In case you missed it, The Herald had a nice little piece today about how injuries torpedoed Clemson's season. The article was well-designed to assuage wounded Clemson egos eager to latch onto an excuse for their loss to USC, not to mention their ugly performances against GA Tech and N.C. State. Unfortunately, it's completely misguided. Besides being an exercise in stating the obvious (the article points out that Clemson had injuries in November as if that were a revelation, despite the fact that it's true of all teams every single year), the article neglects an all-important fact about football--the best teams are the ones that can weather the storm of injuries and keep on fighting.
Needless to say, any Clemson fan that tells you that they had worse luck with injuries needs to take a look at what Carolina experienced this year. Injuries are never a valid excuse, especially not in this case: not only did we have guys banged up late in the season; we, in fact, had lost one of the nation's best runningbacks, our best offensive lineman, and our starting QB for the season, and our star receiver played the game with a broken hand, managing to lay key blocks and catch a touchdown pass nevertheless. It could, after all, be worse than having a receiver with a nicked shoulder and a lineman with a minor knee sprain. Heck, USC was giving three freshmen extended playing time on the offensive line over the latter part of the season, and we were running with our third- and fourth-string runningbacks.
That we worked our way through these challenges says a lot about the relative state of these two programs, as well as about the progress USC has made over the past few years as a whole. There was a time, of course, when we struggled to work through injuries throughout the latter part of the season. Improved recruiting during the Spurrier era has made a major difference. It hasn't just been that we've brought in guys like Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore, although they've certainly been a huge part of it. It's also been having quality backups who were ready to step in and contribute when needed without missing much of a beat.
It's also, certainly, nice to know we're not the ones making the excuses. Per Clemson QB Tajh Boyd:
"You can't give 100 percent if you're not 100 percent. ... Guys are banged up this season, even the young guys like Charone and Martavis and my linemen. (This break) is just giving us time to heal."