Give credit where it's due: the Ol' Ball Coach can deliver a zinger with surgical, venomous precision.
"It seems like when we play Clemson, they don't play very well," Steve Spurrier began his post-game press conference Saturday night, describing his Gamecocks as 'fortunate.'
Dalton Freeman had another take: "It's not them - it's us."
Well, yes and no.
Why did Clemson lose?
- Six sacks, which proved to be just the tip of the iceberg to South Carolina's relentless game-long pressure.
- Too much time for South Carolina's backup quarterback, Dylan Thompson, to operate. He rarely had less than he needed.
- Not enough Nuk. Just one catch - though a big one - wasn't enough to keep the Clemson offense running.
- Or Sammy Watkins. He had four catches, but nothing deep or dangerous.
- Sloppy tackling. The Gamecocks racked up plenty of yards-after-contact.
- Soft coverage. To avoid busts, the Tigers gave the Gamecock receivers a cushy pad, and South Carolina took what was there for the picking.
- Too few plays. Fifty nine snaps is insufficient for Chad Morris to work his offensive magic.
- Third down. The Gamecocks converted 11 of 21, and kept the football out of Clemson's hands. The Tigers were 5-of-12.
- Dropped interceptions. Enough to have changed the game in Clemson's favor.
But when all was said and done, South Carolina hit the road back to the mid-state with its first four-game series winning streak in a long generation, because, as Spurrier inferred, the Tigers were knocked off their game by the Gamecocks.
Forced, if you will, into not playing very well.
South Carolina's defensive front was so good that it simply overwhelmed a competent Clemson offensive line that has improved steadily over the course of the season.
It didn't look so much like an off-night by the Tigers as it did a dominant performance by the Gamecocks.
Tajh Boyd faced constant pressure, was taken to the ground six times behind the line of scrimmage, and threw a pair of pressure-induced interceptions that helped frame South Carolina's victory.
On the flip side of the coin, Clemson's defensive front didn't play badly - it just wasn't good enough to get pressure without help from the blitz. And when the Tigers blitzed, the Gamecock offense was good enough to find, and exploit, vacated areas.
It's tough for a rhythm-based offense to find its groove while sitting on the sideline.
There is every indication that Dabo Swinney is building things the right way with his Clemson program. The Tigers are for real. But four bitter losses in a row to the Gamecocks shows that Spurrier has a head start toward the same destination.
There's a troubling bigger picture, as well.
Clemson's loss was the final crash in a Saturday train wreck for the ACC against the SEC. Both Clemson and Florida State had their instate rivals over to their house for Thanksgiving weekend get-togethers; but to no avail.
The gap between the two conferences is real, top to bottom. And that's not going to change until the ACC's best teams - which looks to be Clemson and Florida State for a long while - start consistently taking care of their end-of-season business.
Talk and speculation about the Tigers and Seminoles needing to find a more suitable football home will undoubtedly fill the gap between now and the post-season bowls. Two ACC programs are on probation with another likely to follow; and on Sunday, the axe fell on two of the league's head coaches.
The ACC's turmoil is real. No one expected Maryland to bolt for the Big Ten, and the noises coming from Notre Dame last week weren't exactly reassuring for those hoping the Irish will stabilize the situation. No one can say what comes next.
Swinney and his staff will move on, roll up their sleeves, and get back to work on the football front. The Clemson program is still, we learned Saturday night, a work in progress.
And as the landscape shifts beneath their feet, Clemson's new athletic leadership will be put to a test every bit as formidable as Swinney faces in overtaking and reasserting Clemson's historical dominance over the Gamecocks.