Grading the Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
Rod Gardner has come up with big catches all season for the Tigers.
QUARTERBACK- Despite rushing for 80 yards on 19 carries against South
Carolina, Woodrow Dantzler still appeared to be limited by an injured left ankle.
While he was still dangerous as a runner, he didn't seem to have the tackle-breaking
explosiveness that he possessed before the injury. Dantzler's performance on
passing plays was average at best, with the junior quarterback missing wide-open
receivers throughout the evening and drawing the sideline ire of Tommy Bowden
after numerous stalled drives.
RUNNING BACKS- Travis Zachery ran for 84 tough yards against a stingy
Gamecock rushing defense. While his statistics might not be awe-inspiring, Zachery
was again a key in the Tigers' offensive success.
RECEIVERS- You know the game "500", where a ball is lobbed
into a group of kids and the first person to make five catches wins? After Saturday
night's performance against South Carolina, Rod Gardner can officially lay claim
the title of "500" Champion of the World. As one Gamecock fan said
as he walked out of Death Valley, "By God, I hope I never see that #23
again." Here's betting that Lou Holtz would echo that sentiment.
OFFENSIVE LINE- While the Clemson running game sputtered, the Tiger offensive
line did do a masterful job protecting Dantzler. The Clemson front five managed
to hold the Gamecocks without a sack on 29 passing attempts.
DEFENSIVE LINE- Following a difficult first quarter, the Clemson defensive
line was surprisingly dominant against the run, allowing only 101 yards on 38
carries after giving up a 61-yard touchdown run to Derek Watson The Tigers also
managed a reasonable pass rush for the first time since early on in the season.
LINEBACKERS- Clemson's linebacking corps came up big against the run,
with Keith Adams and Chad Carson stuffing Gamecock ball carriers on a number
of occasions. Carson' second-quarter sack of Phil Petty killed a South Carolina
drive and gave Clemson good field position on the ensuing punt.
SECONDARY- After two horrible performances against Georgia Tech and Florida
State, the Clemson defensive backs bounced back to limit the Gamecocks to only
200 yards passing. Perhaps somewhat lost in the late-game heroics, Alex Ardley's
two interceptions in the third quarter allowed the Tigers to remain in the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS- As of last Friday, anyone who predicted that Clemson would
beat South Carolina thanks to three field goals would have found themselves
locked in room with four padded walls. One lesson was made perfectly clear after
Aaron Hunt's last second heroics: Never rule out ANYTHING when Clemson and South
Carolina are on the same field.
COACHING- Strangely enough, Clemson's offense has become somewhat- gasp-
predictable in the last few weeks, particularly on short yardage plays. With
Dantzler at quarterback, opposing defenses have been quick to snuff out quarterback
running plays. Regardless, the Tiger's version of the "Hail Mary"
pass late in the game was brilliant, with Dantzler rolling out to one side and
turning to fling the ball to Gardner on the other end of the field. Defensively,
credit Reggie Herring for adjusting to the Gamecock rushing game after the first
few drives. After being humiliated twice in the last month, the Clemson defense
fought hard and, for the most part, played smart football against a quality
South Carolina team.
Grades: Offense- C+ Defense- B+