Monday, November 26, 2012

Rivalry Weekend Recap: Clemson vs. Gamecocks

Well, it's been two days now, so I think I am finally able to talk about the game...

Showdown Saturday has already come and gone. This was the weekend that all of the teams wait for. Stadiums were filled to maximum capacity. Bitter rivals left it all on the gridiron to battle for bragging rights for another year. The Clemson vs. Carolina game has once again been played in Death Valley, and for all us Clemson fans, there was very little to rejoice about.

Going into the game, the two teams were evenly ranked, and it was anyone's guessed as to who was going bring home the victory. The two teams had similar records, and both teams had some well known key players. Clemson's offensive stars, Watkins, Hopkins, and Boyd went up against Carolina's top notched defense. The Gamecocks went into the game missing a few of their starting players, Connor Shaw, and Marcus Lattimore, and even Clowney was unsure if he would play in the game or not. The Gamecock's second string quarterback, Dylan Thompson played all four quarters of the game, and preformed quite well considering this game was only his second start of his collegiate career.  Both teams had not been preforming to the best of their abilities in their last games, which added even more confusion to the fans and predictions of the game.

The stadium was roaring as the game kicked off. The game started off with a punt by both teams, and then on the next possession the Clemson Tiger's made the first strike with a short touchdown run by Tajh Boyd. Carolina then completed a 13 yard pass which tied the game at 7. Clemson responded with a long run McDowell and then an explosive 43 yard touchdown pass by Boyd to Hopkins. The drive took only 24 seconds for the Tigers to score and give them a 14- 7 lead which ended the first quarter of play. Unfortunately this was one of the last plays that gave Clemson fans anything to cheer about.

The beginning of the second quarter brought a flurry of punts from both teams. The offensives seem to be stalling and the game seem to be slowing down dramatically. About half way through the second quarter Adam Yates hit a 23 yard field goal for South Carolina which made it a 14 - 10 game, with Clemson barely in the lead. After a few plays on the next drive, Boyd threw an interception, the Clemson defense then held the Gamecocks to a three and out and forced them to punt the ball and that ended the first half of play in this rivalry game. The teams went into the locker room with numerous things to change and discuss.

After half time the Clemson team seemed to begin struggling on both sides of the ball. The offensive line were slowly beginning to give ground against Clowney and the rest of the defensive line of the Gamecocks. Boyd did not seem to be up to par against his normal level of play that we have seen all season long. The Tiger's defensive team seem to be able to barely hang on as Thompson began to gain confidence in his passing game, which lead to Carolina scoring a touchdown on their first possession of the half. After Clemson punted them the ball on their next possession, Yates hit another field goal from 43 yards which game them a 20 -14 lead of the Tigers. Clemson then responded with a  37 yard field goal from Catanzaro to bring it to 20 - 17. The next possession for the Gamecocks consisted of short runs and passes which slowly chipped away at the field and ended the third quarter.

In the final quarter of play there was very little to talk about. Both teams had an interception or two, they both traded punts, and the only points scored was a touchdown by the Carolina Gamecocks. The game ended with a score of 17 - 27 with the Gamecocks gaining the win.

There were several things that contributed to the lose of the game for Clemson. The first was Boyd's lack luster performance on Saturday. This was one of the best defensive line's the team has faced all season long. The Clemson offensive line allowed no sacks versus Maryland and NC State, but the Gamecocks had three sacks within the first 30 minuets of play. Clowney set a school record for the number of sacks in one game. This type of pressure is something the Boyd is not used to having to cope with during a game, which led to the Clemson star receivers getting few catches and few yards, aside from the huge Hopkins catch. Without the famous quick striking Tiger offense that is known for moving down the field quicker than any team, it left us at a huge disadvantage. The constant pressure caused him to be forced to throw on the run and scramble out of the pocket more than he was comfortable with. Another factor to consider is the Tiger defense. This is an aspect of Clemson that has not been consistent this season, and this game was no exception. The defense seemed to struggle with being able to stop the Gamecocks from completing play after play. Towards the end of the game the Tiger secondary finally was able to shut down the passes by Thompson, but then they left the field wide open for him to tuck the ball in and run.

With the loss from the game, that means that the Tigers will be playing in the Chic-Fil-A bowl against either LSU or Georgia on December 31st.

While the Tigers did not win, and this is the fourth year in a row. I'm still proud of all the young men that played on the field, and I'm still proud to say I'm a Tiger fan. Dabo and the rest of the coaching staff can promise that next year will have drastically different results.

Fight Tigers! C-L-E-M-S-O-....N!!!!

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