Amid the bustle outside No. 15 Clemson's locker room after Saturday's game, tight end Michael Palmer grabbed offensive coordinator Billy Napier's shoulder and whispered a brief message.
The crux: Don't expect the Tigers' offense to repeat the same mistakes - two fumbles and an interception - that led to Saturday's 34-17 loss to USC in Williams-Brice Stadium.
"When you turn the ball over on the road early, it's going to kill you," Palmer said.
That sentiment was shared by Clemson's players.
But the Tigers' offensive troubles went much deeper than turnovers, undercutting a unit that had averaged 40.7 points and 415.8 yards during the team's six-game winning streak.
From a lack of a rushing attack and third-down inefficiency to persistent pressure on quarterback Kyle Parker, Clemson's offense ground to a halt, coming within a late fourth-quarter score of tallying its fewest points against USC since a 33-7 defeat in 1994.
After scoring on the opening kickoff, the Tigers failed to score on their first 10 drives - eight of which failed to net more than 20 yards.
"We just didn't ever find a great rhythm," coach Dabo Swinney said.
Clemson can point to its inability to generate a running game.
USC held the Tigers to a season-low 48 rushing yards - their lowest in the rivalry since at least 1980. Only once in that span had Clemson dipped below the century mark, and the Tigers had amassed at least 162 yards of their past five meetings.
Clemson notched only two carries longer than 7 yards - one a 19-yard Parker scramble.
Until that run with three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Tigers had gained more than 4 yards on just one of 12 first-down carries.
Consequently, Clemson quickly dug itself a hole on most possessions. Of the nine third downs it faced the first three quarters, six were at least 7 yards.
They went 1-for-9 on third downs in that span and finished 3-for-13 (23.1 percent), its lowest mark of the year.
"That's a recipe for failure," Swinney said. "We didn't do the things you have to do to win. Today we played uphill a lot."
The Gamecocks certainly had a hand in Clemson's woes.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson lauded his group for staying disciplined on the back side of plays to eliminate the cutbacks of shifty C.J. Spiller.
Spiller had just 18 yards on nine carries, but the equally telling number was that Clemson's versatile threat only tallied three catches for 19 receiving yards in addition.
Once the Tigers fell behind 24-7, USC managed to pressure Parker mostly with just a four-man pass rush, and his only consistently viable target was Palmer (career-high eight catches for 106 yards).
"They couldn't get (Spiller) the ball as much as the game went on," Johnson said. "We tried to get them to make sure they were playing physical, but not being overly aggressive."