By Heath Bradley.
By Heath Bradley
CLEMSON – In this feature we will take a look at a play Clemson used to score, detailing the formation, how the defense reacted, and what the Tigers did to find the end zone.
In the first installment of this feature, we will discuss the Tigers first scoring play in their 56-20 victory over the Duke Blue Devils last Saturday night in Durham.
After a 23-yard kick return from Sammy Watkins gave the Tigers the ball at the Clemson 24-yard line, Clemson wasted no time starting to move the ball down the field. On the Tigers first play from scrimmage Andre Ellington scampered up the left side for a 26-yard gain to midfield. Over the next six plays the Tigers matriculated the ball down the field to the Duke 5-yard line, including a 34-yard pass from Tajh Boyd to Jaron Brown on third down for a first-and-goal at the Duke 8-yard line.
Following a 3-yard rush from Roderick McDowell, the Tigers found themselves with second-and-goal at the Duke 5-yard line.
With the ball on the right hash the Tigers took the field with Nuk Hopkins lined up wide to the left, Sam Cooper on the line at the line of scrimmage and Boyd, McDowell, Watkins, and Darrel Smith in the backfield. Smith was lined up directly behind Cooper as the 3-back (H-Back) with Boyd and McDowell in the pistol. The one wild card was Sammy Watkins; who was lined up directly to the right of Boyd, behind right guard Tyler Shatley.
With Watkins in the backfield, the Duke defense shaded to the right side of the field. All three Duke linebackers lined up on the short side of the field along with one of the safeties. With the other safety walking up to the line of scrimmage in run support, Boyd quickly recognized press-man coverage on the play and communicated with Hopkins to change it. The result: a perfectly thrown fade route to the corner of the end zone for the Tigers first touchdown of the day.
With Sammy Watkins drawing the attention of the defense, Hopkins found himself once again receiving single coverage with no safety help.
Boyd to Hopkins has become a potent combination for the Tigers in 2012. While this play may not have had the importance of his fade touchdown reception versus Auburn, Hopkins ability to catch a slightly underthrown ball over the Duke cornerback propelled Clemson in the right direction in an important victory to keep the Tigers ACC title hopes alive.