When USC defensive back D.J. Swearinger lowered his shoulder and stoned Clemson running back Andre Ellington dead in his tracks then stood over him and flexed it looked like another case of an ill advised penalty for the Gamecock senior. The play drew a 15 yard penalty for taunting and gave the Tigers a first down at midfield in the fourth quarter trailing by only three points.
Swerainger is no stranger to big hits, personal fouls and suspensions, but this one looked like it could be costly for the Gamecocks. That is a play that can easily alter a drive and get you beat. But three plays later Brison Williams intercepted Tajh Boyd, and on the next drive the Gamecocks put the game away with a touchdown to go up 10.
At that point Swearinger’s play went from stupid to statement.
The play pretty well sums up why USC has won four in a row over their arch rival: They are bigger, stronger, faster, and more physical. Some bitter fans will call Swearinger classless and some may use the embarrassingly unfortunate term “thug”, which I’ve noticed for some reason is never used to describe white players who play on the edge and sometimes clearly cross the line. It is easy to criticize guys like Swearinger, but the fact of the matter is guys like him help you win a lot of games. Just ask the Gamecocks.