David Hood: Early Gator Bowl Thoughts

by - Senior Writer -

Ok, the bowl is less than two weeks away, the Tigers are wrapping up their bowl practices here in Clemson, and we are now faced with that same feeling we start getting in mid-August – is the game ever gonna get here?

At least I am, and while there is plenty to keep a person busy, the job, the holidays, family get-togethers, the joy that is Clemson basketball, etc., there is still that feeling that you just can't wait for kickoff.

With that said, it's not too early to take a look at the matchup, and try getting some early conversations started on the game itself. I know Husker fans have already been on the board, and I think that is fantastic because there is nothing better than a little smack talk before a big game.

And make no bones about it, this IS a big game. For both teams and their new head coaches, but probably even more so for the Tigers. First of all, even though we know that media perception and reality are often not the same, the Tigers have the perception in the national media of chokers, of being soft, of not being able to compete in a big game.

Losses in bowl games, losses on Thursday nights, and losses on national television have all added to this perception, and shaking it won't be an easy process. Luckily, it looks like the Tigers have the right coach for the job in Dabo Swinney, who has already shown that he wants to bring the toughness and swagger back to Clemson.

And a win, especially a tough, gritty win, against a team from the Big 12 on New Year's Day would be a great start. The Big 12 has earned the reputation for this season as being the best in the country, especially with the SEC having a down year and the Big 12 scoring points in bunches and having three teams ranked in the Top 10 most of the season.

A loss on the big stage, and people around the country would just shrug and assume the Tigers lost to a better team out of a tougher conference. A win, however, and the Tigers can position themselves nicely for next season, with everyone remembering a win over a major program as the steppingstone for a big 2009.

Granted, Nebraska has not been the Conhuskers of old, not the major player that they were under Tom Osborne, but this team still has the name, right there with Southern Cal, Ohio St., Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama, just to name a few. There is instant recognition in that name, and a win would give Dabo and his staff the impetus into a strong end-of-recruiting push and a great start on spring practice.

Ok, enough of that already. A loss doesn't hurt as much as a win helps is all I am trying to say. As for the media perception after a loss? Let the country and other teams overlook the Tigers next season at their own peril. I am going to go ahead and state it here, right now – this team is going to win the ACC next season.

Now on to Nebraska. The Huskers finished 8-4, one game better than the Tigers. They started out 3-0 against lesser competition, dropped three straight, and then won five out of their last six, the lone loss coming against Oklahoma. They averaged 33 points per game, and scored over forty points three times, over fifty points once. Only three of their opponents were ranked at the time they played, and Nebraska lost all three.

So, yes, they have weapons on offense and know how to score. But, as good as we have said the Big 12 is this season, I am not sure how good those defenses are out there. The Huskers' one big out of conference game was at home against Virginia Tech, and the Hokies came away with a 35-30 win.

The Huskers are balanced on offense, with an almost 50-50 run-pass ratio on the year, so you can't scheme against one part of their attack. The Huskers are great at holding onto the ball, and mixing up the run and pass once they get a lead. If the Tigers can keep up their ball-hawking ways, and force an early turnover or two, then the Clemson offense can score some points and make the Huskers one-dimensional, setting up Clemson's defensive line to go after Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz.

On offense, the Tigers face a Nebraska defense that has given up a ton of points. The Huskers like to play a pressing, man-on-man type of scheme, which could play into Clemson's hands. However, look for the Tigers to establish their own ball control early and hammer Nebraska with the run. Fullback Chad Diehl was the unsung hero of the South Carolina game, and I look for him to be an integral part of the game plan against the Huskers as well.

Once the running game is established, the Tigers can then start hitting play-action passes and maybe hit some big plays over the top of the Nebraska defense. I would love to see James Davis get about 80 yards in the first half, then see Spiller and Ford BOTH lined out wide later in the game. A play action pass with Davis in the backfield and those two out wide? Wow.

With all that said, I look for Clemson to be aggressive early, and get an early lead, then hammer away with Davis and Spiller late. It would be great to see Davis break off a long touchdown run to establish the Clemson career rushing record.

We'll get into more detail later, and hopefully we'll get a little better feel for the game plans as we get closer to the actual game, but for right now, I know a couple of things – 1. Nebraska is dangerous, and not to be taken lightly. 2. So is Clemson, probably even more so.

I have seen that this is a toss-up game, that 11 notable media outlets pick Nebraska and that ten pick Clemson. And this one could be close, a real nail-biter. But I don't think so. Deep down, Clemson wins by at least two scores, and the perception begins to change for real.

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Subject (Replies: 29) Author
David Hood: Early Gator Bowl Thoughts
Is this the same guy that predicted us to lose to usc and
probably a makeup article!***
Re: probably a makeup article! Revlon
Go to **** David!!***
Re: Is this the same guy that predicted us to lose to usc and
I hope your right about this game and next season!***
If we won 56-0 we still won't be ranked in the top-20 next
Completely Solid Orange®
Why's that they never learned with Notre Dame
Be positive. I think we win, i don't think it really matters
GOOD!!!! I hope they don't rank anyone next year......
Re: If we won 56-0 we still won't be ranked in the top-20 next
David Hood = Tigernet's QCB.***
Well the QCB is an out and out gamecock fan.
QCB worships the toilet Darth Visor takes a dump in***
Dr Claw
I use to call in and give the QCB ####. Cant believe he is
Sure hope your right David.***
Hartwell Hobo
New QB, New WR's, same OL that struggled this year
Gee David, what caused you to change your tune?***
Dr Claw
Re: Gee David, what caused you to change your tune?***JOINT***
The thing that scares me
David Hood = BiPolar journalist! Pick a side buddy!***
Mr. Hood... wasn't it you who said...
Re: David Hood: Early Gator Bowl Thoughts
Re: David Hood: Early Gator Bowl Thoughts
David Hood -- GO AWAY!
Hey, I saw Patterson on the sidelines last night.
So are you behind Dabo now ??? LOLZ at David Hood!!***
I didn't read it but it probably would have made me laugh
Better late to the party than never arrive. Dabo is the man!***

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