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Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts


  by - Senior Writer - Monday, November 26, 2012 11:47 AM
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CLEMSON – The truth is hard to take sometimes.

The easy thing to say on the Monday morning after Clemson’s loss to South Carolina is that the Tigers were beaten – soundly – in all three phases of the game and that South Carolina is a superior program at this time and moment in the history of the rivalry.

Ouch. But it’s true.

The Gamecocks were the bullies, who came in and imposed their will at the line of scrimmage. They looked battle-tested (they played three quality opponents, Clemson just one) and didn’t blink when faced with an early deficit. They looked bigger and stronger.

Granted, there were several moments in Saturday’s game where the tide could have turned, where momentum could have been wrested away from the folks in white and garnet and Clemson fans would have a much different outlook on life.

But those game-defining plays never happened, in large part because one team had game-changing players on the defensive side of the ball and one team didn’t. You can guess which team won the game.

Yes, Clemson’s recruiting over the past three seasons has been stellar, but the lack of a dominant pass-rusher and injuries in the secondary took its toll. The good news is that the Tigers still have a shot at some talented players in this recruiting cycle, and there are several younger players that red-shirted this season that could make an impact. How soon that happens is anybody’s guess.

I get it, four losses to an arch-rival hurts, and that has many Clemson fans ready to jump off the cliff.

In many ways, who can blame them? Clemson’s last three forays into primetime matchups [excluding the win over Auburn, a program that has since imploded] have seen the Tigers lose 70-33 to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, lose 49-37 at Florida St. earlier this season and lose to South Carolina in wilting fashion this weekend. Any one of those wins could have defined a program, changed national perception or given hope that perhaps the Tigers are poised for a run at national prominence.

Earlier this season, it was generally agreed upon that 2013 could be a special season, but now there are doubts – and understandably so – that this team can take that next step with the current makeup of the roster with the addition of a few recruits.

However, all is not lost.

Exhibit A – South Carolina is a good program, definitely one of better programs in the country right now, and even though it stings to lose to a rival, the losses aren’t to a lesser team. The Gamecocks are pretty dang good. South Carolina has 20 seniors this season, 11 on defense, so they will be a bit younger next season. I think Clemson is still paying – in many ways – for the Dandy Dozen from Dabo’s first year. That class has produced a few good players – but the lack of veterans and a stellar defensive guy out of that class hurt.

Exhibit B – The Tigers are still trending upward. Recruiting is still going strong, offensive playmakers abound and it appears the culture surrounding Clemson’s offensive line is getting better, despite Saturday night’s shaky showing against Clowney and South Carolina.

Exhibit C – The Tigers still play in the ACC, and the competition won’t be much better next season, almost guaranteeing a certain number of wins, and a trip to the ACC Championship Game may hinge on a date with Florida St. at home.
However, playmakers on defense have to be found, and the offense has to find a way to come up big in big games against teams with defensive talent.

Now, back to Saturday’s game……

I got several text messages and emails after the game with people telling me that the loss lay at the feet of offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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and the offense, that the defense had done its part in “holding” South Carolina to 27 points.

I hated to be rude, but what were they smoking? Watching the Clemson defense Saturday night was almost – almost – as painful as watching the Florida St. game earlier this season. However, instead of dying quickly on drives, it was slow and methodical death. South Carolina kept the football for almost forty minutes of the game, converted third down after third down, and did it with a backup quarterback.

I have no fault with the gameplan - defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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did everything he could to get pressure on the quarterback and still leave some protection for a depleted secondary. He brought max blitzes, he brought pressure off the edge, and there were times he rushed three and dropped eight. None of it worked, even though Clemson got four sacks, because they kept finding ways to convert on third down. And when there was a conventional pass rush, defensive tackle Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
Wilmington, DE

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was the only player that showed a lot of fight.

On third downs of longer than five yards, South Carolina ran off plays of 19 yards, 19 yards, 19 yards, 34 yards, 24 yards and 20 yards. Zero push up front and a weak backend produce those kinds of plays. Slow death….

Now, the defense wasn’t solely to blame, and I have to wonder why Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris abandoned the run. Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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and Rod McDowell were running the ball effectively, and Jadeveon Clowney was trying so hard to get up the field on every play that the Tigers were able to run at him and by him on many occasions.

I remember an Ellington run about midway through the second quarter where he picked up 13 yards running to that side of the line, and at that point, the Tigers had run the ball 13 times for 92 yards and offensive linemen will tell you that they would rather run block than pass block.

However, at that point the run was almost totally abandoned as 18 of the next 25 play calls were passes, which played right into the hands of Clowney and the pass rush. And it isn’t like the game was out of reach or even more than six points apart at any point during that stretch. Great teams impose their will, and the running game looked like it was there. Of those seven run plays, Ellington had four carries and picked up 26 yards.

In fact, following that 13-yard run, the Tigers called for a pass on first down and Boyd was sacked. Two incompletions later, the Tigers punted with the ball near midfield. The Tigers also had the ball in South Carolina territory twice late in the first half with the chance to go up two scores, and failed to convert those drives into points. The game was there for the taking, and a conversion somewhere along the line could have made the difference, changed South Carolina’s play-calling and made it a different game.

And I really thought the Tigers would leave fullback Darrell SmithDarrell Smith
RS Jr. Fullback
#40 6-2, 250
Gadsden, AL

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in the game more to help Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#63 6-3, 305
Spartanburg, SC

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with Clowney over at left tackle, but that never really materialized either. And I’m not knocking Thomas in any way – there aren’t many players in the country that can block that cat.

But the yards and points were there, offensively. Receivers were open and dropped passes. The running lanes were there. The lack of execution is what is startling. Granted, having the ball for just 59 plays and just over 20 minutes hurt, and a lot of that can be blamed on a defense that couldn’t get off the field. But it goes both ways – an exhausted defense needed the offense to grind out some drives and let them rest, and it never happened, and the Tiger offense never got a chance to wear down South Carolina’s defense.

So, what do we have? A 10-2 football team that will get a good bowl game (more on that later), but a 10-2 team that doesn’t have a marquee win. There were two opportunities to get one, and both wound up being losses.

Where does the program stand? Like I said Saturday night, not quite ready for prime time. The lines of scrimmage have to get better, bigger and stronger. A dominant pass rusher has to be found somewhere along the way. And by the time the Tigers kick off the next time in Death Valley, they have to find two new starting safeties and a starting corner.

The gap between the two programs? I think one team faces better competition throughout the year, and after seeing both Florida St. and South Carolina defenses in person, I think South Carolina’s is better. It’s no coincidence that South Carolina has built one of the nation’s best defenses and has won four straight in this series. There’s the gap. Will that get better by next season? Or the year after, or are the Tigers looking at a five-game losing streak? Or six? Time, recruiting and player development will tell.

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  •  
    Venables, Clemson defense thriving in close games - 15 hours ago
    Clemson’s football team has played two thrilling games over the last couple of weeks, relying on the defense for a last-minute stop on both occasions in order to seal the victory. And while many fans may have been close to a panic attack or heart failure, defensive coordinator Brent Venables was having fun. He also thinks that winning these close games will give his team an advantage down the stretch. Full Story »
  •  
    Can Clemson offense withstand any more injuries? - 2 days ago
    It's hard to imagine that any team in the country has suffered more injuries and attrition than Clemson this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Listing all of the losses is mind-boggling, and has offensive coordinator Chad Morris shaking his head. Full Story »
  •  
    Morris says nothing easy for offense right now - 3 days ago
    Lately nothing comes easy to the Clemson offense and that was never more evident than Saturday night. Photo by Mark L. Baer / USATODAY Full Story »
  •  
    Venables says mistakes the difference between a good and a great performance - 3 days ago
    Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables liked what he saw out of his defense for much of Saturday's 17-13 win over Boston College, but he said enough mistakes were made to keep his group from getting overconfident. Photo by Mark L. Baer / USATODAY Full Story »
  •  
    Boulware's pestering of Venables turns into career day - 6 days ago
    Ben Boulware had a career day last Saturday against Louisville, and it all started by asking defensive coordinator Brent Venables a ton of questions last week. What does he say about pestering his position coach? What does Venables say about Boulware? Photo by Joshua S. Kelly / US PRESSWIRE Full Story »

Post your comments
Subject (Replies: 99) Author
Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Crump®
what makes David Hood think he has the final say???
dashibbit®
He does'nt have final say. He has...
RU4GOD2®
Start your own web site and you can say it too! **********
RickyC78
Re: what makes David Hood think he has the final say???
dgcannon39
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Dahamp2003
Not clear that 2 more Brewer picks would've changed outcome.
Razzmatazz
Re: Not clear that 2 more Brewer picks would've changed outcome.
dgcannon39
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
CRobb®
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Dahamp2003
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
dgcannon39
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
dgcannon39
Great summary. Nailed it!***
stodd1515
Re: Great summary. Nailed it!***
dgcannon39
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
big monk
Final say
glaspytiger
Re: Final say
dgcannon39
One big disagreement
NortherTiger®
Re: One big disagreement
dgcannon39
We no be too deep after all.***
Biochem 98
And a point about the offensive play
NortherTiger®
Re: And a point about the offensive play
dgcannon39
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Tiger DH
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
dgcannon39
DJCANNON39
Dahamp2003
One stat that I'd be curious to see...
jp_tiger
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
BadGuy
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
allorangeallthetime52®
Morris
CUsouix®
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
dgcannon39
great post...there is definitely a gap between the programs
Tigerfansince1972®
Actually, the gap started once they changed S&C leadership.***
deleted
but who's keeping score....batson is a nice man***
Graphic Tiger®
I agree and it's only going to get worse until we do
Tigerfansince1972®
From 1998-2008 under Batson, we went 9-2 against SCar.
Ridge Creek
guess who got hired in 2009?? Craig Fitzgerald***
Tigerfansince1972®
And he left for PSU and, we still lost.
Ridge Creek
you do realize S&C programs can continue after a coach
Tigerfansince1972®
Do you realize that everybody in every occupation at the
Ridge Creek
holy chit, I agree with you?? Wow. S&C staff needs to
AllTimeClemson
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
TomTom
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
lhaselden
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Erblove
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
TomTom
Not bad summary, pretty well said
silvavocati
again, it's because we're in the ACC, horsecrap!!
TIGERCOOK
The defense seemed just fine to me until...
NCTiger1990
CU exposed as fraud AGAIN. Played 2 good teams. Lost to BOTH
Razzmatazz
truth hurts***
Tigerfansince1972®
Re: CU exposed as fraud AGAIN. Played 2 good teams. Lost to BOTH
lhaselden
Despite small '08 class, many NFL skill players, not OL/DL
Razzmatazz
That small 2008 class was by Dabo's choice. Ford took 2 star
deleted
Give it a Rest already...
Terrierfan
Very good post.***
BillgoCU
Stop making excuses. Dabo is 0-6 vs noncon Top 25 final poll
Razzmatazz
Typo: I DON'T expect us to beat SCar every year.***
Razzmatazz
Re: Stop making excuses. Dabo is 0-6 vs noncon Top 25 final poll
Terrierfan
Re: Stop making excuses. Dabo is 0-6 vs noncon Top 25 final poll
Razzmatazz
Actually had there been replay back then Ford would have
deleted
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
lhaselden
I get your pt,but nc st is a cupcake and if we had a d that
jcope
10-2 w/ best win over 7-5 NCSU. Dabo now 3-10 in upset games
Razzmatazz
Re: 10-2 w/ best win over 7-5 NCSU. Dabo now 3-10 in upset games
tigerpaw13®
Re: 10-2 w/ best win over 7-5 NCSU. Dabo now 3-10 in upset games
lhaselden
Razz never will get it....
SeattleTiger
You don't get that the ACC is worse than ever.
Razzmatazz
Clemson is better off today...
Terrierfan
Re: Clemson is better off today... than lame TB not Danny.
Razzmatazz
No, I DO get that.. what you can't comprehend is
SeattleTiger
Sorry, that sentence should read "NOT in one season."***
SeattleTiger
It only took Spurrier 5 yrs (not 7) to start whupping CU.
Razzmatazz
Re: Razz never will get it....
lhaselden
Razz, you don't get it.....
RU4GOD2®
I certainly hope Dabo has me singing his praises in 1-2 yrs.
Razzmatazz
Couldnt agree more...where did our running game go?
AllTimeClemson
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
welldigger
boyd had time in first half
welldigger
Clowney
bigb1368
Re: Clowney
tgrstuckincola
Few right, mostly wrong analysis
sbrooks®
Re: Few right, mostly wrong analysis
TigerMark34
Re: Few right, mostly wrong analysis
sbrooks®
TB, Dabo, Jack, it's all pumper idolatry for oor coaching
deleted
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Oconee Tiger®
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
scotts_
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
TigerMark34
Those blaming the offense mean that you would expect to
1991Tiger
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Davy Boy
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
rosgriffin
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Bjr1
Re: Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Bjr1
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Splode
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Bulldogpaw
Interesting Fact...
clawpaw
RE: Dear Monday Quarterbacks:
Rex123
Re: RE: Dear Fellow Monday Morning Quarterbacks:
Rex123
Re: RE: Dear Monday Quarterbacks:
Razzmatazz
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
Miss80s
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
leftie
Re: Front Page Story: Hood: Final South Carolina game thoughts
sideliner

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