After a week of rivalry talk and anticipation, No. 4 Clemson defeated rival South Carolina 56-7, continuing the Tigers’ three-year win streak over the Gamecocks.
After the game, the media spoke to head coach Dabo Swinney, offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Ben Boulware.
Here is what we heard:
Swinney was extremely proud of his team on both sides of the ball, especially the seniors who played their last game in Death Valley on Saturday night. He was happy to see a complete Clemson domination throughout the entire game.
“I’m just really happy for our team. Tremendous preparation, the guys were locked in and ready to play and just really dominated the game all four quarters. I’m very happy for our seniors to have another home game, our last home game, we obviously we didn’t get it done. To have another opportunity to play tonight was special for them. If you’re going to win a championship of any kind your best players have to play well. That’s the thing I was most pleased with … our best players played incredibly well,” Swinney said. “Every skill senior we have scored a touchdown tonight … (Jordan) Leggett, Artavis (Scott), Mike (Williams), Wayne (Gallman), and obviously Deshaun threw six of them, so really happy for those guys,” Swinney said.
“Defensively, (Ben) Boulware, Carlos (Watkins), Cordrea (Tankersley), Jadar (Johnson), those guys played a heck of a ball game. Seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and I thought the interception by Jadar was a key play in the game.”
Swinney was pleased with the Tigers’ run game and said that it was the key to dominating the Gamecocks.
“Tonight was a night where our team played incredibly well, controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. They couldn’t run the ball, we could. And I thought that set the tempo for everything else in the ball game,” he said.
As any coach knows how important winning a rivalry game is, Swinney said he was happy to give Clemson fans their right to brag for another year.
“I’m really happy for our fans. I know how important this game is to everybody. I’m happy that our fans get to have bragging rights for another year,” Swinney said.
Scott continued praising the senior group of guys who had the opportunity to play in Death Valley one last time after a loss to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.
“Obviously, a great night. Really pleased for the seniors. That was a big thing, and we challenged that group offensively. Those guys have had some incredible games in Death Valley. And we just said, ‘Let’s make this last one the best one.’ To go out on top was really special, says a lot about that senior group. It’s definitely a great memory we’ll all hold for a long time,” Scott said.
As a senior playing his last game in Death Valley, Watson talked about defeating the Gamecocks for the third time in his career. In his last game in Death Valley, he tied his own school record of six touchdown passes and threw for 347 yards.
“There was a lot we put in and a lot the fans put in so it was good to think about the memories we made here inside Memorial Stadium, and Death Valley. I just stole that moment one last time,” Watson said.
When the quarterback first arrived at Clemson, he promised to never lose to the Gamecocks. In each of his three games against the Gamecocks, he came out on top.
“I prepare for moments like this and I know my teammates would do the same thing,” Watson said. “Each and every week, I just focus on winning the game. Losing never even crosses my mind.”
When thinking of the long-time rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina, Watson had one thought that came to mind…Clemson is South Carolina’s “daddy.”
“In our head it’s like the daddy beating the son. The daddy gave the son a whipping. We run this state. When you look at the long-time record, it speaks for itself,” Watson said.
Like Watson, a senior playing his last game in Death Valley, Boulware talked about how fun it was to come out on top and defeat the Gamecocks.
“It was super fun. To go out there and dominate your little brother in all phases and all four quarters, was super fun and kind of a redemption game from senior day. To go out on top against our little brother is awesome,” Boulware said.
Clemson players heard that South Carolina players were calling Clemson their little brother earlier in the week. Boulware was quick to set the record straight.
“They always have and always will be the little brother,” the senior said.
As the Tigers enter Week 14 of the college football season, the ACC Championship game is in the forefront of their minds.
“11-1 is a great season. Now for us it’s about moving on, seeing if we can win the ACC Championship, that’s our goal. This time next week, I hope I’m in front of you guys and we’re celebrating an ACC Title,” Swinney said.