Play 2: Vs. Clemson, 3rd quarter, 9:40 remaining, 2nd & 7
What the offense is running: Fake jailbreak screen out of shotgun to a running back screen.
What the defense is running: Cover 2, the defense looks to be playing contain on the edge.
What Zach Allen is tasked to do: Contain the edge out of the 5-technique.
What happens: Clemson, per usual, is running a rather complicated play that’s reminiscent of Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs’ playbook. With the right quarterback (Trevor Lawrence is just that), the fake screen to running back screen on the opposite side can fool any defensive lineman. It’s essentially designed to do just that.
But, Zach Allen isn’t any defensive lineman. He’s played Clemson multiple times in his career and was prepared for this fake. I can’t stress this enough; though the play looked like a bit of a fluke for Allen, this is the epitome of smart, gap-disciplined football he brings. He gets in front of the pass, then uses his 6-foot-4 frame to make a deflection.
Though Lawrence gets the ball back, Allen is aware of the situation and makes the sack. These type of plays are essentially runs, they aren’t supposed to be sacks. If it wasn’t for Zach Allen, it would likely have been a completion.
- A more minor, yet important aspect of his game, Allen is a ball-swatting machine. He tends to put his hands up when he nears the quarterback and has the perfect blend of length and height to take advantage of it. Per Pro Football Focus, he had 19 pass deflections in 2018 alone.
- This is an advanced concept by Clemson that is used heavily in the NFL. Zach Allen’s ability to sniff it out and play disciplined is why it wasn’t successful. It’s apparent that he’s a film room warrior.
- Though Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers won this game, Allen consistently won battles in the trenches. His tape in this game is impressive as not only did he create sacks, he was constantly in the face of Lawrence and batted down multiple passes.