Tiger Insider Issue 3 Sneak Preview: Inside the Playbook - The Pod Formation

by - Correspondent -
In the Pod formation Theo Mougros (60) is split out wide with Matt Bailey (80) and Brian Wofford (25).

Watching Rich Rodriguez in the press box is like watching a kid in front of the television playing Nintendo.

Using his headset and voice as his control pad, he has complete control of the Clemson offense.

Sometimes, even the opposing sideline.

Rodriguez could see South Carolina's coaches and players scrambling to come up with a defense when Clemson split its two guards out with its wide receivers early in the second quarter.

"We saw them on the sideline in between series drawing it up on the board, spending time on it," he said.

Rodriguez doesn't smile much in the press box. Like a kid in front of video game, he stares at the field with his brow furrowed. He laughs, though, when he thinks about the confusion he caused against the Gamecocks with a formation called "Three Peas in a Pod."

"During halftime you really have just ten minutes to make adjustments," he said. "So, if you're spending five minutes on this that's five minutes less you're spending on the other things. It's just something to create confusion."

Rodriguez put in the play the Monday before the game. Early in the second quarter with Clemson losing 6-0, guard T.J. Watkins split out to the left with receiver Rod Gardner on the line of scrimmage. Mal Lawyer stood behind the pair.

On the other side, Theo Mougros split out with Matt Bailey and Brian Wofford.

That left just center Kyle Young and tackles Akil Smith and John McDermott to protect quarterback Woody Dantzler and running back Travis Zachery.

"Basically, all it was we just moved two guards and put them out wide," said Rodriguez. "Peas in a pod. You hope that if you've got three out there, then they've got to have three out there."

Rodriguez tried to spread the field and make the linebackers make a tough decision: stay back to pass protect over the middle or come up to stop Dantzler.

Rodriguez ran the formation three times. On the first play, South Carolina jumped offsides. On the second play, Dantzler completed a pass to Matt Bailey over the middle.

"The linebacker was in a bind," said Rodriguez. "Do I go over up here to help against the running back or do I go over here to help the cornerback."

Bailey caught the pass for a 20-yard gain to the South Carolina 35-yard line.

On the third play, Dantzler ran the ball and picked up a couple of yards. A holding penalty brought the ball back ten yards, but damage had been done. Clemson scored a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead six plays later.

The formation caused a buzz in the stands and confusion on the South Carolina sideline.

Just one thing disappointed Rodriguez. "I thought they would have to use a timeout," he said.

Rodriguez said the play came out of the section of Clemson's game plan called trickery.

"We usually have five or six plays we consider trickery," he said. "We have a little box in our game plan called trickery. It's not all reverses, but it's plays that are out of the norm."

Maybe they're out of the norm for some coaches, but not for Rodriguez. He experimented with plenty of trickery coaching in front of a crowd that usually numbered 300 at Glenville State.

"That gives you a little more luxury to experiment," he said. Trickery stayed in Rodriguez' blood after he left Glenville State.

"I think when I watch teams on television that they all look boring compared to what we do," he said.

Editor's Note: The previous article was a revised version of one of the articles you will see in the next issue of the Tiger Insider. This magazine is just getting off the ground and the next issue will be the third we have published. I want to encourage all Tiger fans to get behind this project right now because we want to continue bring this type of coverage of Clemson sports for many years. We also now have gift subscriptions available which would make excellent Christmas gifts. Order today and we will send out a card with your name on it and in January they will receive their first issue of Tiger Insider.

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