Last Saturday, Clemson lost its second heartbreaker of the year. After the Georgia Tech heartbreak, the team had to travel out to College Station. Before the heartbreaker, Kyle Field was already a tough enough place to play. Combine Kyle Field with a team that was just not emotionally ready to play and you have a recipe for disaster.
It is natural for fans to have concern about how the team will respond after the Duke game considering the 27-6 loss following Georgia Tech. However, this is a completely different situation. I mean no disrespect to Texas A&M, but at the time the Aggies were a non-ranked out of conference opponent. The Aggies did not immediately draw the Tigers attention.
Now, the Tigers will face their arch-rival South Carolina. Coach Tommy Bowden fields questions year round about whether or not he thinks he can beat South Carolina. From a coaching standpoint, the IPTAY tour is much friendlier when Bowden is able to win this game. Bowden knows as well as anyone how important this game is to the Clemson faithful. After all before 63-17, some were still not sure he should be retained as the Tiger’s head coach.
The players want this game as a matter of pride. If fans think it would be embarrassing to lose the last two games of the season to Duke and South Carolina, one can only imagine what the players who have worked all season are thinking. There is no shortage of motivation in this one. The comments from South Carolina defensive coordinator Rick Minter will surely be a hot topic this week.
Going to a bowl game is extremely important to the players and to this program. Younger players always benefit from the extra practice time. The young offensive and defensive lineman stand the most to benefit from the extra practice time. For seniors, it is a chance to extend your careers at least one more game. Also, there is the reality that the players get paid travel money for bowls. So for those wondering why Boise, Idaho is attractive bowl for players, think about being paid for every mile between Clemson and Boise.
In reality, no one except the players themselves know how they will respond. This is not the same case that A&M was earlier in the year. The motivation will be there, it is at home, but now the execution must also be there.