Dabo! Dabo! Dabo!

CUTigers.com
Posted Nov 29, 2008


CLEMSON - Dabo! Dabo! Dabo! That was the chant most of the 81,500 fans that were dressed in orange Saturday were chanting with 4:25 to play in Clemson's 31-14 victory over South Carolina.

The chant just wasn't a yell for celebration in Death Valley, but it was more importantly as message to Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips to make Swinney the school's permanent head coach.

"That was awesome. That was like Brittany Spears or something," Swinney joked. "It was great. It was awesome. We have great fans. It is a very humbling thing. It is a very humbling thing when people give you credit and all that stuff and appreciate something you have tried to do.

"I wish I could take all that glory an honor. We have great, great kids that have laid it on the line and we have a coaching staff that has busted their butts to get this thing done. That's where all the real glory and credit goes."

How much credit Swinney does get will be decided in the next day or two. He is expected to meet with Phillips Sunday afternoon following church and then meet with the team on Monday. Swinney hopes to have some idea by then so he can tell his team. His team hopes they tell him he is the new head coach.

"He has done a spectacular job all year, man," Clemson running back James Davis said. "He did whatever it took to get us to go."

What Swinney did against the Gamecocks (7-5) was serve a big helping of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The "Thunder & Lightning" backfield combined to rush for 179 yards and three touchdowns, all three scores coming from Davis, who scored on runs of 1, 20 and 2 yards. The senior finished the afternoon with 91 rushing yards and exited Death Valley by blowing the student section kisses as the finals seconds of the clock ran off.

"It felt good today," Davis said. "(The crowd's) been here for me and I just wanted to thank them. The fans showed up in the rain today. I just wanted to thank them for loving me and showing up to watch the game today against the Gamecocks."

It seemed as if everyone showed up for the Tigers (7-5), who qualified for a 10th straight bowl game, which they will more than likely find out where by next Saturday after the ACC Championship game is complete. Clemson totaled 383 yards in its most balanced offensive effort of the season, 184 rushing and 199 passing. The defense held USC to 92 rushing yards and picked starter Chris Smelley off four times.

"Clemson was the better team today," USC head coach Steve Spurrier said. "They had better coaches and players. The team we played today is an ACC Championship team. They thoroughly beat us."

Clemson began the beating on its second drive after defensive back Chris Chancellor intercepted Smelley at the Tigers' 15. Clemson moved the ball out to its 29 where on second-and-eight Jacoby Ford went around right end for a 21-yard gain to midfield.

After picking up a big third down play on third-and-3 at the USC 39, Spiller took a handoff and went off left tackle for a 38-yard gain to the 1. On the next play, Davis took it for a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers increased their lead to 10-0 on their next possession thanks to a Jamie Harper blocked punt. After moving the ball inside the five, the drive stalled and Mark Buchholz made a 22-yard field with 0:40 remaining in the opening quarter.

"This was awesome," quarterback Cullen Harper said. "I'm just so proud of these seniors and the rest of the team because we could have quit six weeks and nobody did."

The Tigers used a little trickery to build a 17-0 lead. Following Smelley's second interception, this time from safety Chris Clemmons, Clemson used a play called cock- a-doddle 'doo to add on to its lead.

The play called for Ford to stay near the sideline and act like he was tying his shoe where the defense doesn't see him.

No one did. The Gamecocks instead blitz Harper and safety Emanuel Cook had Harper by the ankle.

"We were supposed to block that guy on the edge," Harper joked.

But Harper stayed with the play and got of Cook's grasp enough to get the ball to Ford, who was wide open near the 30, like the play had been drawn up. After catching the ball, the speedster took it to the end zone for 17-0 lead with 8:33 left in the half.

"We had certain personnel on the field. Two people came in and three of us ran to the sideline," Ford said. "Coach (Brad) Scott acted liked he was chewing me out, and I kind of bent down like I was tying my shoe. I peeked a little bit to see if they could see me, then he gave me the little go signal, and after that I ran off."

The Tigers then used a third Smelley thrown interception, this time a Michael Hamlin pick, to set up Davis' 20-yard run off left tackle for a 24-0 lead.

South Carolina used a Clemson gift just before the half to get on the board with a 16-yard Smelley to Patrick DiMarco touchdown. Harper fumbled at his own 33 with 2:03 to play before halftime while Jasper Brinkley was bringing him down for a sack.

USC carried the momentum into the second half where Smelley found tight end Weslye Saunders for a 23-yard scoring play to cut the Tigers' lead to 24-14 with 11:32 to go in the third.

"We lost the momentum right there before the half and it was a good job by them capitalizing on it," Swinney said. "They did a great job opening up the second half and going right through us and scoring. They took the momentum."

But at that moment that's when Swinney saw how his team had grown as a football team since replacing Tommy Bowden as interim head coach on Oct. 13. First punter Jimmy Maners pinned the Gamecocks deep at their own 14-yard line with a 46-yard punt and then the defense stiffened and held USC to a three-and-out.

Spiller returned the punt to the South Carolina 44 with a 19-yard return and then the Tigers went to work to put the game away. Behind an offensive line that appears to be finally meshing together, Davis and Spiller rumbled down the field for 26 of the 44 yards on carries of 4, 2, 3,2,8,5 and 2 yards. The last being Davis' third and final touchdown of the afternoon for a 31-14 Clemson lead.

Clemson later used a 7-minute drive in the fourth quarter to ice the game.

"That's where we have grown as a football team," Swinney said. "Our kids went back to work and snatched the momentum back. To be able to run the ball like we did and stop the run like we did, that's how you win football games."



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