Anatomy of a Bad Play

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Note: Text by Chris Coleman, video production by Will Stewart

Lots of people have been discussing Frank Beamer’s reason for punting on
fourth and nine from the Clemson 32 in Saturday’s loss. It’s a debatable play,
but it never should have come down to that, because the Tiger defense tried to
hand the Hokies an easy first down on the previous play. Tech didn’t take
advantage, and we’re going to show you why.

Here’s the video of the play.


Virginia Tech is in the shotgun formation, with David Wilson aligned to the
right of Logan Thomas. The Hokies have three receivers on the left side: Danny
Coale on the outside (slightly off the screen), Corey Fuller in the middle and
Jarrett Boykin on the inside. D.J. Coles is the lone receiver on the far right
side of the formation.

Pre-snap, Clemson aligns in a dime formation with three down linemen, two
linebackers and six defensive backs. At the very beginning of the video, you can
see the Clemson free safety standing between the 19 and 20 yard line, and he’s
backing up. He’s probably back at the 15 when the ball is snapped. That’s your
first clue that the Tigers are going to be using at least one deep safety.

The strong safety aligns as if he might be used as a robber, but before the
snap he charges the line of scrimmage as a blitzer. With the free safety backing
up, and the strong safety charging in, there is going to be something open over
the middle of the field.

When the ball is snapped, all three linemen rush the quarterback, along with
both linebackers and the strong safety. It’s a six-man rush, and the Hokies have
all five offensive linemen and David Wilson in to block. The linemen and Wilson
do a great job, and the Tech offense finds itself in a very promising situation.

D.J. Coles

First, let’s focus on D.J. Coles, the wide receiver at the top of the screen.
With the strong safety charging in, and the cornerback playing soft coverage,
Coles has a couple of options. I’m not sure what Virginia Tech’s hot reads call
for him to run in this situation, but here are a couple of ideas:

1: With the safety charging in, run a slant to the vacated part of the field.
You have to dig hard