On Saturday, Clemson eviscerated South Carolina's defense with a simple but effective play: The touch-pass jet sweep. Let's take a look at the first big play the Tigers got by using this. If you watch the rest of the video, you'll see Clemson get another long touchdown out of this play later in the game.
As recounted at Smart Football, the touch-pass jet sweep gained national attention in when Dana Holgerson, Tavon Austin, and West Virginia used it to blast Clemson's defense back in 2011.The play is essentially a jet sweep to a receiver running in motion in which the QB throws a short pass to the receiver instead of handing the ball off. Holgerson and other fans of the concept believe the touch pass gets the play going faster and is also safer because if the receiver drops the pass, it's an incomplete pass rather than a fumble. Remember, because receivers take fewer handoffs, they're more prone to mishandling handoffs than runningbacks.
Gamecocks fans indulged in plenty of schadenfraude after WVU's beatdown over the Tigers, but this year, it was Clemson using the play to embarrass the South Carolina defense. How does the play work in Clemson's offense? As you can see on the play, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson has three options on the play: He can throw the touch pass to the receiver going in motion to one side, he can give the ball to the runningback on a toss sweep to the other side, or he can run inside zone himself.
The play puts a lot of pressure on the end defending the side the sweep is run to. The end has to react quickly, first setting the edge either to make the QB run the play to the other side or to force the receiver back inside if the QB still makes the touch pass. On this play, the end is Bryson Allen-Williams (4); David Johnson (55) would be victimized by the same play later in the game. BAW aggressively attacks inside, presumably expecting Watson to run inside zone. Watson, a smart QB, makes the right decision and takes the touch-pass option. As receiver Artavis Scott (3) breaks down field, Clemson gets some good blocks on D.J. Smith (24) and Sharrod Golightly (9), allowing Bryant to attain the sideline. At this point, it's a footrace. Chris Moody (6) may have had a chance to stop the play short of the goaline if he had recognized what was happening more quickly, but he doesn't get there quite in time.
Chad Morris was wise to make this play a big part of his game plan given that Carolina's end play has been downright awful this year. Still, when you watch BAW crash inside on this play, you can't help but wonder why he expects Watson to run the ball given Watson's knee issues. The QB keeper is an option on this play almost only in theory. Carolina's defensive coaches' inability to pound that fact into our ends' heads may represent the biggest coaching failure of the Clemson game.