It’s happened a lot this year, and the line has been the same. Well, yeah, Steve Spurrier has said, when it doesn’t work, of course you should have done something different.
It didn’t work again on Saturday, and while it might not have mattered in the long run, it drove an effective nail through South Carolina’s chances to notch a sixth straight win over Clemson.
The Tigers had just scored on the shovel pass/jet sweep that the Gamecocks’ defense treated like a communicable disease to make it 28-10 with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. The day was getting long, but the day could still be won – USC’s flame just needed to be fanned back to life as it was down to its last spark.
It started, a third-down pass to Pharoh Cooper going for 46 yards and a first down at Clemson’s 30. USC got a gift when Dylan Thompson scrambled out of trouble and was hit late, getting Stephone Anthony ejected and the Gamecocks a first down at the 14. Then, Mike Davis went through the middle for 12 yards and a first-and-goal.
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Clemson’s very good against the run and would probably stack the box. Still, there would be four cracks and a variety of guys to run it – Davis, Cooper, Shon Carson, David Williams, Damiere Byrd.
First down, Thompson threw and the pass was batted down. Spurrier and his players said it was a good play-call but simply broken up.
Second down, Thompson tried to find Byrd and the pass was incomplete.
Third down, USC finally ran – with Thompson, who was squashed for a loss of a yard.
Fourth down, decision time, USC has to get six points and Thompson’s throw was incomplete in the corner.
Four cracks, two yards, and USC didn’t get six points.
Odds are that the Tigers would have simply run that same sweep again, and they still would have had an 11-point lead even if USC had scored the touchdown. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.