Well, I hate to say it, but we told you about Clemson's shortcomings all year here at STS and you saw them all last night. Give Carolina credit, as they improved over the course of this season then came out and won the football game. That being said, I will start with Clemson by giving a shout out to Kevin Steele and our defense. Again the defense played well enough to win/keep Clemson in the game but their efforts were foiled by shortcomings in offensive and special teams areas. Defensively, Alshon Jeffery had a big game but Marcus Lattimore did not. Keeping one of the two in check should be considered a good outing. Clemson gave itself the best chance to win by making South Carolina throw the ball to be successful and, to their credit, they were able to make some nice plays through the air.
I have not watched the SC game film yet but can tell you our offense is absolute crap. We could not run the ball because, guess what, McLain and the rest of our offensive line got worked. South Carolina stinted and/or brought extra guys and our offensive line had no clue what was going on. Too many times we saw the defenders shooting the "A" gap to kill a play. When we weren't getting slaughtered up front, we were busy dropping passes. When we weren't dropping passes we were throwing balls that were not even close to receivers. When we weren't throwing balls away from our receivers, we were throwing them to the defenders who turned a poor decision into six points. Long and short, the offense killed us tonight. Clemson had offensive opportunities but, top to bottom, did not execute worth a crap.
When the offense wasn't putting the defense in a poor position, it was the special teams. We have a "snapping specialist" on scholarship. His only role is, as his title would lead you to believe, to snap the ball. Clemson essentially gave the Gamecocks 6 points Saturday because we (and by we, I mean our "snapping specialist") cannot consistently snap the football 12-15 yards to our punter. There are two big issues at play here. First, we cannot snap the ball correctly and have not mastered this skill 12 games into the football season. Next, this is a scholarship position that could have been better allocated by the Clemson coaching staff. Clemson has repeatedly had issues snapping the ball during kicking opportunities this year indicating a disturbing pattern that has not been corrected over the course of a season. Clemson can ill afford to give away points in such a fashion and expect to win given the offensive woes we've seen this season.
So, what do we think? We have three "wide receivers guys" on the staff and still have drops. Our young receivers appear to have regressed to date. Why can't Jeff Scott or Dabo Swinney get these guys to play well? The Tigers' route running is, as usual, fair to poor and the excessive number of dropped passes is inexcusable. Our drops against South Carolina were pitiful, derailed this offense, and removed any rhythm/continuity we had going. Amazingly, 12 games into this season we still see the same problems out of this group that we saw at the beginning of the season, only now Freshmen and Sophomores are in the game instead of Seniors.
Our offensive (line) "guru" was again exposed by a decent defensive front. Brad Scott's crew got ripped repeatedly and could not decipher anything unique the South Carolina did up front. We saw Clemson's offensive line stand still, refusing to move their feet to get into proper position. We saw the Gamecocks shoot gaps completely free. They whipped us up front and you don't win many games losing that battle.
What is the moral of this story? We are poorly coached offensively. Overall, I do not think this is necessarily a talent issue. While we do have way too many walk-ons on scholarship, Clemson has recruited enough quality players to at least put forth a decent effort. Coach Ford hit the nail on the head in a couple of interviews this past month saying that Clemson's players are either overrated coming into school or that this staff does not develop talent while in school. The latter is further emphasized by lack of improvement by the offensive squad over the entire 2010 season and inability to correct obvious mistakes and shortcomings over a 3-4 month period.