-4 Tunnel screen to Ladson into a Buck (DE/OLB hybrid) fire gains 20. Allen and Bockhorst hit the keys blocks and Ladson found easy yards with his stride.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 3-4 IZ pull, quick out to Rodgers, great juke and a quick 24 yards. Rodgers would have some gaudy stats if not for a few drops so far this year, still might land All-ACC nods anyway.
1st & 7 12 pistol vs 3-4 OZ to Etienne gains 3. There was a lane off the C gap thanks to a great combo block from McFadden and Galloway, but Putnam couldn't hold the DT from filling it from the backside. Would've been a touchdown.
2nd & 4 12 shotgun vs 4-4 Jet motion PA, quick flare to Etienne is undefended, touchdown. Throwing to Travis has been the best option in both short yardage and 3rd & long tonight, good play design.

UVA ball, 3:54, UVA 25, 34-17 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 (Henry is back at Will, Spector at Mike, Skalski at Sam, and Jones Jr. is actually the middle safety in this alignment) Jet pop pass gets outside for a gain of 6. Skalski was able to help set the edge and Spector flew in for a violent tackle.
2nd & 4 Empty shotgun vs 3-3-5 Nothing open against inverted cover 2, Armstrong scrambles outside for 2. Jones Jr is doing his best Simmons impersonation, actually playing middle safety. Doubt he has the deep coverage range but it's fun to see nonetheless; this is the alignment and coverage which more or less shut down Ohio State.
3rd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 PA jet inside zone, DK jumps it and wraps up just past the marker, gain of 3. Good recognition by DK but his responsibility is that jet motion. Spector shot the A gap to make the TFL but was tackled from behind after penetrating, an awful missed holding flag.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 Overlap ILB bullet blitz, Bresee gets around the edge and tips the pass, almost picked. Continually impressed with Spector on bullet blitzes. He bull rushes and moves linemen back like Boulware did. Good to see Bresee work around a left tackle.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 ZR keeper gets outside for 3. Skalski took a bad pursuit angle, Turner set the edge and dove underneath the lead block for the ankle tackle well.
3rd & 7 Empty shotgun vs 3-2-6 Delayed blitz from Zanders, Henry can't get around the TE blocking on the edge and Armstrong steps up and runs for 6 yards. Skalski missed in the open field again, the cut back put him on his rear. Bresee had to chase to clean up; Charleston narrowly avoided a nasty and unforgiveable targeting call by mere inches...
4th & 1 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Fake audible, quick sneak gets 1 yards. Cute wrinkle to get the defense looking toward the sideline for an adjustment and rush to sneak it, but Clemson wasn't fooled. Armstrong got it on second effort.
1st & 10 2 shotgun vs 4-3 QB power gains 3, great tackle by Booth again. Skalski was swallowed up in the hole but Booth was in a bail technique and saw the QB. Hard, hard form tackle by Booth.
2nd & 7 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 Go route against Goodrich in man cover 1, no safety help, dropped. Goodrich was beaten by a double move, should've been caught for big yards.
3rd & 7 11 shotgun vs 3-2-6 Cover 3 with a Skalski fire, finally the pocket collapses and there's a much needed sack. Henry got there first but missed the tackle, looks like Mascoll was the first to bring him down. Big stop to end the quarter.

4th Quarter

Clemson ball, 14:52, Clemson 20, 34-17 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ pull, bubble to Spector gains 15. All Spector here, tough running through contact for an extra 10. Great blocking from Powell as well.
1st & 10 11 shotgun (trips right including TE) vs nickel Bubble to Powell blown up for a loss of 1. Spector couldn't hold his block and Chalk blocked no one, Powell had no chance.
2nd & 11 11 shotgun vs nickel ZR pull, quick out to Williams incomplete. Trevor threw out of a zone read, pretty risky. We know it's a zone read because Carman left the DE unblocked, yet that DE forced the inaccurate throw.
3rd & 11 11 shotgun vs nickel Cover 2 fire zone, wide open angle route to Dixon, completely dropped. I've been hard on Dixon throughout his career because I don't think he's a good natural runner and would rather see fewer carries for him, so he has to be able to make up for that somewhere. This wasn't it.

UVA ball, 12:40, UVA 41, 34-17 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun (entire formation strength to boundary) vs 3-3-5 QB draw gains 4 against a Will bullet. Spector was immediately in the backfield again but fell to the lead block, Booth missed an ankle tackle on the edge.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 (Skalski at Will, Venables at Mike) Comeback route to the field receiver vs cover 2 is open behind Goodrich, gain of 11. Not an easy throw, especially given Armstrong's poor mechanics. Many college defenses don't respect opposing QBs' ability to throw to field, and we can't blame Clemson for not respecting it.
1st & 10 21 shotgun vs 4-3 Power triple option stopped after 3 yards. Goodrich made the play here, set the edge and and took away the pitch, which was fortunate since Henry was completely sealed out by the RT.
2nd & 7 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ handoff gains 6. Bresee and Henry stunted but Henry got completely doubled and sealed out from the A gap, Skalski was swallowed by the guard and there was a hole, with Venables hitting the backside A gap and thus out of the play. This is more of UVA catching Clemson in an unfortunate call (moving the DT out of the playside gap) than poor defense by Clemson.
Offside, 1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Curl route complete in front of Sheridan Jones for 3. At this point I'm highlighting open field or solo tackles since they've been rare. Jones gets a helmet sticker.
2nd & 7 11 pistol vs 4-3 OZ stopped for a loss of 1. A TFL!! Skalski set and held the edge, fought off the block the whole way to make the stop.
3rd & 8 01 shotgun vs 4-3 (Patterson at Mike, Skalski at Will) Man cover 1, first read is toast so there's the draw, Mascoll gets off a block to make the stop for only a gain of 2. I can't be alone in thinking here we go again, the lumbering QB will find dumb yards and convert again. This stop put comeback hopes to an end, and it was the maligned Mascoll getting off a block to track down the QB draw.
4th & 6 10 shotgun vs 3-2-6 Corner route vs man under, cover 0 (both deep safeties are spying on a 4th and medium, lol, Zanders gets redemption and gets the PBU, that's effectively game over. Back to back redemption plays for a DE and a safety, the two glaring weak points in tonight's defensive effort. Perfect man coverage by Zanders here, we must note this given earlier criticism.

I’ll conclude my review here since Clemson ices the game away with a short Mellusi TD, featuring another long swing pass to Etienne (HE IS THE OFFENSE AND SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE OFFENSE WHETHER IT’S CARRIES OR CATCHES), a sneaky TE screen to Galloway, and a great ZR keeper by Lawrence. But it’s late Monday night and time to turn my attention to the Miami effort. I’ll try to not start another comments section war like in 2015. Can we un-ban the “UGOTSAPPED” guy in case I do?