South Carolina takes down Clemson 27-17

Gamecocks control tempo, beat Clemson for fourth straight time

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd fights off a sack by South Carolina's Byron Jerideau in the first quarter on Saturday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd fights off a sack by South Carolina's Byron Jerideau in the first quarter on Saturday.

Offense Breakdown: USC puts brakes on Tiger 'O'

— They controlled the tempo. They controlled the lines of scrimmage, and once again, they control the Palmetto State.

No.13 South Carolina harassed Tajh Boyd and shut down No.12 Clemson’s prolific offense, taking a 27-17 win before 82,000 Saturday night inside Memorial Stadium.

It was the Gamecocks’ fourth consecutive win in the rivalry, their longest streak since 1951-54. South Carolina finished the regular season at 10-2; the Tigers dropped to 10-2 and saw their 13-game home win streak – the longest in program history – come to an end.

“We were very fortunate again,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “It seems like when we play Clemson they don’t play very well and we played well enough, I guess, a few more plays than they did.”

Clemson saw its hopes of a second consecutive BCS bowl come to an end, and will find out their bowl destination next week – likely in Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

“To lose to South Carolina four times in a row is incredibly disappointing,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “That’s a hurting group of seniors in there, and that’s something everyone’s got to live with. We had to take advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves and that’s something we didn’t do tonight.”

The Tigers ran just 59 plays, a season-low. South Carolina ran 86 and held the ball for over 39 minutes; Clemson had possession for just 20.

“They made some big plays and we made some costly penalties,” Swinney said. “That was the difference in the game. 86 snaps to 59 was not a good recipe for us.”

Swinney said the locker room was “hurting” afterward.

“We’ve done a lot of positive things but in sports as well as life, it’s what have you done for me lately,” said senior center Dalton Freeman. “This is going to put a damper on my career and everyone else’s career. That’s one of those things everyone has to put behind them as use as motivation for the years to come. “

Clemson is off this week and is expected to start bowl practice Dec. 8, but losing the BCS dream stung.

“This was a big game for us,” Freeman said. “Our goal was the BCS and a lot of other things out there. But we do have the opportunity to finish this season strong with a bowl win. We’ve got to keep working and make sure nobody gets discouraged.”

South Carolina backup quarterback Dylan Thompson, playing as starter Connor Shaw sat with a foot injury, had 310 yards passing and three touchdowns but also hurt the Tigers with his legs, gaining 38 yards rushing.

“I knew I had my team behind me and it just helped me not be nervous,” Thompson said. “Everyone was so encouraging and it helps when you have your whole team behind you.”

Meanwhile, Boyd struggled to find a rhythm, completing only 11 of 24 passes for 183 yards (his second-lowest total of the season), a touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked six times.

Star wideouts Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins combined for just 71 yards on four catches.

South Carolina’s final drive was the killer. A Thompson touchdown run was called back due to holding, but on third and 19, he scrambled for 20 to the Clemson 6.

On third and goal, he found Bruce Ellington open in the back of the end zone for a six-yard score, giving South Carolina a 27-17 lead with 4:17 to play.

The drive covered 13 plays and 65 yards, and took 7:39 off the clock. Game over.

“That was the difference in the game down the stretch,” Swinney said.

Following a rare three-and-out, Clemson found offensive rhythm on its second drive of the game.

Boyd converted a trio of short-yardage third downs – at his own 34, at South Carolina’s 43 and on third and goal from the 2, walking in untouched beside a crushing David Beasley block for a 7-0 lead.

South Carolina hit right back behind Thompson.

Taking advantage of soft coverage by Clemson’s secondary, the Gamecocks quickly moved down the field. Justice Cunningham gained 19 on a third-and-6 over the middle, and Bruce Ellington got behind Garry Peters for a 13-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7 with 1:46 left in the first.

It didn’t take Clemson long to respond. On first and 10 from the 25, tailback Rod McDowell burst up the left sideline for a 32-yard gain.

One play later, Boyd went deep for Hopkins, who beat a pair of defenders, hauling in a pass for a 43-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone.

Two plays, 75 yards, 34 seconds, and Clemson led again, 14-7.

South Carolina found the key to stopping the Tigers’ offense – keep it off the field.

The Gamecocks ground out a 12-play, 79-yard drive that covered 6:41. Freshman safety Travis Blanks made a pass breakup in the end zone, and South Carolina settled for a 27-yard Adam Yates field goal that cut the lead to 14-10.

Clemson outgained South Carolina 237-188 in the half, but didn’t score in the second quarter, the first time that has happened all season.

Dabo on loss to USC

Gamecocks' pressure, stifle Tiger 'O'

South Carolina took the lead with an impressive 11-play, 85-yard drive to start the third quarter.

Wideout Nick Jones found his way between two defenders for a 31-yard gain to the Clemson 39.

And even a holding call that gave the Gamecocks a second and 20 at the Clemson 40 didn’t seem to faze Thompson, who found Ace Sanders underneath inside the CU 10.

He wriggled free of safety Rashard Hall and raced into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown, giving South Carolina its first lead of the night at 17-14.

“They went out there and were able to keep the ball forever,” Swinney said.

Following another Clemson three-and-out, the Gamecocks moved right back down the field, facing a third-and-1 at the Clemson 16.

A hold negated a Kenny Miles first-down run, and USC settled for Yates’ 43-yard field goal, stretching the lead to 20-14.

A dormant Tiger offense gave the crowd of 82,000 a major jolt with Jaron Brown’s diving 38-yard catch to the USC 38. Andre Ellington churned for 13, but the drive stalled there, and Chandler Catanzaro booted a 37-yard field goal, cutting the margin back to 20-17.

The lead should have grown early in the fourth quarter, thanks to a pair of pass-interference calls on Clemson’s secondary.

Steve Spurrier chose to go for it on fourth and 11 from the Clemson 40, and was rewarded when Hall was whistled for interference, extending the drive.

Moments later, the Gamecocks faced a third and 9 at the Clemson 24. This time, Brewer was flagged, and Clemson students threw objects on the field in protest, drawing a warning from the public address announcer.

Brewer got the last laugh. On second down, he trucked Thompson on a corner blitz for an eight-yard loss.

On the next down, Thompson threw into the end zone for Jones, and Brewer made a drive-killing interception.

With Clemson facing a third and 7 at the USC 47, the Gamecocks brought pressure up the middle. Sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney - who had a Memorial Stadium-record 4.5 sacks - broke right into Boyd’s field of vision, and he threw his second interception of the night, this one right to safety Brison Williams.

The gap he took? Occupied by freshman center Ryan Norton, who was replacing senior Dalton Freeman, on the sideline with an ice pack on his groin.

Spurrier: Clemson didn't play very well

None

“19 plays in the second half makes it that much more crucial to take advantage of our opportunities we do have,” Boyd said.

Following the game-opening 16-play drive, Clemson ran just 43 more plays for the final 50 minutes, one week after running 102 plays against N.C. State.

“We just beat ourselves tonight,” Freeman said. “We weren’t able to move the ball. We had a 16-play drive we scored on early, thought we were in a rhythm, everything was clicking. As the game was going on we were getting too many three-and-outs and weren’t getting in a rhythm.”

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Comments » 21

Tiger79 writes:

We were outplayed and more importantly OUTCOACHED a pathetic exalmpe of both offense and defensive coaching. To think we have the highest paid cordinatators in the NCAA. Team did not seem motivated and as usuasal came out flatter the second half.
.....

waran writes:

Tiger79, I agree. But you forgot that we have had better recruiting classes.

One of the best SEC teams, Florida, beat the ACC Champion. A second rate SEC Team, USC, manhandles the 2nd best ACC Team, Clemson. And Dabo rants about BCS standings and Tajh being ignored.

Next year, there should be a ban on Dabo talking to the media. They should focus on coaching and winning.

cuGIZ82 writes:

Well we got outplayed and out coached again. Being a CU grad and having a brother who is a SC grad is tough, especially when he gets to rub a loss in my face. I have faith the coaches will get better but right now they are out of their league vs Spurrier.

brookesdad729 writes:

We got beat by a 2nd string QB who converts a 3rd and 19 and he isn't even considered that much of a scrambler...that floored me along with the refs bad calling! We didn't stand a chance! Wow! I can't believe this!

michtiger writes:

We get on a high beating up on the weak conference foes and the two cup cakes and fold against the good teams. Until we dump this very poor conference so we improve playing tougher opponents this is our fate. Allowing a team multiple 3rd and double digit conversions was embarrasing and the calls by BV to throw the whole team at the line instead of allowing the underneath for a stop is crazy especially when you keep doing it. We lost to a 2nd string QB,. 2nd string RB ( and at times the 3rd ) and a middle of pack SEC foe.. Pray like heck we do not see TA&M or Ga in atlanta!

CUNo1Fan writes:

If this - the 4th in a row - didn't prove it nothing will. I love my Tigers but it will continue to be this way until we get back to the basics.

The basics being a clock dominating power run based O that can keep the D off the field. I love being able to pass the ball and yes we need to have that balance as well but it needs to be based on a power run. We have to be able to line up and beat a stout D man against man and that starts with the O line. If a D can harass the QB with simply thier D line then the pass will never be sucessful.

More importantly, the second basic we need to get back to is D wins the big games and championships. We don;t have a D that can do that right now.

The most sucessfull Clemson has ever been was when we had dominating Ds (similar to the one we have faced for the last 4 years from SCar) that controlled the line of scrimmage, consistently harassed the opposing QB and didn't give him time to pick them apart, LBs that stuffed the run behind the front 4, and a solid secondary that consistently provided coverage that gave the line the time to harass the QB.

I've had enough of the high flying O that gets shut down by solid stingy Ds and a D that can't stop a decent O (not a great 0) from putting up well over 400 yards per game on us and more points than our high flying O can manage.

Get back to the basics, start having live hitting practices, bring in the D and O line players needed, and make people fear having to get on the field with the Tigers again. No one does that now as they know if they have good solid D to great D, they can shut us down and we can't stop them from scoring on us.

richardcd writes:

We just got beaten by a better team. Their offensive line kept our offense off the field, and when our offense did get on the field, their defense kept us from doing anything. I guess we have to adopt USC's old mantra, "Wait 'til next year."

This and the Florida-Florida State game really showed the superiority of the SEC over the ACC. We should have gotten out when we had the chance.

TigerNE writes:

I see this as a deja vu situation with Boyd. Whether he needs more from Morris or is just not mature enough to deal with the pressure, his response under pressure in two years has been predictable. I agree with some commenting here that Swinney has been given the coaches he asked for. He has gotten a good deal of the talent he's chased. So? What's the problem?

I keep hearing about how the ACC is the problem from others, too. It's hard to argue that given how FSU and Clemson played. It won't get any better with this shift going on either. But if Clemson won't be invited to the SEC, and others flee (especially FSU), then what is left? Playing in a Big conference - like Ten or 12 - with a lot of games in the farm and rust belts?

cuGIZ82 writes:

This season has shown us that we are in need of pass rushers or a better pass rush scheme. We are able to get a lead on the opponent only to allow them to march down the field using passes. We rarely get a D-line push towards the opposing QB. D-line & secondary go hand in hand. A QB who has time to survey the field will usually find an open WR.

I like the high powered O that is able to get a lead but until our D-line can play behind the line of scrimmage and protect the lead we will continue to struggle vs a "good team". You have to get a push vs the O-line.

tigerrick writes:

For 5 frigging years I have watched every game that the Tigers have played. Until the Clemson defense learns how to stop an opposing quarterback from running all over the field, they will never win a big game. Most times, the quarterback has time to make a sandwich. Carolina learned from watching the NC State game that they could dink and dunk with 8 to 10 yard passes all night; which they did. What's the deal playing off the receivers 10 yards or more?? No adjustments at halftime to correct that just amazes me about a defensive coordinator making that kind of money. If we as fans can see that, why can't he? Much more of this and I'll be "burning orange" and pull for Geargia. At least they make 2nd half adjustments. And by the way, where were all the "plays that the Gamecocks haven't seen this year" as quoted by Chad Morris?

waran writes:

I am sorry to say, some of us, the FANs, are also to blame. When Clemson beats Duke, UNC and Wake, we forget that we are playing in ACC and there is another world out there. We cheer our coaches and believe our players are the best and openly say so in these comments. We criticize Greg Wallace for writing candid comments. We help create the illusion for our Team and the rest of the fans... That Clemson is under rated, everyone is against us and we are the best. I think we need to get our heads out of the sand, remember what happened this year and keep pushing the Tigers to get better till the end. The FANs have a role.

TRUTH4U2 writes:

Good game tiglets! Not here to trash talk as I feel there is no need for it. Have a good bowl game and look forward to having you in Columbia next year!

teeman89 writes:

The bottomline CU coaching staff need have a big game mentality. There are no excuses to lose to the Gamecocks last night while they played their backup QB and RB. This unaccepted to paid a $1.3 million O-Cordinator and $800,000 D-Cordinator when they can not figure out to win a big game. How much is the Gamecock D-Cordinator makes? He for sure figured out the Tigers vaunted offense and stopped it. These Clemson coached calmity games need to stop immediately or else CU football will be considered the laughingstock of college football.

zilforreal writes:

in response to waran:

Tiger79, I agree. But you forgot that we have had better recruiting classes.

One of the best SEC teams, Florida, beat the ACC Champion. A second rate SEC Team, USC, manhandles the 2nd best ACC Team, Clemson. And Dabo rants about BCS standings and Tajh being ignored.

Next year, there should be a ban on Dabo talking to the media. They should focus on coaching and winning.

SC has a quality team. Just ask GA. Spurrier is a great coach and really has Dabo's number.I figured we would have to score 35 to win. Our great skill players were a no show. That is why we lost.

zilforreal writes:

Dabo is too busy looking for his next marketing opportunity to coach. BV was on his way out at OK, just like Steele at AL. Hopeully I am wrong about him, but Dabo is predictable. He can win 9 or 10 in the ACC but the smoke and mirrors O wont cut it in the SEC. Just like when Oregon played AU, great defense and a run oriented O will prevail over the fast paced stuff.

waran writes:

Agreed, USC had a quality team and is better than Clemson. My gripe is with Dabo and our coaching staff who keep making a fool of themselves (and by association the entire University community) with their statements regarding BCS rankings, real USC being in California and how we played well in the first half.

Our Coaching staff should accept and say "The better coached team won yesterday. Congratulations" and then move on the Bowl game so that we dont have another massacre like last year.

columbiabill writes:

Not sure where to go with this one-positive or negative? I had to watch the replay before making up my mind. Here's Bill's conclusions:
1. Almost from the beginning, with the exception of 1 drive, we did not play our typical fast paced game. Too many snaps with 10 seconds left on the play clock. Not what it takes in this offense to be successful.
2. My feeling during the game was that the crowd was not really into it. Watching the reply, the many crowd shots confirmed my thinking. Especially at the start of the 3rd quarter, when SC took control. Thousands of fans leaving the stadium at half time and either staying away until late third quarter or not returning at all. So I put a little of this on the fan's shoulders. Not enough to watch the tigers run down the hill and then back to the tailgate with heaters and TV's to watch the game.
3. Pregame, I felt the team was just going through the actions. Cannot put my finger on it, but something wasn't right.
4. Boyd has shown the same tendency both last year and this - fading near the end of the season. Yea, I know he had 8TD's against NC state but still not as sharp as early on.
5. SC had a great game plan. Shorten the game and keep the CU offense off the field. 95% of their plays were snapped with less than 5 seconds left on the play clock.
6. How many times was Miles or Ellington standing wide open in the flat? Overall I thought our Defensive front 4 played a pretty good game holding their own, but pass coverage no improvement from the beginning of the season. My opinion is this is where we lost the game, SC able to keep drives alive on the flat passes.
7. A couple of questionable pass interference but this was not the difference in the game.

Positive or negative? Overall, a little of both. SC was better prepared. Clowny had a great game. SC is a good football team. Spurier had a great comment: "CU doesn't seem to play very well when they play us". I think our defense played about as well as it could. Offense a different story, Where were our playmakers? A lot of talk here this morning about ACC and SEC. My concern is recruiting? Where will the kids want to play? We can forget Clemson leaving the ACC-guys it just isn't going to happen. What will happen if CU goes 12-0? Will we still be stuck in the middle of the top 10 because of strength of schedule?

Enough for this year. 10-2 is not bad but so much more was possible. Next year? Who knows.

zilforreal writes:

in response to columbiabill:

Not sure where to go with this one-positive or negative? I had to watch the replay before making up my mind. Here's Bill's conclusions:
1. Almost from the beginning, with the exception of 1 drive, we did not play our typical fast paced game. Too many snaps with 10 seconds left on the play clock. Not what it takes in this offense to be successful.
2. My feeling during the game was that the crowd was not really into it. Watching the reply, the many crowd shots confirmed my thinking. Especially at the start of the 3rd quarter, when SC took control. Thousands of fans leaving the stadium at half time and either staying away until late third quarter or not returning at all. So I put a little of this on the fan's shoulders. Not enough to watch the tigers run down the hill and then back to the tailgate with heaters and TV's to watch the game.
3. Pregame, I felt the team was just going through the actions. Cannot put my finger on it, but something wasn't right.
4. Boyd has shown the same tendency both last year and this - fading near the end of the season. Yea, I know he had 8TD's against NC state but still not as sharp as early on.
5. SC had a great game plan. Shorten the game and keep the CU offense off the field. 95% of their plays were snapped with less than 5 seconds left on the play clock.
6. How many times was Miles or Ellington standing wide open in the flat? Overall I thought our Defensive front 4 played a pretty good game holding their own, but pass coverage no improvement from the beginning of the season. My opinion is this is where we lost the game, SC able to keep drives alive on the flat passes.
7. A couple of questionable pass interference but this was not the difference in the game.

Positive or negative? Overall, a little of both. SC was better prepared. Clowny had a great game. SC is a good football team. Spurier had a great comment: "CU doesn't seem to play very well when they play us". I think our defense played about as well as it could. Offense a different story, Where were our playmakers? A lot of talk here this morning about ACC and SEC. My concern is recruiting? Where will the kids want to play? We can forget Clemson leaving the ACC-guys it just isn't going to happen. What will happen if CU goes 12-0? Will we still be stuck in the middle of the top 10 because of strength of schedule?

Enough for this year. 10-2 is not bad but so much more was possible. Next year? Who knows.

Where was # 2? Why isn't he returning punts and kick offs? He has to be a bigger part of the game plan. Is he being punished to the detriment of the team?

Lynx26 writes:

WE ARE NOT PHYSICAL at ALLLL!!!!!

*U cannot run deep routes and go 5-7 step drops when u cannot BLOCK up front. (Screens, draws, and crossing routes PLEASE)

* WhAt is our defensive identity?!?! sit back on our heels and let their offense dictate the game?? #CmonMan

* GET SAMMY INVOLVED-Wildcat or something. at least let him break a sweat. Too many vertical routes.

* South Carolina is physical team... and we cannot match their physicality at all. Whatever they wanted to do both offensively and defensively they did it with no problem!

* This game had me highly frustrated 17-3 after halftime! What adjustments were made?!

* We hit the weights for a reason... use your strength and grow a pair! No man should dominate you 90% of the snaps.

**** Our defense makes me sick at times... ZERO AGGRESSION!

----- STOP with the Pass Interference crap ----
Yes it they were terrible calls- but it showed we would've just punted the ball right back, why?

BECAUSE WE'RE SOFT! End of story!!

Texas A&M or LSU - GREAT smh. Two physical teams

DaboTheClown writes:

in response to waran:

Tiger79, I agree. But you forgot that we have had better recruiting classes.

One of the best SEC teams, Florida, beat the ACC Champion. A second rate SEC Team, USC, manhandles the 2nd best ACC Team, Clemson. And Dabo rants about BCS standings and Tajh being ignored.

Next year, there should be a ban on Dabo talking to the media. They should focus on coaching and winning.

Second rate, that's rich. I guess being a first rate ACC team makes you what, Vanderbilt's girlfriend in the SEC East?

Please don't stop Dabo from doing his clown act with the media, I love how he is either showing his arse or spreading misinformation about the ACC or his program. But you're right, maybe he shouldn't talk to media and spend that time writing rent checks to Spurrier because HE OWNS THIS STATE! USC second rate, I guess destroying the team representing the Eastern side of the conference and losing in the real Death Valley and the Swamp makes us second rate. I guess the equivalent to those for Clemson is @Duke and @UVa?! You can throw out the record books when you go to Wake Forest I suppose?

You're right, you are first rate...and you'd better stay in the ACC if you want to keep being the second best in your conference...

tigerdh writes:

I am not a coach and would not pretend to think I could call the plays but I can tell you without a doubt you will loose the game ever time when you don't run but 19 offensive plays in the second half.

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