Tigers hoping 'horror flick' holds the key to reclaiming bragging rights

This week, the visual evidence of Clemson's 2012 nightmare is required viewing in the WestZone football complex

South Carolina's Dylan Thompson carries the ball against Clemson.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

South Carolina's Dylan Thompson carries the ball against Clemson.

There are dozens of tapes and cut-ups in Clemson's football film library with information pertaining to the formidable task the fourth-ranked Tigers face this weekend.

There is one, in particular, that might best be classified as a horror flick.

On a dark and ultimately dreary November night, just about a year ago, the Tigers botched their script and, in the process, sentenced themselves and their fans to a fresh 365 days of torment.

This week, the visual evidence of Clemson's 2012 nightmare is required viewing in the WestZone football complex.

No fear of Clowney this week for Boyd


Perhaps, if the Tigers play their cards right, the film simply labeled 'USC 2012' may hold the key to unlocking a more pleasant year ahead.

In putting together a plan to win against South Carolina on Saturday, the Tigers have no better tool than the tape of last year's game.

First of all, Dabo Swinney wants his team to understand not only what happened, but why.

"The bottom line is that they were better than us in that game," Swinney said. "There were key plays that we didn't make, and there were plays that they made. It was a tight ball game - 17-20 in a game that we hadn't played well in. We lost the turnover margin, we had some uncharacteristic mistakes, some big drops that cost us.

"Even with all that, it's 17-20 with six minutes to go, and it's third-and-19. We busted an assignment, their guy ran for 20 yards, and that was pretty much the ball game."

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said South Carolina's success last season started with defensive pressure.

"Any time you can get pressure with four, then you've got more guys in coverage," Boyd said. "In watching last year's game, I know I missed some throws. But there were a lot of areas where we didn't do the things that we're accustomed to doing.

"In watching the game again, there are things you see and you ask yourself 'why did I do that in that situation?' I wasn't always playing within the system. You don't have to be perfect by any means, but you do have to go out and play and compete."

Swinney said that as they've watched the film, the Tigers have also seen the Gamecocks consistently executing at a higher level in the very areas he considers essential to winning and losing.

"They did the things that made the difference in the game," he said. "They made the key plays, they won the turnover margin, they had fewer critical penalties, they got off the field on third down, and we couldn't get off the field on third down, and so they kept the ball. They earned it."

As they work through their week of preparation, Swinney says the Tigers' focus is not centered on the magnitude of the game to coaches, players and fans, but rather on "executing with technique" and "having the best finish possible."

"Obviously, this game is a huge factor in that," Swinney said. "We've had a great year, I'm proud of our team and the way they've competed and responded all year. To be 10-1 at this point is almost perfect - a little short, but almost perfect.

"Now we want to finish. We want to have the best possible post-season that we can have. This is a game we all want to win. But wanting to win doesn't get it done.

"To win, you've got to do the things that it takes to win. You've got to play great football. You've got to make critical plays, and we've got to win the turnover margin, which has been a real thorn in our side in this particular game the past few years.

"We've gotten beat four years in a row, and nobody wants it to go to five. We need to win the dang game. That's the bottom line.

"Everybody wants to win. But to win, we have to play physical, play smart, we've got to run the ball and stop the run, we've got to play sound in special teams. We have to go play our best game. That's what our focus is."

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Comments » 4

TigerNE writes:

To me the SCar game last season and the FSU game this season were similar. The team, on both sides of the ball, seemed to play in a panic from almost the very beginning.

I expect Boyd and Sammy at the very least will be able to recover from mistakes, if made, and not go into that irreversible panic mode again. Hopefully our D just plays with the same precision and "violence" (Venables' word) they have been for a while this season.

DahlonegaJoe writes:

I think you can look at LSU game, FSU, SC game last year and FSU game this year. They are going to hit you in the mouth and challenge you. Bad stuff is going to happen. and likely happen early…..You have to keep pushing back, don't back down. The LSU game last year, we did not crumble. Last year SC, FSU and FSU this year we panicked. Get ready for bad stuff to happen against a physical team. Take the punch, get back up and do what you do best…the skill and toughness is there, but you cannot back down. Go toe to toe and we can win.

ericshippam writes:

While I am still perplexed with the FSU game this year, everything before and after has been impressive.
It seems clear that this edition of Tiger Football is the best since '81, maybe better. That tough loss to FSU was as good a lesson as we could have to be prepared for SC.
Tajh and Sammy want to go out with a win as all the Tigers do, but they have more at stake than any. And, I beleieve they will prevail, by getting in the "zone" and using Bryant and consistly running the ball too.
It seems to me the defense is confident, ready, fearless and I expect a big day from them.
Go Tigers!
It is a long shot, but well within range is this scenario: Should we prevail against South Carolina, convincingly. Mizzou loses to HTW candidate, Manziel his Aggies,(he is not going to quit). Bama goes down with Auburn rising and so apparently lucky, and the Spartans take down OSU, very doable. Then what?
Then...what a Christmas in the South Carolina and Tiger Nation!

tigerrob44 writes:

I agree with you about the comparison with the ’81 team. I believe this year’s team is better than the ’81 team. They had a better defense possibly but this team’s offense is a real good. I think watching film of prior games is a good thing. I have said that for many years. They should have watched film of the ’81 Georgia game when we beat them 13 to 3. I was at that game and I remember hearing the sound when Jeff Davis tackled Hershel Walker in the backfield deep in Clemson territory on a third down play. Don’t remember what happened on the next play, sorry. Getting old a sort of goofy. I thought they should have watched the film of our ’89 game down in Tallahassee when we trounced FSU. I was at that game, also, and remember the “bleachers” FSU had in the end zone most of the Clemson folks were sitting in were worse than a high school. That’s the truth. It’s hard to believe the bleachers they had. It was just like a high school stadium. I’m not kidding about that. Watching game film from prior games should fire them up if nothing else. We have a top of the line offense and a defense that is also top of the line. We have better players than SC and we have a better team. Barring turnovers or critical penalties we should win. We will not let them make any 3rd and 19 plays this year. We have a real good front 7 and all we need to do is do not let Shaw beat us running. That is paramount to winning.

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