Venables says Gamecocks don't need the kitchen sink to beat Tigers


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Venables says the Gamecocks are talented enough to beat Clemson without trick plays.
Venables says the Gamecocks are talented enough to beat Clemson without trick plays.

CLEMSON – The South Carolina Gamecocks are 3-8 and many think the only way for the Tigers’ archrival to pull off the upset this Saturday is to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Tigers and hope for the best.

Brent Venables says the Gamecocks are talented enough that they don’t need the kitchen sink to beat the Tigers.

Clemson’s fourth-year defensive coordinator met with the media Tuesday in the WestZone, and Venables said the South Carolina offense is dangerous because of the different looks they give a defense.

“I think just through the years this offense has been built to be very multiple in how they attack you,” Venables said. “They can attack you vertically, in the run game, on the perimeter with the option game, the screen game. They called it the fun-n-gun at one time. I think part of that is letting the players be aggressive and attack you. I think the best offenses that are out there are the ones that have deception involved, as well.”

One school of thought is that the Gamecocks will have to rely on trick plays in order to move the ball, and Venables said he feels much better about defending trick plays after the Tigers intercepted a pass after a reverse against Wake Forest last weekend.

That’s something the Tigers prepared for.

“I feel much better going into this game. We probably won't stop much of that stuff - the trickery - but I feel like we have a good chance to only because we worked that reverse pass the other day,” he said. “Cordrea [Tankersley] picked it off. It never works that way for me. On Friday, we had to do it about four times over, and then they had all of these questions, and I'm like, 'Where were these questions all week?' As the play was getting ready to develop, we saw it on the sideline and we're like, 'Here, it is.'

“It was the plus-50. It was after a big play, so it was first-and-10 after a conversion within the drive, plus-50 and then they came out two-by-two. I was like, 'This is it!' It's that dream you're having that you want to talk and do and touch and you can't. You're tied and you're like, 'This is the play.' Cordrea played it beautifully. Everybody did. It was a very well-designed play that was wide open on tape [the week before], but thank God our guys were ready for it.”

South Carolina tried a trick play on a two-point conversion attempt against The Citadel last weekend. Quarterback Perry Orth threw a screen pass to left tackle Brandon Shell (who was tackle eligible on the play), but Shell was cut down short of the end zone.

“That one didn't work, so I'm counting on that one not being in the playbook,” Venables said with a laugh. “I was just watching that with Tim (Bourret). Tim was helping me draw up the defense. Those are all good plays, but they don't need all of that to line up and beat you, I'll say that.”

Venables said the fact that Orth is a walk-on doesn’t mean the first-year starter isn’t capable.

“Everybody's walk-on, fifth string guy is really good. I want that quarterback who was a linebacker in camp that became the starter in our game that throws the ball over his head right to Corey Crawford and we scoop it and score on the first play of the game,” Venables said, remembering Crawford’s return of Maryland linebacker-turned-quarterback Shawn Petty’s fumble in 2012. “I want to see that guy again. I did not feel bad at all. Perry is a good player. He's been well-schooled in that system and understands it and can throw it and can run it. He had a 65-yard quarterback draw against Texas A&M earlier in the year. I think that's the style. They'll run the speed option with him. “

The Gamecocks are likely to put dynamic wide receiver Pharoh Cooper in the wildcat, and Venables said Cooper is “a stud.”

“We just go into every week trying to figure out what is it that they do regardless of who's the quarterback. That's part of it, but there's been some issues at quarterback for a lot of the teams we've played in regards to flip flopping and things of that nature,” he said. “When Pharoh Cooper gets in there, he's incredibly dynamic - probably the most single dynamic player that we'll see all year. We've got great respect for him. What a workhorse. Just a stud. Great competitor. Highly skilled. A real tough guy. He really wears the toughness on his sleeves. I think if he had his way he'd play defense, too.

“I love how he plays the game, and he does it in a very unassuming way. We really have a lot of respect for him and his playmaking ability. He gets at quarterback and we're in Tampa 2 anticipating a throw, and we have it covered and he just puts it right where only one guy could catch it in the endzone. It was a terrific catch by the receiver but an even better throw by the quarterback. That's the kind of skill that he has and the confidence that they have in him. He scores down here early in the game and they go up 7-0 on a little designed quarterback run. Between him and Nunez, they have some dynamic playmakers that touch the ball often.”

Because of the formations and the dynamic players on the field, Venables said South Carolina is perfectly capable of lining up and beating the Tigers without the trick plays. Or the kitchen sink.

“I don't think they need the kitchen sink to beat us. I think we need to come out and play well - get off blocks, tackle, got to line up right, got to play with discipline, play with physical and mental toughness, and we've got to be ready to bring it for 60 minutes,” he said. “Those are the things that regardless of what they throw at us, I'll downplay that a little bit because there's simplicity in winning and losing. Hopefully, our guys are prepared to play with the discipline it takes whether it's the kitchen sink or the basic zone read with a pop pass off of it. You've got to have guys doing their job and if you do you'll play and if you don't they can have you on your heels real quick.”

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