|by David Hood|
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has brought up those upsets repeatedly this week, and refused to remark on whether the backups and freshmen would see significant snaps. Smart man. After all, to admit to anyone that you plan to play your third-string quarterback in the third quarter is asking for trouble, and Swinney sidestepped those ridiculous questions from certain members of the media this week.
I mean come on – what was he supposed to say? “Yes, I think we will be up by 62 points at the half and Chad Kelly will start the third quarter.” That’s just not gonna happen.
However, as the media and fans, it’s ok to look at this game and wonder who is going to get playing time. Let’s be honest, if some of the key backups aren’t playing by midway through the third quarter, then something has gone horribly wrong.
The bad news is that several younger players who would have benefitted from playing in a game of this type – MacKensie Alexander, Korrin Wiggins, Tyshon Dye, BJ Goodson – are all out with injuries.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE AT NO. 4 CLEMSON
Who: South Carolina State (0-1) at No. 4 Clemson (1-0)
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium (81,500) | Clemson, S.C.
TV: Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio: Clemson Radio Network
Line: Clemson by -52
Clemson Personnel Update
*Tyshon Dye (RB), out with back
*MacKensie Alexander (DB), out with groin
*B.J. Goodson (LB), out with concussion
*Korrin Wiggins (DB), out with hamstring
*Joe Gore (OL), out with knee
*Scott Pagano (DT), out with ankle
*Sam Cooper (TE), Probable with knee
*Jordan Leggett (TE), Probable with knee
*Martin Jenkins (DB), Probable with shoulder
WHEN SC STATE HAS THE BALL
The Bulldogs (yes, I am typing that for the second week in a row, and Clemson plays three Bulldog teams this season) feature a hurry-up, no-huddle spread attack under coordinator Joe Blackwell. Blackwell has senior Richard Cue running the show. Swinney mentioned this week that the Bulldogs ran it 58 times last week in a loss to Coastal Carolina. Clemson’s front seven did a decent job against the Georgia tandem of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley last week – they have to improve their angles and eliminate the big play – and should find it a little easier going against this group of Bulldogs. Justin Taylor – who began his career at Kentucky – had 24 carries for 80 yards against Coastal, while Julius Pendergrass carried it 18 times for 58 yards. As you can see, both players didn’t exactly light it up despite the workload, and if Clemson’s defensive line and linebackers Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony can control the running lanes, Blackwell might turn to the air early. Enter Vic Beasley, who had two sacks on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray a week ago. Cue completed 13-of-23 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against Coastal, and Tyler McDonald had four catches for 108 yards. If I’m Blackwell, I try to take advantage of the matchup of a slot receiver on the Clemson SAM, use a little play fake and throw passes underneath for gains, just like Georgia did last week. However, with Clemson’s improved pass rush, it might not be enough.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL
S.C. State linebackers Joe Thomas and Justin Hughes had 11 and 10 tackles respectively last week, but Coastal Carolina managed to run the ball successfully, and Clemson’s offensive line should have no trouble opening lanes for Roderick McDowell and his backfield running mates. What Clemson fans don’t want to see is quarterback Tajh Boyd running the ball Saturday – the Tigers need to keep him healthy – so expect a big dose of McDowell and Zac Brooks early and D.J. Howard and C.J. Davidson late. In the passing game, the only question is how many attempts Boyd will get before he exits the game and how many snaps will No. 2 QB Cole Stoudt and even Chad Kelly receive. It will be exciting to see youngsters like Germone Hopper and Mike Williams get extended action, if the score dictates that they play. I’m with Chad Morris this week – if this offense just takes care of its own business and eliminates the drops, there really isn’t a chance that a defense can shut them down.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Does anybody remember Wofford going toe-to-toe with Clemson a few years ago in Death Valley before finally falling 35-27? That is exactly the scenario the Tigers need to avoid this week. However, Clemson is a better team now, and the Bulldogs don’t have the talent that Wofford team possessed. S.C. State may find a few cracks in the Clemson defense, and maybe their defense comes up with a big play a time or two, but they just don’t have the depth to compete for four quarters with Clemson. Enjoy a sunny day in the Valley.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 55, SC STATE 13
|Game||Actual||David Hood||Mickey Plyler||Tony Crumpton||Nikki Steele||Lawton Swann||Pigskin Prophet||Georgia||38-35 CU||37-34 CU||31-28 CU||31-28 CU||34-31 CU||37-31 CU||39-34 CU||Points||-||3||1||1||1||1||1|
* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 1pt for picking the correct winner
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org