Key takeaways from South Carolina's shutout loss to Clemson in 2021 Palmetto Bowl

·3 min read

COLUMBIA – South Carolina's 30-0 loss to No. 23 Clemson (9-3) Saturday night inside Williams-Brice Stadium was a reminder of the climb that the new coaching has in front of it.

For the first time since 1989, the Gamecocks (6-6) failed to muster any points against the Tigers in the Palmetto Bowl. The last two games against Clemson, USC has managed just 3 points.

South Carolina gained just 149 total yards of offense, ran for just 43 yards on 20 carries and collected just 11 first downs for the game.

Despite Clemson missing a couple of key pieces and quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei not being 100 percent healthy, it looked like another day at the office for Dabo Swinney's bunch. The Tigers were more talented at just about every position on the field and they were able to lean on that advantage to suffocate USC.

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Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry (5) sacks South Carolina quarterback Jason Brown (15) during the first quarter at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina Saturday, November 27, 2021.
Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry (5) sacks South Carolina quarterback Jason Brown (15) during the first quarter at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina Saturday, November 27, 2021.

South Carolina loses line of scrimmage battle to Clemson

Shane Beamer talks about it all the time. Other Power Five coaches, including Swinney, talk about the importance of winning the battles on the lines of scrimmage.

South Carolina didn't win on either side of the ball as the Tigers consistently disrupted USC's offense and pushed the Gamecocks defense back off the ball. No rhythm could be established and it made for a long night the near-capacity crowd in attendance.

Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy was credit with four quarterback hurries himself and three other Tigers had one.

On the other side, USC rarely affected Uiagalelei in the pocket but he didn't need to throw much. The Gamecocks failed to slow down Clemson's run game, which piled up 265 yards at more than 6 yards a rush.

South Carolina turns ball over but Clemson can't capitalize

One of the things the Gamecock offense couldn't afford to do against Clemson was turn the ball over. Brown threw two first-half picks, one on the 1-yard line, further expounding the unit's struggles.

Credit Clayton White and his USC defense, though. They gave up just 3 points off the pair of interceptions and kept the Gamecocks close in the first half.

Shane Beamer turns to quarterback Zeb Noland for spark

Late in the third quarter, Zeb Noland had his number called. Beamer turned to him looking for a spark for an offense that had not gained 100 yards through nearly three full quarter.

But it was too little, too late. Noland, in his first action since Oct. 23 at Texas A&M, couldn't provide the production and efficiency needed to man the comeback. He finished 11-of-22 for 96 yards.

South Carolina offensive line gets bullied

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In South Carolina's first four drives in the opening quarter went for minus-3 yards, 2 yards, 0 yards and 8 yards. Four straight three and outs.

By that time, Clemson has already 10 points up and that was already more than enough. The Tigers defensive line manhandled USC's offensive line as ZaQuandre White and Kevin Harris couldn't find room to run and Jason Brown had an orange helmet bearing down on him soon after the snap.

South Carolina couldn't sustain drives, averaging just 3.3 yards per play.

Gamecocks drops seventh straight to rival Clemson

Because of the odd year last year where the two teams did not play, it's been eight years since South Carolina has earned a win against Clemson. During that stretch, the Tigers have outscored USC, 279 to 104.

South Carolina has had three different head coaches (Steve Spurrier and Will Muschamp) during the losing streak while Swinney has headed up Clemson for all seven victories.

Cory Diaz covers the South Carolina Gamecocks for The Greenville News as part of the USA Today Network. Follow his work for all things Gamecocks on Twitter: @CoryDiaz_TGN

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Key takeaways from South Carolina's loss to Clemson in Palmetto Bowl

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