Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for Clemson and South Carolina in the Tigers’ 30-0 rivalry win over USC in Columbia.
The Clemson running backs: Riding a one-two punch of freshman tailback Will Shipley and sophomore Kobe Pace, the Tigers ran all over the Gamecocks, scoring their first two touchdowns on the ground. Shipley broke free for a 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Pace exploded for a 34-yard scamper in the second quarter to build an early cushion for the Tigers. Clemson also utilized quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei on the ground with the designed runs, and freshman Phil Mafah saw carries too, adding a third Clemson rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Combined, Clemson ran for 265 yards on 43 carries.
Andrew Booth Jr.: The junior cornerback might’ve raised his NFL Draft stock on Saturday night with not one but two interceptions against South Carolina quarterback Jason Brown. Coming into the game with one interception to his name, Booth was all over top USC receiver Josh Vann, intercepting a pass intended for him in the first quarter on USC”s 13-yard line and pulling a deep pass attempt for Vann just in front of the Gamecocks end zone one quarter later.
Clemson’s front seven: In addition to the Clemson secondary picking off the Gamecocks twice, Clemson’s defensive front dominated the line of scrimmage, hurrying the quarterback eight times, with defensive end Myles Murphy tallying four hurries himself. Brown was on the run most of the night, and USC’s running backs struggled to find any breathing room, finishing the night with
Cam Smith: In one of the few positive plays for the Gamecocks, defensive back Cam Smith intercepted Uiagalelei on a deep pass thrown into Gamecocks territory, ending a possible scoring drive Clemson early. Though the USC offense was unable to take advantage of that turnover, the interception marked the third in the last four games for Smith, whose status was at least somewhat in doubt for the game with a knee injury.
Jason Brown: Though the senior former third-string quarterback has flashed in moments for the Gamecocks since injuries to Luke Doty and Zeb Noland thrust him into action, Brown was unable to find any sort of rhythm Saturday night. The Clemson defensive line had Brown running for his life behind the line of scrimmage, but Brown didn’t help matters with a pair of interceptions on questionable throws to receiver Josh Vann. Brown was replaced with Noland in the second half and finished with just 67 yards on 8-of-19 passing.
Offensive execution: The Gamecocks simply couldn’t move the chains in key moments, converting just four of 16 third-down attempts. Time of possession was actually near-even between both teams, but the Gamecocks produced only 1.7 yards per carry and half the total net yardage that Clemson produced. Clemson shut out USC for the first time since 1989.
D.J. Uiagalelei: The Tigers didn’t need to throw the ball Saturday to beat the Gamecocks. Clemson won through defense and running the ball. But had USC been more competitive on the offensive end, Uiagalelei might’ve had a difficult time passing his way back into the contest. The Gamecocks limited the Tigers sophomore to just nine complete passes and 99 yards on 19 attempts. He threw zero touchdowns and one pick.
USC run defense: With Saturday’s gaudy Clemson rushing totals, South Carolina has allowed at least 190 rushing yards in four of its last five games. Though USC’s defense did a fine job of containing Uiagalelei, the Tigers gashed USC on the ground, scoring rushing touchdowns with three different running backs and totalinh 265 rushing yards.