By Will Vandervort.
Each week we take a look back at what went right and what went wrong in No. 21 Clemson’s 35-17 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in Death Valley.
Deshaun Watson’s performance will be talked about for years to come in the great history of this rivalry. Playing with a torn ACL, he threw for 269 yards while completing 14 of 19 passes and two touchdowns along the way. He also scrambled for nine yards to set up one of his two rushing touchdowns. Cole Stoudt came in for a few plays when Watson needed to adjust his knee brace and completed just one pass for minus-3 yards and threw an interception.
Running backs: A
Wayne Gallman became the first running back to rush for more than 190 yards against South Carolina since Ken Callicut had 197 yards in 1974. Gallman finished the game with 191 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. He had runs of 32, 31 and 27 yards in the game. Clemson also ran the Wildcat with good success as Artavis Scott and Adam Humphries combined for 21 yards on five carries.
Wide receivers: B
Scott became the first Clemson receiver to gain 185 yards against the Gamecocks. It is also the most yards gained by a wide receiver in the history of Memorial Stadium. Of his seven catches, Scott took two of them for touchdowns of 53 and 70 yards. He also had a 26-yard gain on another reception. Mike Williams had three catches for 59 yards, all three on third downs. The only disappointments were dropped passes by Williams, tight end Jordan Leggett and Germone Hopper. If they had caught those passes imagine what Watson’s numbers would have been.
Offensive line: A
Clemson averaged 5.6 yards per carry and more importantly Watson was seldom pressured in passing situations. They allowed no sacks as they got good leverage and won the individual battles at the point of attack.
Defensive line: A
Defensive tackles DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett lived in the USC backfield. Defensive end Vic Beasley recorded five tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Williams finished the game with five tackles, sack and two tackles for loss. The Gamecocks managed just 63 rushing yards and averaged just 1.9 yards per carry on 33 attempts.
Tony Steward had six tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss, while Ben Boulware recovered a fumble. Kellen Jones played well after coming in for Stephone Anthony, who was ejected from the game in the third quarter on what was a very controversial call on his hit on quarterback Dylan Thompson.
Thompson did throw for 249 yards, but he completed just 21 of 39 passes. The secondary also held Pharoh Cooper to two catches for 45 yards. Cornerback Garry Peters led the Tigers with seven tackles, tackle for loss and a key pass broken up on a fourth-and-goal play for USC on the Clemson two. Mackensie Alexander had five tackles and a tackle for loss as well. Korrin Wiggins broke up a pass and had four tackles, while safety Robert Smith had five tackles.
Special teams: C
Kicker Ammon Lakip missed his only attempt on a 47-yard field goal, while punter Bradley Pinion averaged 40.4 yards on five punts. But Pinion also kicked one kickoff out of bounds and that allowed USC to open the game with great field position. The kick and punt coverage played well as Copper only had one return for 13 yards and the Gamecocks finished the game with 14 overall. USC had just 49 yards on two kickoff returns.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris called a great game, mixing the run and the pass well while exploiting the Gamecocks weaknesses on the edges and up the middle. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables did a good job with his coverages, while also bringing pressure at the right times. His defense held USC to a season-low in points, rushing yards and total yards. Give Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney credit for having his team ready to play and not letting the streak affect his team’s preparation or mindset coming into the game.