By Ed McGranahan.
In the world of one game at a time, permission was officially granted to discuss the South Carolina game.
For those of you who really aren’t impressed that Clemson won eight of its first 11 games and sit at No. 22 in the last CFB Playoff rankings,
your season began the moment you inhaled the fumes of Georgia State’s buses as they scooted toward I-85.
As one GSU fan said on the elevator ride down to terra firma, “the check has already cleared.”
Frankly they were glad to get out of town before somebody realized Clemson didn’t really beat them as badly as they’d imagined. App State
beat them, 44-0. And Arkansas State won 52-10 – on homecoming.
Clemson’s four first-half touchdowns were comparatively polite.
Many in Death Valley had seen enough, the senior recognition and most of the military fanfare were over before sunset. Hardly anybody was buying the suggestion that the offense played well because it didn’t take much to improve over last week’s game at Georgia Tech.
Cole Stoudt was more efficient but GSU didn’t generate much of a pass rush, and Clemson began the game with four tight ends and no receivers.
If there was any doubt, the plan was to run frequently on a defense that’s had a load of trouble stopping anybody’s ground game and take the
load off Stoudt’s shoulders.
Actually, the most encouraging aspect of the game was Tyshon Dye’s 20-carry performance. The 124 yards were a season high for Clemson’s
backs, which should be comforting as Chad Morris schemes for South Carolina and a headache for Lorenzo Ward whose defense struggles to slow the run.
Dye and Wayne Gallman could be the best one-two punch since Davis and Spiller. Not suggesting they’re comparable because it’s all relative,
but if Carolina has a soft underbelly it’s there.
What Dabo Swinney and Morris couldn’t – or wouldn’t – tell us tonight was whether Deshaun Watson can be ready. Watson rode an exercise bike during the earliest minutes of the game then stood down the line from the bench. Swinney said he looked good late last week. You can decipher what that means.
Swinney said Stoudt looked good Saturday, which was what he’s supposed to say a week after his quarterback completed three passes and threw
Actually, during the touchdown drive near the end of the half, Stoudt seemed engaged and playing free. The pass to Mike Williams off a slow
roller from the center (gasp!) happened so quickly, Stoudt went to the sideline and asked someone to explain what he did.
From up here it looked like he fielded it like an infielder and flipped it to Williams for a 13-yard gain.
“The guys from Georgia State who hit me couldn’t believe I completed that pass.”
What a change from Georgia Tech when he couldn’t put the ball within a receiver’s reach. Unfortunately the interception will count against him,
but Swinney said the received didn’t run the route properly and misjudged the ball. It was Stoudt’s seventh interception in four games,
and considering Clemson’s recent turnover track record in games with South Carolina those could be a harbinger.
Everybody seems to think if Watson plays, Clemson should be a lock. Of course anybody else who sustains a collarbone fracture, hand bone
fracture and knee sprain in eight months is labeled “injury prone,” so don’t count Stoudt out.
And quick reminder would be appropriate about now. Two years ago everybody thought that with Conner Shaw injured Clemson was a lock.
Talk amongst yourselves.