Clemson did it–they scored 35 points against what some previously considered to be the best college defense of all time. Just how did Clemson beat Bama? I charted Clemson’s offense throughout the game and found they had consistent success with a few concepts; in the pass game, Clemson beat Bama with tosser and empty smash divide. In the run game, Clemson gained significant yardage with several buck sweep and jet action runs.
The Tosser pass game concept is a double slant combo from the same side of the field. The inside slant usually runs “fat,” or at a lower angle, while the outside runs “skinny,” or at a higher angle. Clemson struggled early, but was able to move the ball with tosser. On 2nd & 11 from their own 29, Clemson gets its first completion of the game on empty left tosser right early in the middle of the first quarter:
With Clemson and Alabama set for a rematch in the National Championship game, I’ll be looking for two specific plays Clemson had success with in their win over Ohio State: the QB counter pitch and a unique jet sweep pitch. Let’s take a further look at each scheme.
QB Counter Pitch
The QB counter pitch is a natural evolution of the QB counter trey read, depicted below:
Instead of riding the QB/RB mesh point and reading the end man on the line of scrimmage, Clemson creates fast flow and misdirection with the QB’s first step and a fake pitch. As for the blocking, there are two pullers like counter trey read, but the Center and H-back pull instead of the Guard and Tackle. This makes the blocking scheme more like Counter OF, and is a better fit for the backfield action. Below, Clemson gets the middle Linebacker and play side Defensive End blocked without ever touching them because of the pitch action: