When Clemson Has the Ball

by - Radio Host -

When Clemson Has the Ball

Earlier this week we took a look at the offense from South Carolina, so today I wanted to look at the defense Clemson will face.

Perhaps the main reason South Carolina has a five game winning streak against Clemson is that the Gamecocks have been dominant on defense.  Players like Clowney, Ingram, Gilmore, Holloman, Stewart, Taylor, Sutton, Swearinger and Quarles have shut down the Tigers and forced turnovers.

Unfortunately for South Carolina there has been a lot of turnover in personnel.  Simply stated, this defense is nowhere near as talented as the previous five.

It all starts up front where it has been musical chairs at defensive end.  Gerald Dixon has played the most while David Johnson will get the start on the other side Saturday.  J.T. Surratt has been the most consistent performer inside but others have not been consistent.

The strength of the defense can be found at the second level.  Sophomores Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton have played well in the past two weeks and Sharrod Golightly has been a play maker much of the year.

The Gamecocks have not played well in the secondary and are set to be without starting cornerback Rico McWilliams, who suffered a concussion against South Alabama.  Brison Williams will move to one corner which leaves a void at safety.  The Gamecocks will go with Chris Moody there but Moody has not impressed often times this season.

The numbers tell a significant story for this defense.  The Gamecocks are 93rd in the country in scoring defense allowing 30.8 points per game.  They give up 428 totals yards per game which ranks 87th in the nation.  USC is 107th in the country against the run giving up 213 yards per contest and are 45th against the pass allowing 214 yards a game.

It all started early this year when South Carolina gave up 52 points to Texas A&M in the opener.  But Georgia put up 35 points.  Vanderbilt scored 34 points.  South Carolina gave up 45 to Kentucky, 42 to Auburn and 45 to Tennessee in losses.

In past five seasons USC has entered this game with a good record and have been ranked high in the polls.  This year's team, is 6-5 overall and 3-5 in the SEC because this defense is nowhere near what we have seen from them in the past.

The same can be said for Clemson's offense.  The Tigers have struggled since Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
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went down in the Louisville game.  Clemson has a hard time running the football behind an offensive line that has not impressed.  The passing game has struggled without Watson as well.

The past five games in this rivalry have come down to turnovers.  This is likely to be the case Saturday at noon.

Finally, it is no secret that Watson holds the key to the offense.  How much he plays and how effective he can be is perhaps the biggest key to the latest installment in this rivalry.

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