"It's personal." Clemson players expecting a backyard brawl with South Carolina


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Clemson and South Carolina play next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Clemson and South Carolina play next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

CLEMSON – Clemson players said all the right things in the week leading up to Saturday’s home finale against The Citadel, but thoughts of the Bulldogs were quickly replaced by thoughts of the Gamecocks. It’s rivalry week, and it’s personal.

Clemson improved to 10-1 with a 61-3 victory Saturday, while South Carolina overcame a sluggish start to outlast Wofford and improve to 8-3. The rivals renew acquaintances next week in Columbia (7:30 p.m. kickoff, ESPN) and the Tigers are already focused on winning their fourth in a row a series they’ve dominated.

Linebacker Jamie Skalski gave his early thoughts on the rivalry.

“It's personal. It's personal. But it's also the next game,” Skalski said. “We all knew what to expect from this game, so we were prepared and mature about it. But next week is personal.”

Quarterback Kelly Bryant grew up watching the rivalry first-hand.

“I’m an in-state kid. All of the in-state fans are going to be looking at this game no matter whose side you’re on - Clemson or South Carolina,” Bryant said. “Thanksgiving weekend, it’s Clemson and South Carolina. This is why we come here, to play in games like this. We’re going to be ready. We know it’s going to be a hostile environment down there, but we’ll be ready for the challenge.”

Bryant scored a touchdown in Clemson’s 56-7 victory last season, and he wants the Tigers to keep the momentum.

“Just going back to the touchdown, it was really good. It seemed like that night, everything was clicking for us,” he said. “Now, we’re just going to try to carry over into the next. It’s a rivalry game. This right here means a lot to both sides, so we want to keep the trend going where we’ve been on top the last few years.”

Bryant said he knows the Gamecocks have been playing better and he expects nothing less than the Gamecocks’ best.

“It’s hard not to keep track because they’re an in-state school. They’ve been doing really good this season,” Bryant said. “They’re a really good bunch of guys down there, so they’re going to be ready to play.”

Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow admitted that South Carolina can beat the Tigers.

“We were definitely thinking about The Citadel, but now that it’s here, we’re ready to go win it,” Renfrow said. “I think they’re definitely talented and good enough to beat us. They’re a good team. Growing up in South Carolina, I’ve always looked forward to it. They had our number when I was in high school so I would get all of the crap from my friends. We’re just going to try to keep it going and get the win.”

Another in-state player, Marcus Edmond, also knows what the rivalry means.

“It means a lot for our program for the state,” Edmond said. “They’re going to come and play their best game. We’re going to play our best game. It’s going to be great.”

Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel says the team that wins will be the one that executes.

“We've been pretty successful (against the Gamecocks), and this being my last year, there is a lot of intensity. It's a rivalry game, and not a lot has to be explained,” O’Daniel said. “There are going to be a lot of high emotions, but emotions don't win the game, executing the game plan and playing fast and physical do. The page is already turned. This game is over. On to the next one.”

Freshman running back Travis Etienne says he can’t wait to see what all the excitement is about.

“I’ve been hearing about it in the locker room since the game ended,” Etienne said. “They’ve been honing in on it and talking about it. We have to go out there and be our best because they’re going to come with a fight.”

Running back Tavien Feaster grew up in Spartanburg and considered going to South Carolina, so he knows what’s at stake.

“I’m really excited. I didn’t play that much last year so I’m excited to get my opportunity to play,” Feaster said. “I’ve been there. It’s really loud and it will get crazy but it’s just another place that we’ll go compete in.”

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