Clemson’s muddle huddle kick return was a beautiful disaster

During college football’s Rivalry Week, you often see teams dig deep into the darkness of their playbooks. Trick plays, crazy formations, and more are staples during Rivalry Week.

That was certainly the case from Clemson against South Carolina.

In this year’s installment of the Palmetto Bowl, the Gamecocks found themselves down 16-7 after a Clemson safety. South Carolina teed the ball up for the ensuing free kick, and the Tigers had something ready for the ensuing return.

The muddle huddle.

Mitch Jeter’s kick drifted down to the Clemson ten-yard line, where returner Will Shipley had settled under the football. Shipley raced upfield to the Clemson 17-yard line, where he joined a circle of Tigers who were waiting for him.

It was time to hide the football from the South Carolina kickoff team.

After the brief huddle, Shipley raced to his left, where there was a South Carolina player waiting to try and tackle him. The problem for the Gamecocks? Shipley did not have the football.

Instead, it was in the hands of Phil Mafah, who cut towards the other side of the field. Just when it looked like Mafah had put together a great return for the Tigers, he no longer had the football:

Did he try and throw this forward?

It certainly looks like it from that angle, and even more so from this replay angle:

Making matters worse? Not only did the Gamecocks recover the loose ball, but they scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession to cut Clemson’s lead to 16-14.

Clemson’s muddle huddle return was a beautiful disaster.

Perfect for Rivalry Week.

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