Sunday, September 27, 2009

TCU beats Clemson 14-10, a closer look

-Clemson should not be wearing the orange pants for this game, not yet. Not until we beat somebody.

-The first drive is scripted, and I really liked the playcalling variety in terms of plays and formations. It was well-executed for the most part with throws to Taylor, Allen, and Palmer. A low throw to Marquan was dropped in the flat. Parker took a zone read himself off tackle and made the correct decision to take it, but if Jacoby had decided to block, the play would've gained a first down. A screen to Ellington with Jacoby open in the endzone, then another throw to Ford on the next play where Parker never looked to the other side cost us the 6. Had the ball been caught it would've been a first however. FG 3-0. Still, I think this was the best drive of the whole season.

-TCU got out of a hole due to a facemask by Jenkins when we had them stopped. TCU actually ran their zone read variation on this drive and got good yardage, so we had ample time to adjust to this play. On 3rd & 12, Bowers was playing a DT position and got a hand on the football, then it sailed over everyone's head and #34 just happened to be sitting behind the safeties. Maxwell just missed it. The RB shouldn't be back there, but once the ball is tipped the safeties started to come in. Its a fluke play, and TCU got a lucky break. On the TD play, Clay ran in motion off the left side then ran a simple crossing route and made a good catch on a good throw between 3 Clemson defenders. 7-3.

-TCU forces a 3 & out. A screen falls incomplete because Parker was blitzed up the gut, a HB power play to Spiller nets about 2 yards, then a QB option pitch on 3rd & 8 to Spiller gets a couple. I don't like the option call here, and not with Jacoby (not) blocking on that side of the field. Punt of 48.

-Dalton hits his receivers on 3-step drop slants very quick and he's quite accurate. They get one 1st before the end of the quarter then hit another slant to start the 2nd. A Flanker screen gets big yardage because our guys were out of position and overpursued. Maye was right behind the WR and did not read the play, then the DB's got blocked out. We held Turner on a 3rd&2, then the DL collapsed their front and Conner came right around the corner and pulled the RB down from behind on 4th & 1. Turnover on downs.

-Clemson gets a roughing-the-passer call, and a good catch by Palmer got another 1st. A deep vertical route to Spiller 2 plays later that fell incomplete was not PI as I originally thought, but the matchup with Spiller on a LB was exploited later. The throw to Spiller was not to the inside as it should've been; he had to turn around and look to his opposite shoulder and that was the difference in the pass being caught. We get the ball to their 42 and no further. Punt.

-Clemson commited a PI (Chambers) on a 3rd&2 incompletion, which was really an AWFUL call. Chambers was playing the ball and was right with the receiver. A few high throws by Dalton and we force a punt.

-Jaron Brown drops a pass that was behind him on 2nd down PA. Jamie Harper finishes up just short of the first down on a 3rd down Toss Sweep, then on 4th and 1 QB Sneak we got zero push by Cloy/McClain/Austin. Playcalls themselves were good on this drive, we just didnt get it done up front.

-I see what Clemson is doing on the zone read here, Bowers is taking the RB as he should, but then no one behind him is making the tackles on the QB. They are there waiting but Dalton runs right around them, and here its Hall and McDaniel that overpursue themselves out of the play. The defense recognizes the same flanker screen that beat them earlier and we force a 19 yard punt. I am noticing good downfield blocking by their WRs and RBs, unlike us.

-We get the ball with 1:58 in the 2nd Q. Clemson goes back to the hurry-up. Spiller goes out of bounds on a reception, then they dont stop the clock. For the next 20 seconds our offense looks dazed and confused, and aren't getting set, and we take a snap infraction penalty. We run Spiller on a Fly route right down the hash, matched up on the LB as before, and net 60 yards down to the 3. Why don't we line Ford up as a HB in the shotgun set and do it with him? The first TD is called back and Spiller takes it in on lead play behind Austin/Lambert. We moved them off the ball. 10-7.

-TCU hits a few passes underneath but the half runs out.
If we had just played in the 2nd half on offense the way we did in the first, I think we'd win this game. Only the option pitch to Spiller on 3rd & 8 is a playcall I don't think made sense.

-We force a 3 & out.

-Parker overthrows Allen on a corner route. Allen had trouble getting off the blocks and didnt get into his route til later than he should. A quick pass to Palmer was tipped and almost interecepted, Parker threw behind him again. On 3rd down we have to throw, and Parker throws it away on a rollout to the left side, with pressure coming to him, since Lambert decided not to touch the DE at all for some reason. I don't like the 2nd down call, run the football and try to give yourself a 3rd and shorter-than-10. A designed rollout left and your LT doesnt block his End at all....punted to their 25.

-TCU comes out and gets 18 on a keeper by Dalton, 18 again with a quick pass to Young that we barely missed tipping, then 10 more with a zone read give to the RB. Malliciah Goodman gets a sack outrunning their LT. Conner and Chambers stretch out a keeper to force 3rd & 16. We allow them to get into FG position with a great catch on another high throw by their WR Kerley. Why can't Clemson WRs make catches like that? Thankfully they missed the 42 yd FG.

-Rain really starts on this drive. Playcalling is mostly pass (R-P-P-R-Inc-Inc-punt), but Parker had Ford open on the sideline and missed him on 3rd down and we have to punt. We don't seem as in-sync and I wonder why we don't run no-huddle when it worked well earlier. 16 total yards on these two drives.

-Cumbie misses Dalton on another long keeper, overpursuit. On a 3rd & 5 Dalton makes a great throw to Bart Johnson for the first with McDaniel on his back. Again, why don't Clemson WRs make such a play? Palmer could, but Brown/Clear/Ashe? Johnson again pulls in a pass over the middle because we didnt matchup quick enough, Sensabaugh seemed to slip and someone should've picked him up. TCU is still forced to punt by good pass coverage and a key holding call, but managed to run off about 6 minutes from the clock.

-First handoff to CJ gets 3. Parker overthrows a touch pass a little to Spiller in the flat, which he should've caught. On 3rd & 7 at our 20 we call an inside Draw that gets nothing and punt. It makes no sense to run on 3rd down and 7, but at your 20 you can be conservative. I would not have run the football though. End of 3rd Qtr. 35 yard punt give it to them just shy of midfield.

-Wesley runs off-tackle and 4 orange jerseys dont make a play. McDaniel makes a shitty effort on a tackle and he rolls 3 yards before falling down. TCU switches backs on every play. Another couple of run plays also net first downs and then Antoine Hicks beats Maxwell for the TD. He fought for the ball, and had Maxwell taken one step away from him it would be incomplete. I'm not sure it would've been complete by the NFL rule (control and then make a football move), but it never touched the ground and he pins it against Byron and his own waist. TCU 14-10. Maxwell was right where he was supposed to be, it was just another fluke play. 9/10 times that goes incomplete.

-Cloy lets a DT come right up the middle on the first play of the next drive and Parker throws it away incomplete. CJ cuts inside on an OT play behind Rendrick for a 1st, then again on a zone play 34 yards into their territory. CJ takes it up the middle again, don't like the play call there. I'd have thrown and given CJ a breather, there. Harper takes the next one up the middle, and falls down at first touch. The next play we sent CJ back in, and went to an empty set on 3rd and 4. TCU obviously reads pass, and sends a blitz, and Parker's pass to Palmer falls just out of his reach. Another call I don't like. Jackson missed the FG.

Parker is just barely off in his throws, either theyre high or wide. He's also throwing off his back foot too much, most of it because of pressure. He has to set and throw and take the hit. Inside lanes for him to scramble through are not open.

-TCU has changed their zone read a little, using the backside guard as a lead blocker. We still force the punt and get the ball at our 25.

-CJ loses 5 on the first carry, then we try to get half of it back with a screen to Ford. Parker hits CJ in the flat on a crossing route for the 1st down. Parker throws wide again to Ford, who fell down on the play. We're going for a big play and I dont mind the call. CJ is again stopped for no gain on the next play, another 3rd&10. Cloy sends a snap over Parker's head and he throws deep to Ford, and we got a big break with the PI call. Parker hits Brown on a big play called back for an illegal formation, and then hits Jacoby wide open over the middle and we get a horse-collar on top of it. Parker threw off his back foot on this play as well. If they had not blitzed this would probably have been covered and picked off.

TCU crowds the box and Spiller is stopped on a sweep for nothing. I don't agree with that call. RUN AT THEM. Then the play to Allen that worked against GT, and Allen kinda slipped on his cut and was slow getting going again, and Parker sailed it. Parker made a poor decision and threw the ball up, when he had someone in the back of the endzone open a split-second earlier, and it fell incomplete.

Clemson calls a TO, 4th &13 from the 16. Parker sails another one over the middle into coverage. I don't like the call, two receivers are running to the same spot. I would've preferred a fade or corner route here to each side, with them in Cover 2.

Of worthy debate is the decision to go for the TD instead of kicking a FG. At 2 min left, there is no guarantee we'd get this ball back even with 3 timeouts. We had driven 60 yards or so, and had the momentum, so I'd have gone for the 6.

-The D managed to stop them on the next drive and we got it back at our 43 with 1:03 left.

-A skinny post to Ashe falls incomplete, hit his hands. A 9 yard completion to Ashe followed, then ANOTHER FUCKING BOTCHED SNAP costs us about 20 seconds on 3rd down, and then Parker has to throw it up on 4th down.

The OL did their job, they handled Hughes and Parker didnt get sacked, which is better than I expected to happen.

WRs cant run routes or catch the balls that hit their hands, but Parker doesnt always put them where theyre easily caught. I wish Ashe would deliver like the coaches said he could, because I think I've seen him drop 3 slants/posts that were on the money this year.

8 of 12 plays were passes while we had the lead in the 2nd half, 6 fell incomplete. We threw the ball 37 times in the rain. I've pointed out the calls I thought were stupid, only 3 or 4. Parker throws behind his receivers far too often, takes longer to make decisions and has to rush throws.

Clemson doesnt convert on 3rd down because we don't set it up on 1st and 2nd down. Not once am I noticing we ran on 1st and 2nd down in the 2nd half. We had the lead didnt we?

Anyway, on to Maryland, and there better be some fucking revenge for last year.


  1. Hammer meets nail on the 3rd down problem. CU sets itself up for failure by pissing away 1st and 2nd down. It should be obvious that you need to gain yardage on 1st and 2nd down in order to have a reasonable 3rd down distance to attain. With a lead and a passing game that is less than impressive, one would think running the football would be the intuitive thing to do, especially on 1st and 2nd down.

  2. Agree completely with your take on some of the offensive playcalls. We were throwing more in the 2nd half, with less success, when we had the lead. That led to too many 3rd and longs.

    The option play on 3rd and 8 made as much sense as the WR screen on 3rd and 8 did last year. Maybe even less, since we haven't ever had a successful option play, whereas the screens worked sometimes.

    Where the heck was Ellington? Spiller could only do so much.

    I think the draw play was reasonable; it is conservative, but if the D is committed to stopping a pass, you might get a first with a draw if you can get the blocking, especially with a back like Spiller. But it didn't work.

    Our WR play is not good. I know these guys are "young and inexperienced" and all that, but come on. Ford is a senior. Ashe is a junior. Dye is a junior, and he is not even on the field. Do you need a roster of redshirt seniors to make a catch?

    The difference between the TCU WRs and ours was an order of magnitude. Theirs get open, jump in the air, and make circus catches. Ours don't.

    Youth and inexperience - the WRs, or the WR coach Scott?

    Credit *is* due the OL for making Hughes a non-factor. This was a big pleasant surprise.


  3. I just wonder where we'd be if we could catch a football.

  4. Although our tackles played ok and probably did not cost us the game, I would have said before the game that we would not do anything on offense if Hairston did not play. The fact we gained over 100 yards on the ground without Hairston gives me some encouragement for the rest of the season.

    I am dissapointed with the offense, especially in the red zone, but if we can establish the run, chew up the clock, and not put the defense in a bad position, then I think we can have a pretty good season.


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