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Clemson vs. Virginia Tech Film Review: 2nd Quarter

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Championship Mode engaged

Clemson v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

The regular season has come to a close for Clemson. This article is a 2nd Quarter film review, not a season review, so I won’t spend time trying to summarize what went wrong and right for our Tigers this season, but I will say this: after an unprecedentedly turbulent offseason/season, I’m impressed that we maintained a high level of play in the face of attrition, COVID, and everything in between.

Now, I could talk about the rough start to this game. There are still some weak spots in our defense that offenses have continued to exploit, particularly in the intermediate MOF area (see Tayvion Robinson’s crosser that was a huge chunk play in the 1st Quarter). But again, this is a 2nd Quarter review, and for the most part I was fine, and even encouraged, by what I saw in this quarter. Kane Patterson had a rough start, but I think he performed admirably overall, and I think that while the defense might have bent some in Tech’s territory, they didn’t break after the Hokies crossed the 50yd line. At the end of the day, they only gave up 10 points to a team that was averaging 33 points over the previous 9 games. A 45-10 win is still a 45-10 win, regardless of how you got there. But my articles are about how we got there, so without further ado, let’s get into some film.

Bench = 4-3 alignment, nose (1-tech) is aligned toward the boundary, 3-tech is aligned to the field

Field = 4-3 alignment, nose (1-tech) is aligned toward the field, 3-tech is aligned to the boundary

Over = 4-3 alignment, 3-tech aligned to the TE side

Okie = 3-4 alignment, Nose is in 0, DTs are in 4i alignment with a Boundary “Jack” player walked up on the boundary side near the line of scrimmage. You’ll also see my refer to “Okie Dime” or “Okie 6-pack” which just means that we’re playing with 7 guys in coverage.

Those are by far the most common of Venables’ calls. An important thing to note is that, unlike a lot of DCs, the Nose is ALWAYS aligned to the call. Therefore Nose to the boundary (Bench) is call-side, and Nose to the field (Field) is call-side

VT Ball, 15:00, VT 29, 10-7 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
2nd & 6 11 personnel vs. 4-3 nickel RB Screen, gain of 6 Two linemen are there to wash Patterson and set up the 1st down conversion. Tough first assignment for a 3rd string guy getting his first dose of significant snaps. Tyler Davis goes down…
1st & 10 11 personnel vs. 3-4 nickel Outside zone, 1st down Andddd immediately we see the impact on our defense with Davis out. The RB sees Williams stunt toward the flow of the OL blocking outside zone, so he "bends" it back inside past the A gap. Pinckney should have better control of his gap here to make the tackle
1st & 10 11 personnel vs. Okie Quick curl, gain of 5 I wouldn't dare question the best defensive coordinator in football, but if you're going to give an outside receiver 12 yards of space with nobody covering the flat then any QB worth the jersey on his back is going to check into that for an easy 5 everytime
2nd & 5 11 personnel vs. Okie Designed QB run, gain of 4 Murphy does a good job here in pursuit to keep the QB from converting
3rd & 1 12 personnel vs. Bench Duo, 1st down Herbert sees the LBs crashing inside and makes a good cut to get outside into space and convert
1st & 10 11 personnel trips left vs. Field Outside zone, gain of 3 Bresee blows up the A gap like a Grown Ass Man which forces the cutback and allows the second level defenders to clean up
2nd & 7 10 personnel vs. Field Pitch, 1st down Kendrick can't get off his block and Herbert gets a 1st down
1st & 10 12 personnel vs. Field Outside zone, loss of 3 The line is both gap sound and able to get penetration, leaving Herbert with nowhere to cut into. Also, while Herbert is a good back, it's very funny how he gets caught in his heels cutting back and falls over here
2nd & 13 11 personnel vs. Bench QB draw This looks like a draw to me, and Spector has good zone eyes here to ID it
PENALTY, Personal Foul 3rd & 24 11 personnel vs. 3-4 dime Outside handoff, loss of 1 Simpson blows up his gap and stops this play before Herbert can even get back to the line

The start of this drive was thrown out of whack by attrition, but I think the defense showed their fight by keeping VT from putting any points on the board.

Clemson ball, 7:55, Clemson 20, 10-7 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
1st & 10 11 personnel stack left vs. 4-2-5 Crosser route, Incomplete Trevor glances at the deep routes, but then telegraphs the crosser without recognizing that the outside corner comes off his man assignment to sit in a curl zone. Nearly picked off
2nd & 10 11 personnel pistol vs. 4-2-5 Inside Zone, gain of 4 Good push on the seal here from McFadden allowing Etienne a chance to bounce it out of the interior pileup
3rd & 6 11 personnel stack right vs. 4-2-5 Lawrence bailout, Incomplete TL keeps his eyes up the field and moves up in the pocket to rollout but decides to throw it away instead of trying to pick up the 1st down with his legs. On the broadcast replay, Herbstreit seems to think he should have tried to run for the 1st, but Barnu likely had a good enough angle to prevent him from getting there. However, Etienne was open in front of him, but to be fair to Lawrence, it would have been a cross-platform throw with Barnu in his face. Considering he nearly got picked off two plays before, I think it was smart to simply throw it away while still up 3

VT Ball, 6:58, 50, 10-7 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
1st & 10 11 personnel vs. 3-4 Quick screen, gain of 9 VT again takes advantage of soft coverage
2nd & 1 No clue, ESPN was zoomed in on Herbert's face for some reason Inside zone, first down Center climbs well to hand Patterson, and Spector decides to stay in the backside C gap, leaving Herbert with tons of daylight in the backside A gap to pick up the 1st
1st & 10 12 personnel vs. 3-4 Tunnel screen, loss of 3 Simpson makes it difficult from the start by blowing up the outside block and then Henry cleans up
2nd & 12 11 personnel vs. Okie End-around, loss of 1 Thomas flys upfield and crosses the face of two OL, setting the edge and preventing the play from getting outside
3rd & 13 10 personnel vs. Dime package Fade, Incomplete Jones plays tight enough man on the receiver to force a tough throw, which falls incomplete

This is the aggressiveness we like to see out of Venables’ squad. Thomas taking two OL upfield to set a hard-edge and MJJr splitting two blocks to wall off Herbert so that Simpson can clean up from the backside.

Clemson ball, 3:52, Clemson 25, 10-10

Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
Down & Distance Personnel Play Notes
1st & 10 12 personnel vs. 4-2-5 Counter, 1st Down Etienne's signature play gains a chunk
1st & 10 11 Personnel vs. 4-2-5 Inside zone, gain of 2 Hug Hole opens in the playside B gap. Etienne tries to cut back inside when he sees safety filling, but runs into blocker
2nd & 8 11 personnel trips left vs. 4-2-5 ZR keeper, gain of 8 Both the unblocked DE and the Sam get pulled inside, making for an easy keep decision for Lawrence
1st & 10 11 personnel slant left vs. 4-2-5 Fake sweep to Power, gain of 3 Not sure I understand calling a sweep toward the gap you're running into but ok
2nd & 7 11 personnel slant right vs. 4-2-5 RPO check into bubble screen, 1st down Lawrence sees Amari with daylight and hits him for an easy conversion
1st & 10 11 personnel slant right vs. 4-2-5 Split Zone, 1st down Good patience by Dixon to wait until the backside B gap got open to burst upfield
1st & 10 11 personnel trips left vs. 4-2-5 ZR handoff, TOUCHDOWN The DE was still clearly fretting over getting burned by the pull last time, and so the widening of his angle tells Lawrence to hand it off. Good blocking by the iine, espcialy Carman sealing off his assignment. And Dixon putting the moves on the safety is an aesthetically pleasing way to watch Clemson score

I’d also like to credit Bockhorst for bullying his guy, which in combo with Carman’s good seal, makes for a huge hole in the backside B gap. And of course great balance and moves from Lyn-J, who had a stellar 2nd quarter.

That concludes the meaningful snaps of the first half of the game. Virginia Tech gets the ball back after Clemson scores, but decides to run out the clock without kneeling it. I don’t know why either.