By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush.
In this edition of Qualk Talk we take a look back at Clemson’s 34-17 win over South Carolina.
–What a crowd! From the parking lots to the stadium, the energy was unbelievable. Clemson’s fans should pat themselves on the back for this one. Steve Levy and Kelly Stouffer raved about the environment, and with good reason. The pom-poms (or “shakers”, for the SEC crowd) looked great on TV.
–Watching Steve Spurrier call plays is just fun sometimes. The third down option call from under center early in the game was magnificent. The Clemson defense was completely fooled.
–The finish on Wayne Gallman’s first carry of the game proved to be a precursor to a phenomenal performance. He ran hard all afternoon through some gaping holes.
–Clemson was just gashing the Gamecocks on its first drive of the game until Deshaun Watson exited the game. The Germone Hopper drop, screen pass for a loss, Ammon Lakip miss was an unfortunate sequence.
–That sequence was just about the most “Cole Stoudt” thing that could have happened to the Clemson offense. As has been the case for much of the season, Stoudt waited too long to release the ball, leading Gallman right into a tackler. If he had thrown the ball on time—about three steps earlier—Gallman had blocking and space to make a play.
–PET PEEVE ALERT: Twice, Dylan Thompson had me ripping my face off by taking a sack outside the tackles instead of throwing the ball away. That’s just a stupid play, every single time.
–Clemson ran the wildcat formation first with Artavis Scott, but there’s no surprise South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper cashed in first out of the look. The Tigers got a little flat defensively against an edge run, and the Gamecock receivers and tight end sealed well to create an alley for Cooper to score.
–The pass into quadruple coverage in the first quarter is easily the worst decision Watson has made this season. To make matters worse, he actually turned and looked at his checkdown option in Gallman underneath—which was open and should have been the play—before looking back across the field.
–Scott’s first touchdown on the jet action was made possible by Watson’s sleight of hand. I’ve noticed repeatedly this season Watson’s innate ability to keep the defense guessing during a play, which is something the other quarterbacks on campus don’t possess. Watson faked a pitch to the right, which froze the deep safety and created a more favorable angle for Scott.
–After further review, I actually think the officials got the call right on the onside kick. The ball appeared to come off the ground, but I think it probably just flipped off the tee into the air. That’s why kick catch interference was called. The receiving team has to have a chance to catch the ball. Even if it hit the ground once, by rule, interference could still be called. It’s a weird rule that I had to look up, but the refs got it correct.
–Tyler Hull was incredible in creating advantageous field position for the Gamecocks. He pinned the Tigers inside their own five-yard line twice in the first quarter.
–Clemson was lucky there wasn’t a safety late in the first quarter on a power run with Gallman. The play took too long to develop and almost resulted in two points for the Gamecocks. It was a very poor play call in my opinion.
–Tyshon Dye’s only carry of the game was actually well blocked, except for one player. Stanton Seckinger whiffed on a kick-out block on the back side of the play and allowed a crashing Gerald Dixon to stop Dye on third-and-one.
–I still don’t know how Thompson didn’t feel Vic Beasley on his heels when he fumbled. Thompson could’ve thrown the ball away or tucked it and run, but he dangled the ball out dangerously and had it stripped away. It was a curiously careless play from a veteran.
–Gallman’s touchdown came on that little option sweep play that the Tigers ran a bunch against Georgia Tech in the first quarter (before Watson’s injury). Watson read the outside backer and delivered the ball perfectly to Gallman, who basically walked into the end zone.
–Mercy, Carlos Watkins made a stellar move to drop Mike Davis for a loss early in the second quarter. He deked inside the left tackle, who busted his assignment on the play, and was largely untouched. Watkins has been rather quiet this season, but he’s one of the guys the Tigers will be counting on next season.
–Seckinger’s knee injury wasn’t good at all. He immediately clutched the back of his knee, which signifies a PCL injury. Sure enough, that’s the fear at Clemson right now. The injury looked worse on replay than it did in person, and I thought it was fairly gruesome live.
–You’ll never convince me Watson didn’t score on the scramble. I know he scored on a sneak one play later, but the curious decision not to even review the play until Clemson called a timeout was another questionable officiating decision that benefited South Carolina.
–Deshawn Williams played like a man possessed, particularly in the second and third quarters. He played perhaps his finest game as a Tiger and was incredibly disruptive. I noticed him more than Grady Jarrett in this game, and I’m not sure I’ve ever said that in their respective careers.
–Stoudt’s interception was so obvious…I mean, it was absolutely unbelievable. I watched Skai Moore drift in front of Scott as Stoudt stared him down. Honestly, it was a brutally awful play for a senior. No college quarterback, at least not at this level, should be making that pass.
–Because people think we get too nitpicky on Stoudt, I’ll make this observation: Watson underthrew Leggett on the first drive of the first half, which caused him to come up short of the first down marker and forced a Clemson punt. Leggett didn’t run a great route, but he still could have gained an additional yard if the ball was thrown better.
–The broadcasting crew made this observation: South Carolina showed more two-back looks early in the third quarter, and it worked for a while. I believe Clemson is better with Korrin Wiggins on the field than with B.J. Goodson. In other words, nickel seems like a better use of personnel than a base 4-3 look. The Gamecocks utilized the I-formation early in the game, but after a few minutes, it was mostly three-receiver sets—particularly once tight end Rory Anderson exited due to injury.
–Mike Davis was, uh, none too pleased with something when Goodson popped him on a first down play midway through the third quarter. I have a hunch he was ticked at Thompson for hanging him out to dry. Nevertheless, his visible frustration was perhaps a little insight into the mood among the Gamecocks on offense.
–Pharoh Cooper dropped straight back to pass in an empty set. I honestly had no clue we’d see that. Also, despite this wrinkle, Clemson blitzed nine in a three-receiver look on the next play—a Cooper rushing attempt.
–I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think, “Here we go again,” when Jerell Adams picked a ball out of the air that caromed off of Shaq Roland’s helmet on a third down play.
–Elliott Fry has never been more popular on Twitter than when he missed his 48-yard kick in the third quarter. Clemson fans readily reminded him of his inflammatory tweet from earlier in the week.
–The 70-yard touchdown from Scott was a thing of beauty, and it firmly placed the momentum in Clemson’s favor. Scott’s tightrope act down the sideline was special. This was clearly a breakout game for the freshman speedster.
–Just for my friend Ed McGranahan, here’s the breakdown of Scott’s receiving yardage: He caught six of those jet sweeps for 170 yards. He caught one traditional pass for 15 yards. In case you were wondering.
–I’m not sure what Wiggins was doing, but Cooper abused him in coverage down the seam for a big gain as South Carolina tried to chip away at a 28-10 lead. It was a nice pump fake by Thompson, as well.
–The Stephone Anthony targeting penalty was the worst I’ve ever seen. He never led with the head. He never made “forceful contact”. He even extended both arms. That was an absolutely egregious call, and the replay official who upheld it should be fired or suspended.
–The subsequent goal line stand by the Clemson defense was reminiscent of the Louisville game. Without arguably the most talented player out on the field, the Tigers held the Gamecocks out of the end zone. Honestly, South Carolina never even came close to scoring.
–The defense had another incredible effort to stop the Gamecocks on fourth-and-short in scoring range. Thompson attempted a quarterback sneak, but the Tigers won the line of scrimmage and Vic Beasley propped Thompson up at the line of scrimmage until his teammates could come and finish him off. Brent Venables did a spectacular dance when his team came off the field. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him more excited, and that’s saying something.
–It looked like a Cover 2 alignment when Damere Byrd toe-tapped the back of the end zone. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be Tampa coverage and Tony Steward didn’t get deep enough, or if it was just a good play for a traditional Cover 2 look. Either way, it was an exceptional play for Byrd and the Gamecocks.
–Clemson’s final scoring drive was a super exhibition for Gallman. The freshman ran hard all day long, and his encore on that final drive was very good. Credit goes to the offensive line for paving the way throughout the game and for winning the LOS on Watson’s short touchdown run that ended it.
–Steve Spurrier showcased some weird clock management at the end of both halves. He took two timeouts to the locker room needlessly at the end of the first half. Then, he didn’t use his timeouts at the end of the game in a goal-to-go situation on defense to conserve time. It probably wouldn’t have mattered ultimately, but that was curious to see from a savvy coach like Spurrier.
–I also think the fumble at the end of the game was a fumble, not a simple play as the officials said. Forward progress might have stopped, but the referees never whistled the play dead. Once again, it’s just maddening to see officials botch calls like this in an era of instant replay.