Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Rock Hill, SC
Acock's Wrap Up: Clemson
What a game. If you can turn off the fan-centric view for a moment and look at it as just a football game it was one hell of a game, a game that deserves to sit among the greatest USC/Clemson battles of all time. After jumping out to a lead they come back and tie us, they take our momentum and everyone in the stadium could feel the game slipping away from us. Clemson fans were happy, we were disgruntled, and then we got the ball back and answered, holding onto the ball for 6:46 seconds, scoring the go ahead touchdown and sapping the life out of Clemson. It was glorious.
Before I get too deep into this though, I want to say something...
Clemson is bush-league. Their whole team, their whole organization. At Clemson they flash strobe colors when the opposing team has the ball. At Williams-Brice their band played almost before EVERY ONE of our snaps, often just a loud fanfare that wasn't really a song as much as it was just noise. It was obvious that they were trying to disrupt our play calling, and although I'm not sure of the rules, I'm certain they pushed them right to the limit.
I'm not whining, I'm pointing out how small, petty, and bush-league they are. It extends to their fanbase as well, and if any of you have Clemson fans as friends on Facebook, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
You've sunk low Clemson. Low.
Before I get into grading the team, I have to admit I forgot to tape the game. I usually rewatch the game and grade out, but today I have to go from memory.
Connor Freakin' Shaw. He wasn't the sharpest I have ever seen, he constantly didn't see Busta running wide open over the middle on almost EVERY play, but he did make a few huge throws, and once again put the game on his shoulders and won it with his feet. Best Gamecock QB ever? Hell yes.
It's obvious Mike Davis is more hurt than he let on, and it's also obvious that he's a warrior. We could never get much going on the ground, but kudos to the coaching staff for sticking with it. Wilds looked great in the limited time he got, and sealed it for us with a catch that was harder than it looked. We are in such good shape here for the next few years.
I hate that we didn't get our TEs involved at all, because the were running free most of the night. Spurrier even chucked his clipboard once when Shaw took off and ran and threw an incompletion rather than hitting a streaking, wide-open Busta in the seam. As it was, FANTASTIC evening by the wideouts. Bruce and Shaq simply dominated Clemson's secondary, challenging them for balls and winning almost every battle. Shaq is coming into his own, and if he can get whatever personal issues he has tamed he'll be one of our all-time greats.
Perhaps the most surprising thing to me all night was the way we played in the trenches. Clemson's defensive front was MUCH better than I gave them credit for, but by the end of this game we should have been exerting our will on a smaller, and less deep Clemson defensive line. As it was we failed to generate running lanes and didn't pass protect as well as we should have. Nice job picking up the blitzes overall, but our interior line just got whipped most of the night.
Good job overall, you could kind of tell that the line was told to stay in their lanes and get as much push as they could. We did not overpursue up the field, which held Clemson's screen game in check. As the sacks started to pile up around Tahj, he got out of his rhythm and succumbed to happy feet. Tiger fans, it isn't trash talk if it's true, and Tahj played scared in the 4th. Almost gave them a C because of the way the Clemson offensive line was able to turn guys and create lanes, Clemson had WAY more success on the ground than they should have.
Which leads me to our LB corps. Overall they executed well, but they allowed the Clemson RB's to reach the secondary all too often, and failed to contain Boyd on a couple of critical runs. Did a very good job in pass coverage though, once again our LB corps picked off Boyd. Another year, another Holloman interception (just a different Holloman...)
Wow. For Legree and Hampton's final home game they worked up a masterpiece. Yes, Watkins got free for one long pass, but if you take that away he was 6 catches for 36 yards. Given the fact that we held Clemson to well over 100 yards below their average, I'd say these guys did their job.
No major mistakes, a long kickoff return, and Hull put one inside the 20. Not bad.
Dabo is eventually going to rue the day he opened his big mouth, as soon as he's able to figure out what's happening to him, of course. His rant fixed Spurrier's attention to him like the Eye of Sauron, and it's obvious the way that Spurrier game-plans this game. Kudos to Spurrier for sticking with the run, even when it wasn't working. I'm not a huge fan of the Wildcat, but it obviously gave us a change of pace and a spark that Clemson had problems dealing with.
Also, it was awesome of Spurrier to let Lou Holtz coach a drive or two. There's no way he'd call that many QB draws in a row...
A big hats off to Whammy, who took a defense that had some young and inexperienced players and molded them into a top 10 defense. Those guys played lights out and shut down the vaunted Clemson offense.
14. That's how many points they averaged against us the past 5 years.
I have to admit, I didn't expect Clemson to be that physical. We got their best shot, they didn't fold in the 3rd and they really held their own in the trenches, something I didn't think they could do. They honestly surprised me with the physical level of their play. That being said they got out-coached, and eventually whipped by a team that just expects to beat them. You can tell it by the way our team carries themselves and it's starting to take root in our fans as well. All week people would ask me about the game and I would reply with the same answer; I was quietly confident. In the past it didn't matter how good our team was, we just always found a way to lose to Clemson. Not anymore.
The atmosphere for the game was fantastic, very loud and pumped up the entire time. There's a reason we've won 18 straight at WB, and the fans have a lot to do with it. Well done guys, well done.
One final thought about Clemson before we move onto more important things. In 1954, our series record with Clemson was 20-29-3. Nothing to write home about, but not dreadful. In 1970 it stood at 29-41-3. Obviously we began to decline in the series, but nothing like what happened next. From 1971 to our current streak we went 9-27 against Clemson. This was the time period that I grew up, probably becoming a serious Gamecock fan around 1978 or so when I was 8 years old. I've had to endure losing streaks, dealing with their entitled, ignorant fanbase, and seeing them win a bought national title that would be stripped from them in our modern enforcement climate.
All of that was enough to create a defeatist attitude around the Clemson game and beating them. I got to the point that I just no longer cared about the game.
I expected to lose.
Then Spurrier arrived. At first it looked like nothing would change, as he went 1-3 in his first four games. As he built his program, however little by little you could see things changing. By the time we won in 2009 to start the streak it was obvious we were not only the better team, but perhaps more importantly the better program.
That leads me to my final point on Clemson. It's taking some time for both fan bases to realize it, in fact I don't think that it has totally set in in either camp, but the truth is that our program has passed Clemson in almost every area. More importantly it's not likely to change for the foreseeable future. I'm not saying that Clemson will never beat us again, they certainly will and the team they fielded on Saturday was good enough to beat us. However, they'll never dominate us like they have in the past, and the chances are much better that we'll dominate them in like fashion.
You see, the SEC money is about to start rolling in for real. Once the SEC Network gets going there's going to be about a 10 million dollar per year difference between us and Clemson on just the basic revenue model. That is going to be compounded over the years, and if Ray Tanner is half the AD I think he's going to be, in 20 years the two programs will not even be close in terms of facilities and amenities. As long as we make the right hire when we eventually have to replace Spurrier, we'll own them for the foreseeable future.
Now, on to other matters. No, we didn't win the SEC East. From that standpoint our season was not as successful as our goals. However, we finished 10-2 and ranked in the top 10 AGAIN. These are the good old days, so rather than complain about losing to Tennessee and not making Atlanta, or having to go to the Outback bowl...enjoy it.
I've been through the years where you looked at the schedule trying to figure out how we would get 6 wins and go to a bowl...ANY bowl. The Orange Crush which used to ruin our November is a distant memory, we're 11-4 in those games over the last 5 years.
Always remember... stay Feisty.