CLEMSON - The package surprised Clemson's defenders so much that even they believed it to be the read-option.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele clarified that No. 15 TCU's bread-and-butter offensive threat actually faked the typical read-option blocking, but the hair-splitting was moot.
Up until Clemson's 14-10 defeat Saturday, Horned Frogs quarterback Andy Dalton was known for his high completion percentage and lofty win-loss record as starter.
Dalton unveiled an unheralded agility against the Tigers, though, rushing for a team-best 86 yards on a career-high 19 carries - almost all on plays where he faked a handoff to a running back and darted in the opposite direction. The 6-foot-4 junior has gained more rushing yards once (91 yards) in his three-year starting tenure.
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"He was more productive than we expected," Clemson end Da'Quan Bowers said. "We couldn't really get a lick on him."
Protect and serve
The offense's miseries in the red zone overshadowed an otherwise stellar job in erasing All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes.
Hughes, the nation's reigning leader in sacks, was credited with a mere two tackles and a single quarterback hurry against a variety of Clemson protections.
Redshirt sophomore Landon Walker more than held his own in one-on-one situations, but the Tigers also devoted a tight end to Hughes' side on about one-third of their first-half snaps, and Hughes was unable to out-quick them.
Walker said it was much the same plan that effectively nullified Virginia edge-rusher Clint Sintim last season.
"Honestly, we just kind of played our game and didn't change anything," Walker said.
Slip and slide
For the second straight home contest, Clemson slogged through a driving rain, and fog even rolled in midway through the fourth quarter.
Players from both teams had their shares of slips, but none more costlier than when Tigers tight end Dwayne Allen briefly lost his footing cutting toward the goal line with the Tigers facing second-and-13 from the TCU 17 with just more than two minutes left. Kyle Parker's pass sailed through at the spot Allen was intended to be at.
"Right call, right play," coach Dabo Swinney said. "We just didn't make the play. It was certainly there to be made."
Taking a knee
Junior left tackle Chris Hairston did not play after pushing through the week to return from a sprained MCL suffered the game before.
Hairston went through pre-game warm-ups but appeared to heavily favor his left leg.
With a purpose
Senior running back C.J. Spiller joined some elite company in the NCAA all-purpose record books, becoming just the second player in college football history to accumulate at least 2,500 rushing yards, 1,500 kickoff return yards and 500 punt returns. The other was former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush of Southern California.
He also surpassed former Duke running back Chris Douglas for second place on the ACC's career all-purpose yardage list with 227 yards on the day. He needs 64 to eclipse former North Carolina running back Leon Johnson.
Redshirt freshman receiver Jaron Brown got his first career start, but the roulette at the "X" receiver position continued when Brown was unable to make a second-quarter catch. Junior Xavier Dye then got snaps for the first time in three games, and the team turned to another benched vet, junior Terrance Ashe, on the final drive. ... Spiller's 1-yard touchdown plunge marked Clemson's first rushing touchdown this season. The Tigers entered as one of the five Football Bowl Subdivision teams without a rushing score. ... TCU improved to 54-1 under coach Gary Patterson when holding the opponent at 17 points or less. The Horned Frogs are also 38-1 the last five years when they don't lose the turnover battle.