Clemson vs. Georgia Southern: Final Notes and Prediction
|Friday, September 14, 2018, 8:16 AM- -|
No. 2 Clemson is a heavy favorite against visiting Georgia Southern this weekend, but Tiger head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t worried about the final score – he just wants to fix last weekend’s plethora of mistakes.
Clemson held on to beat Texas A&M 28-26 last weekend in a mistake-filled contest that was in doubt until the final minute. On tap this week is Sun Belt foe Georgia Southern, a program that won six National Championships as part of the FCS level.
NO. 2/2 CLEMSON (2-0, 0-0 ACC) vs. GEORGIA SOUTHERN (2-0, 0-0 SUN BELT)
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN
WHEN: Noon Saturday
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson (81,500)
TELEVISION: ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks and Alex Corddry)
RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
**Sirius 108, XM 194, Internet 956
*This is the first meeting between the programs.
*With a win, Clemson would extend its winning streak in Saturday games to 19. The current 18-game streak is the longest of any Power Five school in the country. It is the second-longest Saturday winning streak in school history, trailing a 21-game Saturday streak across the 2014-16 campaigns.
*The 2018 season and Clemson's debut against Georgia Southern marks the second straight year in which the Tigers will face an opponent for the first time in school history. Last season, Clemson recorded a 56-3 victory in the school's first all-time meeting with Kent State.
Georgia Southern will be the 104th different opponent faced by Clemson all-time. Clemson holds a 61-38-4 all-time record when facing an opponent for the first time. Clemson has won 12 of its last 13 games when making their all-time debut against a new opponent, dating back to 2003.
The team's lone debut loss in that time frame came against South Florida the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., the last game before Clemson embarked upon its active streak of seven consecutive 10-win seasons.
*Georgia Southern tight end Ellis Richardson's father, Chuck, played linebacker at Clemson on the 1981 national championship team and his brother, Chris, played defensive end for Clemson's football team from 2007-2010 … Defensive coordinator Scot Sloan was a defensive back for the Tigers from 1988-91, winning an ACC title in 1991 … Former Eagle tight end J.L. Banks walked on and is now a member of Clemson's squad.
*Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts is the second cousin with Chicago Cubs pitcher Carl Edwards Jr., who played a pivotal role coming out of the bullpen as the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.
WHEN GEORGIA SOUTHERN HAS THE BALL
The Eagles’ spread option offense runs through quarterback Shai Werts, a native of Newberry. Werts had a Clemson offer as an athlete. So far this season, he has rushed for 246 yards and four scores while throwing for 183 yards and two scores. For his career, he’s rushed for 1,112 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing for 968 yards and nine scores. Senior running back Wesley Fields is the second-leading rusher with 33 carries for 173 yards. The Eagles have attempted just 16 passes in two games, but Wesley Kennedy has four receptions for 100 yards.
It will be interesting to see if head coach Chad Lunsford wants to open the playbook against a Clemson defense that struggled against the pass last week. If the Eagles stay true to form, it will be a long day offensively – the Tigers are giving up just 2.1 yards per carry this season.
WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL
The Tigers will once again play quarterbacks Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence. There is no doubt that Bryant is the starter, but when Lawrence played the first two series of the second half at Texas A&M last week it almost felt like the coaches were wanting Lawrence to take the job, similar to what happened with Deshaun Watson at FSU in 2014.
Swinney told us Wednesday night that both quarterbacks deserve to play.
This is an offense that is struggling to find an identity right now. Teams are loading the box to stifle the run and forcing the Tigers to throw the ball. It’s worked so far – the Tigers have 11 plays of 20 or more yards and nine that have gone for 30 or more. But the offensive line hasn’t clicked and the Tigers struggled to put drives together last week, with five 3-and-outs and eight drives of five plays or less. The Tigers will be looking to find that consistency this week.
Clemson punter Will Spiers had several nice punts last week but everyone will remember the 22-yarder with the game on the line. Coverage teams were decent (two punt returns against for 25 yards) and Greg Huegel has been perfect on field goals and extra points.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Weather (wind) might play a factor, as could the early start. It might take both offenses a few drives to settle in and get things going. Clemson’s defensive line and linebackers should dominate the option, however, allowing the Clemson offense time to find the rhythm it so desperately needs. The Tigers have a good day through the air and rush for over 200 yards in pulling away.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 47, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 10
Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 42-10 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 51-13Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 38-7 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 45-10 Clemson
Hannah Rogerson - TigerNet Intern - 32-10 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 48-9 Clemson
Ben Boulware* - Former Clemson All-American linebacker - 69-2 Clemson
* Boulware is new to TigerNet picks and will be here all season long. The former Clemson defender is now a co-owner of The Junkyard gym in Anderson, South Carolina.