New TCU play hurts Tiger defense

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – TCU quarterback Andy Dalton found almost all of his success on the ground on Saturday by employing a new play that the Clemson coaching staff had not seen on film, and Dalton seemed to run almost at will through the line of scrimmage and beyond.

The play is a take-off on the zone read option, but instead of actually doing through with the read, the quarterback would fake the zone read then pull backside and chase the pulling guard. Dalton ran the ball 19 times for 86 yards, and that particular play was the one that the Clemson defense could not seem to stop.

Other than those runs, Clemson’s defense gave up just two touchdowns, and one of those came after defensive lineman Da’Quan Bowers tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage on third down. Bowers’ tip went high in the air, and landed right in the arms of TCU receiver, whose 58-yard catch and run set up one of the two TCU touchdowns, and left Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele happy but not content with his unit’s performance.

“We gave up five third conversions,” Steele said. “All five of them were critical, but one of them was a fluke play when the ball was tipped, but the other four were just as critical. It was a hard game, and our guys played hard, fought to the very end. At the end, we got the ball back, and they kept fighting. They have the right kind of attitude, we just have to help them more as coaches and work through situations.”

Steele said that the play with Dalton carrying was really the only play the Tigers had not seen on film as they studied the Horned Frogs last week.

“They ran just one play that we hadn't seen on film – but it was a good one,” he said.
When one reporter asked Steele why the zone read was giving his defense so much trouble, Steele explained the difference between a true zone read and what Dalton was running on Saturday.

“Not to get too technical, but on the zone read, the quarterback fakes to the running back going this way and the quarterback goes the other way,” Steele said. “What they were doing was faking zone read one way, the quarterback would step like he was going this way but they would pull the guard and chase it the other way. It was a new look. We got over there and drew it up, got it adjusted out, but we were doing it on the fly and adjusting it on every call.

“I don’t know if it’s just luck or if they are just that smart, but there were a couple of those calls that we really needed something to happen and we didn’t. The ones that were base defense calls against, we got it stopped. But the ones where we were trying to have some pressure and make something happen, we maybe should have just left those calls alone and just base defended it. “

Clemson linebacker Brandon Maye said the play was causing trouble because of TCU spreading receivers across the field.

“They were spreading us out and forcing us to play one linebacker and forcing that one linebacker to play two gaps,” Maye said. “All you can say is they did a good job scheming us up.”

Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp said it’s tough to prepare for everything with the limited time available during the week.

“We knew coming into the game they would have something different for us, and he [Dalton] did a good job against us,” Sapp said. “It’s tough during the week to prepare for something different, and then to come out on Saturday and try and adjust, it’s hard. But you have come out and just play hard and do whatever the coaches say to do.”

Steele said the most disappointing facet of the day was the fact that he felt the defense gave everything they had, and still ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

“I think they fought hard, and gave us a great effort, and they are a lot of fun to coach,” Steele said. “The most disappointing thing is that it still goes as a loss. But they are still coming to work, and we just have to do a better job as coaches of helping them get things worked out. If they keep fighting like they have been, we are going to win a lot of ballgames.”

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