NEW ORLEANS – If you believe that there should have been a penalty flag on Clemson’s game-winning touchdown against Alabama in last year’s College Football Playoff national championship game, Hunter Renfrow agrees with you.
But here’s the rub: Clemson’s wide receiver, who caught that touchdown pass with one second remaining on the clock, believes the flag should have been on Alabama.
Clemson defeated Alabama 35-31 in Tampa, and the outcome was decided by a controversial pass play that could have resulted in a penalty against the Tigers for using a pick – having another receiver shield Renfrow from his defender.
Instead, Renfrow thinks Alabama could have been flagged.
“It was defensive pass interference in my opinion,” Renfrow said Friday at a pre-Sugar Bowl news conference.
The play unfolded like this: Tony Brown was lined up to cover Renfrow and Marlon Humphrey was defending Artavis Scott, who was lined up on the right side next to Renfrow. On the snap, Renfrow and Scott crossed each other, with Renfrow lining up in the slot and running outside while Scott slanted toward the middle. In the mix, Brown was unable to get to Renfrow, who caught the pass in the end zone.
“I think it was a perfectly legal play,” Renfrow said. “Tony Brown was kind of going over the top. Marlon Humphrey … tackled Artavis. It should have been a defensive (pass interference on Humphrey) in my opinion, but it worked out well and we won the game.
“That’s all I know.”
Such plays are known as “rub routes” – with one receiver trying to “rub” the other’s defender off course – or “pick plays.” It’s similar to a basketball tactic where one player is essentially used as an obstacle.
Clemson used a similar play to score another fourth-quarter touchdown against Alabama. Officials threw no flag on either play.
Alabama would be well-served to work on defending the pick or rub plays for Monday’s rematch. How much time the UA secondary is spending on such strategy is top secret.
“I can’t disclose that information,” Alabama defensive back Levi Wallace said.