Everyone Saw This Coming: Clemson vs FSU 1st Quarter Film Review

As if a bye week off a close call in Chapel Hill weren’t enough, Dabo Swinney and staff found a goat in the media which allowed them to capitalize on the perceived outside adversity and get their team aggressive and loose. Anyone who’s followed Clemson in recent years knew the offense would open up after a week off to self-scout — Chapel Hill only highlighted how badly it needed to happen — and focused, emphatic execution matched the aggressive calls we saw on Clemson’s opening drive.

The ROY bus is revved up; the offense will further mix in tendency breakers, Brent Venables’ defense — the starters, at least — dominated yet again, and Clemson at last looks like the team most expected they would be last month. Poor FSU never stood a chance against the perfect storm Dabo brewed up after the bye.

Clemson opening drive

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun (Higgins field, Ross boundary) vs nickel Jet motion, PA go to Higgins vs cover 3 fire, gains 40. One of the few pure deep calls of the season, no reads or checks, just a called deep shot to the best player on offense 5 games in.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Toss sweep to field vs cover 4 Mike bullet, Etienne pulls up and throws a back shoulder dart(!!!) to Ross, gain of 23. Told y’all Dabo was mad.
False start, 1st & 15 11 pistol vs nickel Stretch OZ to Etienne gains 12 in the face of a Sam fire My favorite run call we almost never see, Etienne in space is always good. Ever better when the Sam/Star blitzes off the edge and is immediately sealed out of the play.
2nd & 3 12 shotgun vs 3-4 Power to Etienne gains 2 For all FSU’s flaws, they are still big inside, and the OL sealed them out. Chalk couldn’t quite get enough of the filling safety to get Etienne the extra half yard for the marker.
3rd & 1 12 shotgun vs 3-4 Power to Etienne stopped for no gain FSU found immediate penetration off the backside edge, and Achrum missed his initial block, no chance.
4th & 1 12 shotgun vs 3-4 Shovel option to Etienne, touchdown Since the GT game a year ago this has been Clemson’s most reliable short yardage play without the old jumbo package.

FSU ball, 12:09, FSU 25, 7-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 ZR keeper gains 2 Davis shed the center so quickly it almost looked like a midline read.
2nd & 8 10 shotgun vs 4-3 RB screen away from strong side cover 3 overload, dropped by Akers Nothing doing even if Akers held on; this screen thrown into the blitz would’ve been a big gain though.
3rd & 8 11 shotgun vs nickel (3 safeties, Simmons MOF unless otherwise noted) Deep dig vs cover 4 fire zone gains 15. Tempo beat the defense, too many men on field penalty declined.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel IZ to Akers gains 4 FSU has to be able to run against this light front; Foster crashed inside and the entire line was thus sealed out.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs nickel Blackman drops the snap, immediately rolls out and throws it away THE ENTIRE FSU LINE JUST CUT BLOCKED, END THEM DABO.
3rd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs cover 3 fire zone Sam/SS overload, curl complete for 3 yards Thomas was great in flat coverage, was there to meet Kendrick for the stop.

Clemson ball, 8:30, Clemson 34, 7-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Jet motion IZ to Etienne gains 7 Entire OL stood up the FSU front, Etienne broke an arm tackle in the hole and it’s an automatic 5 from there.
2nd & 3 11 shotgun vs nickel Swing pass to Etienne vs cover 4 gains 9 More easy yards; back 4 dropped and the 3 underneath were in the middle.
1st & 10 11 shotgunv (2×2 bunch) vs 3-4 Jet pop pass to Rodgers gains 6 Happy to see this simply because much of the “eye candy” has disappeared from the offense, and getting it to Rodgers in space is good; potentially pulling linebackers outside to open up the IZ is even better.
2nd & 4 11 shotgun vs nickel Called IZ, Lawrence pulls and hits Overton on the quick hitch for 8 This is more like the “take what is given” approach the staff covets. UNC dictated to Clemson and made the offense wrong more often than not; like I said in the FSU defense preview, they don’t disguise and are entirely reactionary. Easy to take what’s given.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel PA curl to Ross vs SOFT cover 4 gains 11 Ridiculously easy, nobody near Ross but an underneath Sam/Star. Little inside move and then run outside for yards.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Tunnel screen to Higgins gains 4 Should’ve been a bigger gain, Chalk and Cervenka BOTH missed blocks on the corner, who missed the tackle, and the Sam/Star was free to make the stop.
2nd & 6 11 pistol vs nickel Stretch OZ to Etienne gains 13 MOAR OUTZIDE ZONE PLZ. Again, the Sam/Star blitz off the edge ran himself out of the play and that left one fewer edge defender to corral Etienne before he got to the edge.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Jet motion power to Etienne gains 3 Pulled the right tackle on power, jet motion made this possible. Eye candy isn’t just eye candy, it’s necessary…
2nd & 6 12 shotgun vs 3-4 Jet motion, QB counter gains 7 for the TD Further evidence Lawrence is a viable option in short yardage and goal line now. Opponents have yet to respect it. Davis Allen again paves the way; Chalk’s snap count will continue to shrink at this rate.

FSU ball, 4:41, FS 25, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Jet motion, reverse to Terry gains 4 XT and Muse both missed in the backfield, should’ve been a huge loss.
2nd & 6 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Orbit motion, fake TO shovel gains 15 Shovel option was the perfect counter to an overload off the edge; only Skalski was in the hole to fill but was easily blocked by a climbing center.
1st & 10 11 pistol vs 4-3 Busted play, Hornibrook tucks and is hit for a loss of 1. This was the rare called run in 2019 which didn’t have a quick pass the QB could check to. Hornibrook tried to check but every receiver was blocking.
2nd & 11 11 shotgun vs 4-3 Dropback vs man cover 1, double DE drop paired with double LB bullets, Hornibrook throws behind the receiver (who beat Muse on a deep cross), diving interception by Muse. A good throw is a possible TD since Wallace in the deep middle vacated to double the field receiver along the sideline; even a merely weak throw would’ve been a first down. Noodle arm plus poor accuracry equals pick.

Clemson ball, 3:13, Clemson 42, 14-0 Clemson lead

Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
Down & Distance Formation Play Analysis
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Lawrence checks out of a draw, pass tipped and caught by Lawrence for no gain. The tip was fortunate since the Sam and corner both were sitting on short routes for pick sixes.
2nd & 10 10 shotgun vs nickel Dropback vs cover 4, Lawrence rolls out and tucks for 10 yards Could’ve hit Ross early but the scramble netted more yards ultimately.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Bucksweep to Dixon gains 5 Bockhorst on the pull didn’t have anyone to block, a good sign, and was so mad about it he thumped and tackled a linebacker just because.
False start, 2nd & 10 10 shotgun vs nickel Midline ZR dive to Dixon gains 9 Noles whiffing in the hole and Dixon running through the rest.
3rd & 1 11 shotgun vs 3-4 Split zone to Etienne gains 11 Pollard and Simpson mauled the nose and gave Etienne a clean hole, then he spun off the scrum and dragged dudes for 8 more yards.
1st & 10 11 shotgun vs nickel Power option keeper gains 5 Lawrence just broke a linebacker’s tackle and made him hold onto his ankles for dear life just to get him down.

End of quarter.

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Author:

Alex Craft