It was yet another successful regular season for third-ranked Clemson as it yet again dominated in-state rival South Carolina on both sides of the ball while completing its third undefeated regular season in the last five seasons.
In completing their sixth straight victory in a row over the Gamecocks, the Tigers preparation for these matchups has really been a difference maker the past two seasons. In particular, moving certain players around while also testing different packages and formations.
“Especially when you have two weeks and it’s a huge game. This is the type of game you’re preparing for all season,” said co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. “Maybe not directly, but indirectly you’re preparing for that rivalry game. We had two weeks to prepare so we wanted to break bad tendencies that we could, especially when you’re trying to go into a championship phase.
“It’s not about the plays this time of year it’s about the players. Just getting them into a position to be successful. We had a lot of success this time last year moving guys around. Justyn (Ross) is comfortable with what we put on his plate and he’s handled it well.”
A player who many believed to be in for a monstrous breakout season, Ross hasn’t had the year people were expecting. While Ross is still playing exceptionally well for the Tigers, he has in many situations played second fiddle to top wideout Tee Higgins, who is becoming one of the fastest risers on many draft boards with his recent play.
Moving the sophomore around the field against South Carolina proved to be beneficial in getting Ross more involved in the offense.
“Any time you’re moving a guy around you’re not just going to have one play, you’re going to have multiple plays within that package,” said Elliott. “Ross did a good job of absorbing everything. We’ve moved him around a little bit over the course of the season but especially when you start talking about the bunch sets and different personal movements, that’s a little different for guys.”
Ross was definitely more involved as he exploded bringing in 9 of his 11 targets for 111 yards and a touchdown. Getting double the amount of targets than any other receiver for the Tigers, Trevor Lawrence had no problems delivering the ball to the dynamic wideout. In his two years at Clemson, it seems as if Ross has played his best football late in the season.
“I think that he’s just first, a confident guy. He lives for the moment. That’s what impressed me most about a lot of these guys, the bigger the stage is, the better they play,” Elliott said. “He’s built from that kind of material. The bigger the stage is, the better he’ll play.”
If there were a time for Ross to catch fire, it’s now and it is likely we saw the start of a hot run for the wideout Saturday.
In his last three games last season starting with the ACC championship game, Ross combined for 14 catches for 371 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a video game like 28.4 yards per catch. The sky’s the limit for Ross and it looks to be another strong postseason for the future pro.
Order your shirt today to remember Clemson’s 38-3 win over South Carolina