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Miami vs. Clemson Preview Part 2


~ contributed by the esteemed EOTH blogger, Captain Optimist ~


After watching the Clemson-Auburn game again, the strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes of Clemson’s offense have become very clear.

As Coach Shannon said, Clemson is a screen team. They run all-sorts of screens, to the RBs, TEs and WRs. Reviewing the Auburn game revealed that the deeper strategies that shape their tactics are misdirection and quick strikes. This is their strategic bread and butter.

Clemson’s opening drive against Auburn showcased their strengths in running draws, screens, rollouts and play-action fakes. The vast majority of their positive yardage came on draws and screens, with the TD coming on a fake-option shovel pass to Jamie Harper. However, when Clemson ran straight-ahead, Aub’s DL held its own comfortably, stuffing the plays at the LOS. Also, when Parker dropped straight back he was hurried on a few occasions. These two weaknesses would come back to bite them in the 2nd half.

As the 1st half continued and Auburn’s defense adjusted to the pace and style of the Clemson attack, Clemson used more rollouts, short-passes and straight hand-offs, relying on Harper and Ellington’s considerable cut-back ability and acceleration for positive plays, along with the TE good speed and hands on rollouts. This next stage of tactics proved successful for another 10 points, giving Clemson a 17-3 halftime edge.

In the 1st half Auburn’s defense seemed thoroughly unprepared for Clemson’s tactics. The LBs in particular had no clue what was coming from one play to the next, and were always late and usually wrong. As I mentioned previously, they played a man and struggled to find their man on nearly every play of that drive and most of the half. Auburn’s DL also seemed unprepared for draws and screens, allowing Clemson’s OL to seize the advantage and move them in whatever direction they pleased on these plays. They resembled our defense last year against Clemson.

In the 2nd half, Auburn made some changes to their LB deployment and attacked downhill instead of reading and reacting. They also got better penetration from their DL. The last part of their changes were bringing their DBs closer to the LOS to challenge the WRs and come up harder and sharper in run support.

These changes basically neutralized Clemson’s offense. They only scored one TD in the 2nd half, at the beginning of the 4th.  Parker was also injured and played with a great deal of pain. This affected Dabo’s playcalling somewhat, forcing him to call more straight hand-offs, draws and screens than he may have liked, especially since Auburn’s defense was no longer falling for the fakes. On the TD drive the main play was a PI call against Auburn. After that it was a hard fought, gritty drive with several clutch runs by Ellington and Harper, along with a couple of pass plays, one to the TE and another to a WR.

I haven’t mentioned much about their WRs because they play such a tertiary role in the offense. But they do deserve mention. They have a group of about four guys, led by Xavier Dye #21, and Jaron Brown #18, who have a good combination of size and speed. Because Parker so rarely takes deep pocket drops, these players rarely catch balls downfield. The majority of their routes are screens and slants, with the occasional post. As a group, they’re tall and rangy but not extremely fast or strong. Dye has good agility for a player his size, 6’5” 210, but not blazing speed. They have a freshman, DeAndre Hopkins, who is supposed to be a burner. I’d expect him to be used on screens or reverses if the opportunity presents itself.

For our defense to have similar results as Auburn, without giving up 17 points in the 1st half, we must do a few things:

#1…..Stuff the middle run with penetration and guard the cutback lanes. Ellington and Harper are very talented with cutting back and picking up big yards. Stopping that will seriously constrict their comfort zone.

#2…..Snuff out draws and screeens. This will be our LBs time to shine. There will be plenty of them to the RBs, WRs, and TE, at all positions on the field. But the basic elements of draws and screens are the same. It’s just a matter of constant awareness.

#3……Pressure Parker in both pocket and rollout passing.

#4……LBs must pick up RBs in motion at the LOS, they cannot get behind them. I expect Buchanon, Spence and a safety to handle these challenges. This, along with pressure on Parker will be the difference in the game for us.


Clemson’s defense revolves around it’s DL and it’s All-American safety #2 DeAndre McDaniel. The LBs are young, with two sophomores and a freshman starting. The other DBs are graduate student Byron Maxwell #36, senior Marcus Gilchrist #12, both at CB, and sophomore Rashad Hall at FS. It was Hall, not McDaniel as I claimed, who was so badly out of position against Auburn on the big TD pass that put Auburn in the lead for good.

The weakness of the defense is the LBs. Clemson knows this and cheats McDaniel into the box often. Against Auburn this tactic worked well in the 1st half but in the second, Auburn penetrated the DL with running plays then went long for deep passes.  Clemson’s DBs had good coverage until they were regularly challenged.  Then they had problems.

McDaniel’s is best in run support but plays all over the field. He’s not very fast but he’s a very versatile veteran who knows where to be and has seen all the tricks of the trade.

Last year this defense caused our OL all sorts of trouble in run and pass blocking. I haven’t seen any major changes or improvements from their defense this year.  They dominated Auburn in the 1st half, although Auburn’s run-pass option playcalling was abysmal, so it’s difficult to tell how well they handle a less predictable attack, although North Texas put up some good run-pass numbers on them even when their 1st unit.

Against Auburn they blitzed very little. Against the U I expect them to blitz much more, like last year, and use McDaniel to cover the gap left by the blitzer or to occupy the receiver they think J12 is most likely to throw to.  This tactic is a Russian Roulette of course, and could easily cost them a lot of yards and points. It could also get them sack and turnovers. Everything will depend on our blitz pick-up.  If they fake the blitz and drop back in coverage relying on their DL to pressure J12, this could also work both ways.

Regardless, I expect them to target J12 until we burn them enough to put them on their heels. KT could have a big game, as should TB3. To KO them, however, we must be able to run for 100+ yards. Mike James could see the most action of all the RBs because he’s the best blocker.

Overall, [when I hear] Clemson’s a talented team, dangerous in many ways, but with some distinct weaknesses that can be exploited. If we constrict their offense to Parker beating us from the pocket and burn their defense early and often, this game could get quiet very quickly. Discipline and awareness are the keys to this game, for our defense and J12 especially. To me this is a great stage to really show how much we’ve improved and to put the OSU game to bed, until next year.

  1. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    who’s on first?

  2. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    Hurricane Randy, via a walk!!!!

  3. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    Just stole second on the way to third

  4. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    Does he stEAL HOME?

  5. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:


    As long as Shalala is at the U, Randy has a job. I do believe he earned the extension and will get another in the next two years.

  6. What Randy said.

    Congrats on first, by the way.

  7. My boss and I just walked to and from 7-11 for a break and we got 2 ‘Canes cheers on the 5 minute walk.

    Sometimes I forget that I am wearing a ‘Canes shirt and I looked at him puzzled the first time like “how did they know I’m a ‘Canes fan?”

    The []_[] Invented Swagger shirt might have tipped them off.

    Looks like Boca has some ‘Canes fans over here, woosh woosh! 😀

  8. I gotcha back, Ran-dogg…..

  9. avatar
    CanesCanesCanes says:

    Hurricane Randy says:
    October 1, 2010 at 3:33 PM
    As long as Shalala is at the U, Randy Shannon has a job. I may be a lone wolf here but I believe he deserved the extension and will get another in the next two years


    Isn’t it obvious yet. You’re not alone. I also believed he deserved an extension. It’s just a down payment on greater things to come. I believe that strongly.

  10. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    I got ya, C3

  11. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    Breaking News,

    Florida man says drugs found in his buttocks, not his. When he was pulled over for speeding police officers smelled marijuana. When he was searched they also found a bag with 27 pieces of rock cocaine. His explanation was that the weed was his but the rock cocaine wasn’t.

    This story leave me with many unanswered questions and they should probably stay that way!! LOL True Story, honest!

  12. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    This story leaves me…… should I say

  13. The boys just landed in SC!

    Mike, check out tomorrow’s game day blog. I thought maybe it could put a smile on some people’s faces since some of y’all sounded like you were going to jump off a bridge during Pitt.

    And I will keep my promise and not ready anything posted during the game!

  14. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    Go Canes!!!!

  15. avatar
    KLCaneFan says:

    Dang Seantrel is big!!

    @hurricanesports: We are boarded for Clemson. Guess who’s 2 rows up in row 26

  16. He is, KL!!!

    At the summer send off (the day after I first saw him in person) I was telling a dude how big he is and he was full of smug doubt like “um, sweetie, did you ever meet Bryant McKinnie because my wife decorated his house.”

    Sidenote: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Did I meet Bryant McKinnie? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    I’m like yes, and Seantrel is THAT big. I’m saying it in a “Mary Knows Football” sort of way, douche, not in a “oh, wow, golly gee, offensive linemen are BIG boys!”

    [insert eye roll here]

  17. Wait, I forgot, chicks don’t know anything about football according to a braniac in Ohio.

  18. avatar
    Hurricane Randy says:

    Oh you mean Blockhead? I mean Block O?

  19. Go Canes!

  20. More work from Canefreak2001……(Who’s been FIRE with these relics)

  21. Again, don’t forget to watch our boy Phil Dorsett and the rest of STAHS, tear up some GA team @ 7, on ESPNU.

  22. Bam.

    Dorsett just made some DB hold his pocket. He vaporized him on the post route, and went for six.

  23. Dorsett is fast

  24. JSQ, that’s a funny Game Day Blog!

    I laughed out loud about seven times. :)

  25. Dorsett AGAIN!!!!!

    80 yard TD catch and run. Those guys can’t TOUCH the kid.

    And he’s got on The U eyeblack.

  26. Bg has got to be somewhere going HAM!!

  27. avatar
    Captain Optimist aka Cavaleer says:

    JSQ/MM01, I found a typo…….in brackets…


    Overall, [when I hear] Clemson’s a talented team, dangerous in many ways but with some distinct weaknesses that can be exploited.


    I must have been editing and didn’t finish the entire sentence. lol

  28. avatar
    Captain Optimist aka Cavaleer says:

    Seantrel is truly a Mountain. Can’t wait until he takes command of the left side.

  29. Dorsett isn’t in the top 100 for Rivals, Scout, or ESPN.

    He should be in there around the next cut.

    I feel the same way about Eli Rogers. He looked like the best player PERIOD, at that 7 on 7 thing.

  30. I took care of it for ya.

  31. yeah, Hurri, He’ll be a 4* before its over

  32. avatar
    Captain Optimist aka Cavaleer says:

    MM01, thanks.

  33. Did you see that you now have your own category, Cap?

  34. You know how we call this school “This U” and that school “That U?”

    Is Is STA WR U? Considering that Hankerson will likely be a first day’er, very shortly.

  35. Scratch that……WR High.

  36. avatar
    Captain Optimist aka Cavaleer says:

    Yo, if Jonathan slow-ass Baldwin goes in the 1st there is no friggin way Hankerson doesn’t go in the 1st.

  37. avatar
    PhillyCane says:

    I feel like Baldwin seemed slow because our dline got to their qb so fast their was really no time for there wr’s to get open. The only one big play I remember was after the reverse that failed they threw a slant for a first down but that was it

  38. avatar
    CanesCanesCanes says:

    Does the game actually start @ noon sharp? I have an early morning thing & then a 3 hour drive home – going to be cutting it close.

  39. avatar
    pb(EOTHROH10) says:

    CCC it will be no later than 12:10

  40. I just learned that DeAndre McDaniel will be playing with a cast on one of his hands tomorrow.

    Huge deal.

    A Hurricane buddy told me. Checking now to back him up.

  41. Harris has thrown 30 career INTs, 20 of which have come on the road.

  42. avatar
    The Truth says:

    Back to our conversation today:

    Utah State is handing BYU their asses

  43. Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel suffered a broken hand at Auburn and is wearing a protective cast but is still expected to start on Saturday against Miami, according to a school spokesman.

    McDaniel was not on the injury report this week because the injury is not expected to affect his play, the spokesman said.

    Heather Dinich

  44. I would think it would affect his ability to make a pick 6!

  45. Yeah, T, all my Mormon friends on Facebook are breaking out the mock swear words!

    Dang it!
    Golly darn!

  46. I agree! Huge!

    Truth, you articulated very well today what I think is on most of our minds.

    It’s a different game and landscape today than even 10 years ago.

  47. avatar
    CanesCanesCanes says:

    PB – thanks…anyway, hate that lameass excuse of a “U” on their helmets – how dare they

  48. ‘TWas the night before game day . . .

  49. Sebastian thinks Jacowy … Er, Jacory is going to score eleventy touchdowns tomorrow. I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant by just licking my face. There was a “Go ‘Canes!” in there, too.

    Or perhaps I have been cooking too long and am starting to hear voices.

  50. probably the latter! j/k

    You leading the Game Day Watch, JSQ?

  51. Yep. And catering a tailgate on Monday. Busy weekend!

  52. Sounds like it!

    Oh yeah, the Phins play Monday night!

  53. GO CANES!!


  54. Holy Crap!

    I just found out my Mom is lurking on our site!

    Hi Mom!

    Randy is crazy! More than ever!

    No wonder…

  55. You can’t sleep either, Mike?

  56. Nope!

    I’m hosting neighbors all day tomorrow for CF watching!

    They better bring beer!

  57. To quote our dear Canez 1: wakey wakey hands of the snakey

  58. It’s game day!!!!

  59. avatar
    CANEZILLA says:


  60. Jacory will throw eleventy touchdowns and no interceptions!

  61. ^ that was Sebastian. I say 3 TDs, no ints.

  62. avatar
    NotAGentlemenCane says:

    When’s the Game Day Blog go up? 😀

  63. Here is a pic of Seantrel on the plane to Clemson…

  64. Hurri’ says:
    October 1, 2010 at 7:39 PM
    Bg has got to be somewhere going HAM!!

    Yes sir ! I told you guys when he was a junior he was a great looking slot and returner type guy. LOVED his game vs Byrnes last year and they had some very good talent on Byrnes last year. Dorsett is a BALLER! He HAS to move up in the rankings, but it goes to show, those rankings are so subjective and no one really knows what these kids will become, but Dorsett will be a game breaker, he has SPEED to kill!

  65. avatar
    KLCaneFan says:

    GAME DAY!!!!!

    Too bad I’m sick as a dog. :(

  66. Good morning all! GO CANES!!!!

    Great football today!

  67. JSQ, I’m posting the Game Day Blog!