Neither the scoreboard nor the stats tell the story as Clemson actually outgained South Florida in total yards 296-278 and only lost by five points. The same offensive problems that plagued Clemson most of the season carried over to the bowl game, including massive red zone issues and unbelievable turnovers. In addition, the lack of identity on offense and the inability to establish anything at all on the ground proved to be the Tigers' undoing. The only good thing that came from Saturday's loss was the fact Tajh Boyd played the entire second half, completing 13-of-23 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson ultimately had no answer for Bulls QB B.J. Daniels, who completed 19 of 26 passes for over 180 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding one more score on the ground. South Florida came into Saturday's game last in the Big East third down conversions but converted 9 of 14 Saturday afternoon. For a variety of reasons, Clemson's defense couldn't get off the field when it counted- giving up 31 points just over a minute into the fourth quarter. In short, it was one of the worst defensive performances of the year for a unit that was usually was pretty reliable.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Chandler Catanzaro made two of three field goals and Richard Jackson helped make the score more respectable by converting on an onside kick. Nothing really happened in the return game but the Tigers did keep an explosive Bulls unit in check. In short, it was an average performance overall.
Despite the fact the final score only indicates a five point margin of victory, South Florida, an average team in the lowly Big East, looked like it was two scores better for most of the afternoon. Credit the staff for getting the team to continue to fight trailing by 18 points early in the fourth quarter, but other than that it was bad performance all around. The offense still can't get out of its own way and seems to struggle putting together consistent game plans, the defense was seemingly kept on its heels by South Florida's quick passing attack. Not a fun day to be a Clemson player, coach or fan.
Honestly, isn't the best thing about this game is the simple fact the season is now over? It was a miserable year in which nothing went right and all of that was on full display Friday afternoon - from Kyle Parker's interception and rib injury to the near recovery of back-to-back onside kicks - it was a microcosm of Clemson's 2010 season. Thankfully, it's now over. And hopefully, the problems that were seen throughout the year, particularly on offense, will be rectified before the start of next season.
GRADES: It's over, finally
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