Since the Texas game our running game has been really good. But, Clemson absolutely shut our running game down cold! What happened??
Running Game Breakdown:
1. We pretty much abandoned the run at half time. The first quarter we ran 11 times (plus a QB sneak). The second quarter we ran 3 times and in the 3rd quarter we only ran it twice, one of which was a 4th and 1 which we didn’t pick up.
Out of those 16 runs, only 5 of them could be considered successful. The first two runs of the game were successful, there was a short yardage goalline run in the 1st quarter that we picked up, and there was a one-off fancy new play that got a little over 10 yards. Then in the 2nd Quarter we converted a 3rd and short. That’s it. All the others were unsuccessful except for maybe one run that just barely got over 3.5 yards.
Half of the runs got between 0 – 3.5 yards, two actually lost yards.
2. A focus of the gameplan going in was to pull both the LG and LT and have the QB read the DE. This worked for the first two plays, but then the DE started crashing in and the play didn’t work after that. It was a poor design because there was no one to block the LB if the QB pulled the ball. This accounted for a few of the unsuccessful runs.
Two plays were bad reads, and there were a couple of bad play calls.
3. Ty Darlington (center) really struggled. Almost half of the bad runs Ty got beat (5 of the 11). O. Brown the LT got beat once, but that was it for the OL. The OL were not dominated like many think. There were a couple plays where an OL wasn’t able to get off a combo block, but really the OL wasn’t beat and didn’t get pushed back. Other than the center, they held their own for the most part.
4. The safeties were really aggressive and played closer to the line than most teams we’ve played. It was a terrific defensive gameplan and Brent really won the chess match for sure.
5. Their DE’s are terrific at playing the zone read, it’s almost not even worth trying it. They can play both options. Their defense is really well coached at being in their right fits, not making mistakes, and squeezing the holes.
This is a perfect example of the kind of defense that Riley has got to learn how to beat. If he wants to be a National Championship coordinator he has to have an answer for this type of defense. This was the kind of defense I was concerned about Riley being able to beat even before the season started. You can’t beat them with a talent advantage because they can match up with anyone. And you can’t beat them just by executing certain routes better than they can defend them, because they are technically sound. You have to use numbers and leverage to your advantage and execute perfectly while forcing the defense to stay honest.