Clemson Will Look To Slow Down Rice
When Steve Spurrier was hired as the head coach at South Carolina, everyone instantly knew there would be a drastic change in philosophy from Lou Holtz. It was not clear what weapons Spurrier would have at his disposal to run his spread offense. After Troy Williamson opted to leave for the NFL, it became more uncertain.
No one could have imagined what South Carolina had in redshirt freshman Sydney Rice. Rice was not highly recruited out of high school, in fact Clemson did not offer Rice. Clemson had received verbal commitments from La’Donte Harris, Aaron Kelly, and Mike McIntosh. Had the Tigers known what would come of McIntosh, they would have offered Rice.
Rice spent last season redshirting after being set back by injuries. Rice missed the season opener against Central Florida, but he wasted little time getting back into the mix against Georgia. Rice had his first touchdown called back by a penalty. It was clear from the moment Rice stepped on the field he was sophomore quarterback Blake Mitchell’s favorite target.
The two have connected for 51 times for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns. Rice has carried the South Carolina offense during their five game winning streak, and the key to stopping South Carolina lies in stopping Rice.
Without Syvelle Newton, South Carolina has received very little contribution from anyone else on offense, which is indicative of their 105th ranking in total offense. Clemson’s gameplan on defense will likely look similar to that versus Georgia Tech and Florida State.
South Carolina uses Rice in a lot of the same ways Georgia Tech uses Calvin Johnson and Florida State uses Gregg Carr. Clemson senior cornerback Tye Hill will draw Rice. Hill will have help on the deep balls, but it is Hill’s responsibility to prevent Rice from breaking the big play on a slant or a screen.
The slants and screens is where Florida cornerback Dee Webb had trouble stopping Rice.
Rice has had a breakout season, and he will clearly be the target of Koenning’s defense this week. Koenning’s defense has done a good job a slowing down primary targets such as Greg Olsen and Calvin Johnson this season, and Clemson will hope the trend continues with Rice.