August 31, 2008
UA bottles bubble screen
ATLANTA - One of Clemson's most effective offensive plays - the bubble screen - didn't play much of a factor Saturday night. The Tigers attempted the play five times, resulting in just 16 yards.
The Tigers didn't show the play for the first time until just 2:59 remained in the first half, when Tyler Grisham converted a first down with a six-yard reception. On the same drive, Aaron Kelly took a bubble screen eight yards for another first down. No damage resulted, however, as Alabama cornerback Marquis Johnson intercepted a pass that had been deflected by Rolando McClain to end the drive.
"The game plan was not to pressure much so that we could play all those screens and bubbles," Saban said. " ... When you blitz and they throw one of those things, and you're none on one and the guy you've got to cover it gets blocked, its tough to cover it."
Clemson went back to Grisham with a third-down bubble screen on its first drive of the third quarter, but this time Alabama stopped the play for only a three-yard gain to force a punt.
Ali Sharrief and Terrence Cody stopped back-to-back bubble screens to Kelly in the fourth quarter, Sharrief for a loss of three yards and Cody for a gain of only two. That drive ended on downs.
"We prepared a lot for it," Saban said. "... We actually were better off when we were in nickel and dime - when we were in regular we had a tougher time matching up with them."
Kelly, the top returning receiver in the Atlantic Coast Conference, finished the game with just 28 yards receiving.
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