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Instant Reaction: Clemson defeats USCjr.

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Heisman candidate anyone?
Heisman candidate anyone?
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

I know we are all really upset that we didn't blow Junior out of the water and lay the kind of historic beating on them we know this team could. Regardless, we won the game, are undefeated, and roll into the ACC championship game. All this game does is give the committee pause with regards to our number one ranking. A win in a rivalry game isn't measured by how wide the margin is (unless its a classic beatdown like 63-17 or 45-0), but whether or not you win the game. We had a comfortable margin for the majority of the game and never trailed.

That said, we have so much to correct for next week. UNC will beat us if we turn the ball over like we did in this game (just watched UNC score 35 points easily in the first quarter against a decent NC State team).

USCjr. fans are the absolute worst. Have some class and stop throwing things at players. Clemson fans showed up in Columbia. Tons of orange in the stands.

Offense

Three players won the day for Clemson. Deshaun Watson, Tyrone Crowder, and Deon Cain.

Deshaun Watson punched his ticket to New York City with this kind of performance. The rest of the team played a mediocre game, but Watson kept methodically driving down the field amidst a comedy of fumbles and turnovers from other players. Give South Carolina's defense credit for trying to strip balls and hitting hard. Battle tested players like Wayne Gallman and Scott just coughed up the ball (I think replay got the call right on Scott personally, but I understand that others would argue it wasn't indisputable--fortunate is the word that comes to my mind). Watson was having none of it. He kept converting on third down and carving up the USCjr secondary that was playing two deep cover, prevent defense. They were hoping Watson wouldn't be able to dink and dunk, that he would make a mistake. Those didn't come.

Watson looked especially effective turning on the jets a couple of times. He is definitely gaining a step now that he is looking fully healthy.

Did you notice a difference in our run game when Tyrone Crowder was on the field? I am sure we were trying to save him as much as possible with his turf toe injury, but when he was inserted into the lineup it was night and day. Morris isn't horrible (he got matadored a couple times early), but Crowder moves people. He gave our offense a serious boost immediately.

Deon Cain. We needed the true freshman to step up and he did in a big way. Not only did he catch a beautiful bomb from Watson, he made some important third down catches.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Leggett. Impressive. CJ Fuller. Showed a good burst and got some tough red zone running yards and he fell forward (also didn't fumble).

Problems: Gallman was not falling forward, took a ton of shots and turned it over. We need him to get healthy this week. Artavis Scott hasn't been his explosive self since getting injured. Can't cough it up and put the ball on the ground multiple times.

Defense

Not sure where to start here.

Ben Boulware was atrocious. Judging from his arm brace he must have separated his shoulder against Wake. Multiple times Boulware didn't play sound assignment football, especially on the crazy Orth pitch play. Got to give Carson credit for his tough running (so much better than Wilds). The guy can blitz and attack, but he is struggling mightily in coverage and playing his assignment.

DJ Reader should be ashamed of himself. He let Nunez plod straight through him into the endzone.

Letting Cooper go free for 70 yards was one of the more disappointing busts of the season. Can't do that against UNC.

We let Orth just carve up our secondary for an entire drive. Baker got owned on a slant and Tank got beat twice. Uncharacteristic and hopefully not a trend going forward because we need our corners to play well to keep Boulware blitzing. Other than that drive Orth was bailing out the defense because he had wide open players he just missed them

Got to give Baker credit for the pickoff. He read the play well and left the flat to go and pick that off. Just good football.

Special Teams

Actually good coverage on kickoffs this week! Teasdall didn't let a punt get blocked.

Gregory, gregory. Stop missing XPs. How can you be so money on FGs and struggle so mightily on gimme's.

Not sure what that was on the last kick--we barely got the ball past the 40 yard line. Just kick it out of the endzone. Next season please find someone who can do this.

I know we were afraid of fakes, but did we really not want anyone back when they were on the 20 yard line. Once again, Ray Guy shows up against Clemson.

Overall, there is a lot more I could gripe about, but we beat our rival and we are undefeated. We are in the driver's seat for the playoff. I trust our coaches to get the troops ready for the next game. Venables has his work cut out for him because he will need a good gameplan.

All hail to Deshaun Watson. What a performance. Time for the defense to step up.