THE GOOD: Another Record - Spiller's kickoff return was a record setting run. It was his seventh career kickoff return for a touchdown, the only player in NCAA history to have that many. You just had that feeling that Spiller was going to take it to the house and he didn't disappoint. Finding out that he was sick made this run even more remarkable. Adrenalin is a great thing!
Sea of Orange- Hats off to the 15,000 or so Clemson fans who found tickets and attended this game. You were loud and proud and I commend you for wearing your orange in a hostile environment. Clemson was represented well… in the stands at least.
Wrap up - For the most part first contact tackling was much better. This has been an area of concern over the last three games and the Clemson defense showed improvement with the fundamentals of tackling. Unfortunately most of the tackles happened eight yards or more down field.
Routes - One area that seems to get overlooked are the routes the wide receivers run. They were simple at the beginning of the season compared to where they are now and the complexity of the offense has increased each week. Saturday was no different. Parker seems to have more success hitting receivers on crossing routes than he does with straight vertical routes. The coaching staff has done a good job in tailoring the play calling to meet the strengths of this offense. The execution was clearly lacking Saturday but the patterns were good.
THE BAD: Confused Big Boys - Play after play the offensive line seemed confused by South Carolina's stunting linebackers and last second shifts by the opposing defensive line. It wasn't so much that they were missing blocks as it was just not blocking the right defender.
Rhythm Nation - The Tiger offense could not find any rhythm whatsoever. I give South Carolina credit for causing the disruption but it shouldn't happen to this extent twelve games into a season. Parker's cadence was predictable as was the timing of every play. Just a few slight variations would have resulted in multiple off sides penalties by the Gamecocks. This should have been obvious from the field level and especially from the booth.
Palmer Time - You can't say enough about Michael Palmer. Simply put, he has been the most consistent player on the team. Palmer had his career game against the Gamecocks catching eight balls for 106 yards. The Tiger offense is going to miss him as much as anyone. Yes, I said anyone.
THE UGLY: Trenches - South Carolina was much more physical than Clemson on the line of scrimmage Saturday. I don't think the Gamecocks are a more physical team than the Tigers though. It leaves me wondering if South Carolina just wanted it more. I hope we get that desire back sometime between now and 8:00 Saturday night.
Turnovers - The turning point of the game was the first fumble. Without that turnover there is a good chance that Clemson scores again giving them a 14 point lead. History tells us that the Gamecocks might have folded right then. Instead, Clemson doesn't take care of the ball and South Carolina takes over around mid field. There is no such thing as a good turnover but some can be worse than others. Clemson gave it away at the absolute worst time on each turnover and, in my opinion, was the difference in the game.
Run Stoppers - This was another game where the defense got torched by the running game. Clemson is solid in every position on the defensive side of the ball so it is mind boggling that they continue to leave gaping holes between the tackles. Clemson knew they were vulnerable in this area and they even knew South Carolina was going to do what they did from a game plan standpoint. There were no surprises, just execution by the Gamecocks and lack of execution by the Tigers. It's painfully obvious that Clemson isn't going to be able to fix that this year.
The good, bad and ugly
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