By Hale McGranahan.
Win the line of scrimmage, win the game.
Sounds cliché, right?
A little, but, more often than not, it usually proves to be true.
In Saturday’s 35-17 win over South Carolina, Clemson’s senior-laden defensive front owned the line of scrimmage, limiting running backs Mike Davis, David Williams, Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson to 66 yards on 18 carries.
“We’ve got all the talent in the world,” said Vic Beasley, who had five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. “Being able to do it against South Carolina was pretty special — caught a lot of eyes.”
The Gamecocks finished with 63 yards net rushing and were held to 6-of-15 on third-down. Of their three trips to the red-zone, two resulted in a touchdown. The other ended with a turnover on downs.
Even though South Carolina’s last possession in the first half was a few yards shy of the red-zone, DeShawn Williams counted that as a victory for the Clemson defense, which entered the weekend as the No. 1 unit in the country.
“That was big,” he said. “They got the ball in good territory and we had to at least not give them a touchdown.”
The field goal, which cut Clemson’s first half lead to 21-10, was the result of a Cole Stoudt interception by Skai Moore that was returned to the Tigers’ 41.
“Because, at halftime, it looked like they were going to score. We knew if they got a three that we would be good,” Williams said. “Those goal line stops…those were turnovers for us. We capitalized on those.”
Clemson certainly capitalized on the first South Carolina turnover. Beasley’s second quarter strip/sack was recovered by Ben Boulware. Three plays later, a 5-yard touchdown run by Wayne Gallman gave Clemson a 14-7 lead.
Keep the heat on Thompson and you’ve set yourself up for success. That’s the word, according to Williams.
On Saturday afternoon in Death Valley, it proved to be true.
“You’ve got Shaq Roland, you’ve got (Pharoh) Cooper, you’ve got (Nick) Jones, you’ve got all those guys and you don’t want to give them time to throw to those weapons, so we’ve got to get hungrier quick…we did that — shaking up some of his rhythm, timing passes,” Williams said. “It was a good job of play-calling and us getting to the backfield.”