The South Carolina Gamecocks (7-4) take on the Clemson Tigers (10-1) in Death Valley tomorrow. Kick-off is scheduled for just after 12pm and the game will be televised by ABC. This article looks at five things the Gamecocks need to do well in order to endure a seven-game losing streak against their state rival.
1. Stick with what worked, but adapt as well – South Carolina found magic against then-No. 5 Tennessee last week, scoring 63 points and amassing over 600 yards in offense overall. There are certain aspects of this game plan that can work in your favor again this week. The pace of play-calling was much better than it had been all year. They were also better at getting personnel in and out of the game in a timely manner, forcing the Vols to defend the entire field in the passing game and running game. The offensive line played its best game in years last week, but the Clemson defense is a different animal and probably not one the Gamecocks can block as long or as well as they did against Tennessee. Offensive staff will need to adjust their play call to allow for this Spencer Rattler to get rid of the ball quickly and choose wisely when and how often shots are fired across the field. Banks, fades, and quick throws to the flat should all be part of the game plan to help Rattler develop rhythm while staying upright.
2. find balance – South Carolina rushed for over 150 yards against Tennessee and pulled it off with a combination of running backs and wide receivers. You also used Dakereon Joyner intermittently at quarterback and should be doing so again this week to try and unbalance the Clemson defense and use their aggressiveness against them. However, they will likely have to allow Joyner to throw the ball to keep the Tigers from charging the line of scrimmage when Joyner comes into play. Back race Mar Shawn Lloyd is expected to return later this week after missing the last three games and should add a spark to the ongoing game. The Gamecocks need to be able to succeed at running and throwing and not find themselves in the third and long game.
3. Start fast – South Carolina has started slow in road games far too often during Shane Beamer’s two seasons as head coach, and they can’t afford to do that again this week. Winning away is difficult enough, but hobbling out of goal expecting a win against a side who have won 40 straight games at home is unrealistic. The Gamecocks need to build on the momentum from last week’s win and get off to a strong start through all three stages. A bad first quarter could easily push them into a hole they can’t get out of. Clemson have won so many games at home not only because they have been so talented in recent years but also because they almost always play from the front in front of their home crowd.
4. Shipley included – Clemson runs back Will Shipley is one of the best in the country at its position. It has a great combination of speed, acceleration and efficiency. It rarely loses length and almost always runs north-south. If he has a big day on the ground, South Carolina’s chances of winning that game go down significantly. If they can contain him and force Clemson into their share of third and middle and third and long situations, their odds of winning increase. I would expect defensive coordinator Clayton White taking a similar approach to last week, leaving his cornerbacks on an island with the Tiger receivers and using more body to stop the run, including when DJ Uiagalelei carries the ball
5. Let everything hang out…again – South Carolina played loosely and in a no-loss scenario against Tennessee last week they faltered and they need to do the same this week. Clemson is the team that could feel the pressure not only to win, but to win in a convincing manner as they are still in contention for the college football playoffs. The only things really at stake for the Gamecocks are braggart rights, a recruiting boost, and possibly a better bowl game. Coaches must be willing to take some risks and call games with aggressiveness like they did against Tennessee. Mentality They taught players to “attack” last week and they need to continue that mindset in this game.
Final analysis – Clemson could easily suffer three losses this season after narrowly escaping Wake Forest and Syracuse. I don’t think this team is as good as many of the youngest Tiger teams that were contenders for the national championship at this point in the season. However, the opponents who caused their defenses the most trouble were those with agile quarterbacks and/or strong running plays. The Gamecocks don’t have any of those things except when Dakereon Joyner is in the game as quarterback, and the number of snaps he’ll see there is limited. The Gamecocks were also a team that struggled on the streets, and Rattler in particular hasn’t strayed far from Williams-Brice Stadium.
Alongside Gamecock’s offensive line played last week, I have my doubts about how it will hold up against a Clemson defensive front loaded with future NFL players, including some who could ultimately make the top 15 of the draft . The Gamecock defense has also struggled with teams with a double threat quarterback this season, and I think it’s going to be difficult for them to get off the field as often as they need to in this competition. If I’m wrong and the offensive line can give rattler time and the offensive can run the ball, then the Gamecocks have a chance to win.
As much as I would choose South Carolina to end the fuss, I will finish eighth straight with the Tigers in this series based on how I think the two teams are a match.
forecast – Clemson 31 – South Carolina 24