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Clemson vs Wake Forest Film Review: 3rd Quarter

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College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

I want to lead in with a bit on what I’ll watch for against The Citadel since it’s already Thursday and we’re only now finishing film review. Spoiler alert, it’s more or less what I wanted to see last weekend.

The interior passing game was exactly what we desired against Wake Forest. Slants, deep corners to tight ends, and even SEAMS! This week I’m looking more at the offensive line’s run blocking, since that is allegedly this unit’s strength and Wake did passably well in run defense. The Citadel should not. The line graded extremely well last week, but this week I’m looking for more knockdowns and movement.

This won’t be a game where we see Travis Etienne receive twenty touches like last week. Nor will we see 300+ yards from Trevor Lawrence. But I am looking for more development from the outside receivers.

Joe Ngata seemed to acquit himself well in his first start, flashing the possessive skills needed in the boundary, but Cornell Powell never found much opportunity. In his fifth year now we shouldn’t still wonder what Clemson has in him, but here we are. Frank Ladson didn’t quite deliver in the opportunities he found. So while I don’t want to see a regression back to the outside 50/50 balls which made and broke the passing offense a year ago, I want to see more chances for the new receivers there in the least risky game on the schedule. We know what Clemson has in the slot, and incredibly, tight end. Sharpen the outside newcomers and build their confidence.

Defensively watch for busts, and especially after last week, wrapping up and finishing tackles. The Citadel won’t be able to truly test this defense but if there are issues, they will be glaring. The biggest concern is to avoid injury and get as many reps as possible for anyone upon whom Clemson may rely if there are medical issues. And in that vein, let’s hope beyond all hope this is the least amount of snaps Lawrence and Etienne will ever find for the rest of their Clemson careers.

Diving back in now...

Wake ball, 15:00, Wake 25, 27-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Play action, Sam fire in front of man cover 1, go route against Booth who makes an athletic breakup. Great bounce back by Booth after a rough first half. The receiver was never open. Booth was on his hip the whole time, got his head around, and was in perfect position to dive and knock it away. This is why we're still high on Booth around here.
2nd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Quick curl to the TE vs 3 man rush cover 4, Skalski forces the incompletion. Henry dropped into flat coverage meaning there are 4 underneath zones in addition to the 4 deep zones. Jordan Williams collapsed the pocket from the nose and Hartman had to fling it to a covered tight end. Too easy for Skalski.
3rd & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Mike/Sam overload blitz (6 man rush) in front of cover 3, seam route complete for 55 yards... The seam was wide open behind Zanders' underneath hook zone and Turner's deep middle coverage, Turner and Sheridan hit each other on the tackle attempt and gave up an extra 30 yards after catch. This wasn't a bust, it was Wake in the right call against the coverage, but the tackle effort was poor. Blackledge on the play by play mentions Zanders letting the receiver past him, but that was the coverage call. He could've gone rogue and carried him up the seam, but it wasn't his assingment. Wake hit the opening.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ handoff blown up by Skalski firing off the backside edge, loss of 2. Skalski beat the backside arc block from the tight end and made a diving tackle in the backfield.
2nd & 12 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Trips bunched to the right, Wake tries a clearout but Skalski disrupts it, Davis and Henry collapse the pocket and force a throwaway. Skalski will be fun to watch this year, we're already seeing what Dabo and Venables meant when they called him unfair in practice. He's everywhere so far.
3rd & 12 11 shotgun vs 3-3-5 ZR dive, Hartman had to give because Skalski was in the backfield again, bounced out for a gain of 1. Wake field goal is good. Skalski's bullet blitz was so quick that he MADE THE LEFT GUARD COMPLETELY WHIFF. Dude turned around to see where Skalski went and then tried to look busy elsewhere.
Andrew Booth appreciation gif.
James Skalski appreciation gif.

Clemson ball, 13:21, Clemson 25, 27-3 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun (trips bunched left) vs nickel IZ to Etienne gains 6. Right side of the line had great movement; McFadden carried the DE 5 yards downfield and Putnam had a great combo block with Stewart to create the gap.
2nd & 4 11 pistol vs 4-3 RPO rollout, deep out to Rodgers open against soft cover 4, gain of 21. Again Wake is biting on any run action and rendering the underneath zones undefended.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO vs cover 3 boundary corner blitz, Lawrence sees it and hits Ngata on the out, gain of 20. Total command, completely effortless. Good tough running after the catch from Ngata.
1st & 10 12 shotgun vs 4-3 PA, hitch and go to Powell is covered, Lawrence checks down to Etienne for 8. A year ago we might see Lawrence force this 50/50 ball.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Fake counter reverse to Spector gains 19. Not a smooth exchange but Spector knived through the middle of the Wake defense and was barely kept from scoring.
1st & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-4 IZ to Etienne scores from 2 yards out. Not an easy 2 yards to gain, Wake is fighting hard in run defense.

Wake ball, 10:38, Wake 25, 34-3 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Bubble screen vs a Mike/Sam fire (Tyler Venables sighting) gains 8, right where the blitz came from. Skalski wipes out the screen from behind despite initially blitzing, seems pretty good.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO dive bounces outside for 12. Henry lost contain on the edge, should've had a TFL, Fred Davis missed the tackle on the edge.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Deep curl vs cover 4 gains 8. Hartman found the slot in front of Zanders' relatively tight cover 4 and just inside Tyler Venables' hook zone. Venables could've undercut this with a faster reaction.
2nd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR dive, Pinckney is in the backfield but it bounces outside the scrum for 5. Tyler Venables was free off the edge to get a TFL but hesitated to try and set an edge, ended up letting himself get blocked and gave up the edge.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 3 man rush cover 3, pass rush is gassed, Hartman finds RB in far side flat, gain of 10. Tyler had the back side flat here but drifted upfield a bit as the play lengthened, Hartman then checked it down and Tyler was out of position.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Sam fire, Jones Jr is back in and gets to Hartman unblocked, Murphy finishes the sack. Murphy almost killed Hartman. Jones needs to finish that sack.
2nd & 16 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Sloooow RPO mesh vs cover 4, slot crossing route gains 14. Wake's entire philosophy exemplified. Linebackers all bit on the slow mesh and the crossing route was open in front of Zanders.
3rd & 2 11 shotgun (trips bunched right) vs 4-3 ZR dive, Jones sliced through the gap and forced it outside, Zanders cleaned up for a loss of 2. The praise for Jones Jr this offseason seems justified. He's been active and is more athletic than I expected.
4th & 3 10 shotgun vs 4-3 3 man rush cover 4, Rueben collapses the pocket and Hartman tucks, Skalski meets and ends him. Turnover on downs. Skalski has reached his final form. This is everything Venables wants in his Mike. Seems better in coverage than we've long gotten from the position as well.
Myles Murphy appreciation gif

Clemson ball, 7:18, Clemson 23, 34-3 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 10 shotgun vs 4-3 IZ to Rencher gains 6. Walker Parks in at LT, dude is mean. The DE dropped back in coverage and Parks chased him down the entire play because he wanted to hit.
2nd & 4 12 pistol vs 4-3 PA seam pass to Allen wide open, gain of 45. Corner, linebackers, and safety all bit and blew cover 4, Allen couldn't ask for an easier catch and run. There had been no film on Clemson throwing to tight ends down the middle so here we are!
1st & 10 12 pistol vs 4-3 OZ to Rencher gains 5. The nose almost split past Stewart on the back side of the zone block, Bockhorst was there though, good seal by Chalk outside to give Rencher the C gap.
2nd & 5 12 pistol vs 4-3 Counter to Rencher gains 3. Bockhorst and Allen pulled and sealed, Rencher almost beat the one unblocked defender in the hole but tripped.
3rd & 2 11 shotgun vs 4-3 RPO dive to Pace gains 16 up the gut. Putman climbed to seal out two linebackers and Stewart had the key block to clear an initial hole.
1st & 3 11 shotgun vs 4-4 IZ to Pace gains 2 between a double OLB fire. Both inside linebackers were unblocked and kept Pace from churning forward.
2nd & 1 11 shotgun vs 4-4 Jet motion, snap bobbled and recovered by Lawrence for a loss of 10. THIS WAS A WILL SWINNEY POP PASS TOUCHDOWN TREVOR JUST LET SLIP AWAY. Swinney had momentum and his blockers were getting the edge for him.
3rd & 11 11 shotgun vs dime Post to Ladson is open against soft cover 3, Ladson dives but can't haul in the touchdown, field goal good. Trevor barely fit this over the box safety, who was trailing out of his underneath zone trying to undercut the route. With his back turned to the QB, a no-no in zone, Ladson was open as if he'd burned man coverage, but Lawrence had to avoid that trailing safety and either put it just out of reach, or the safety impeded Ladson's vision.

From here, all the reserves are in the game and we’re full-on into garbage time.