Clemson rolls into Columbia on Saturday looking to put the finishing touches on a second consecutive undefeated regular season. In their way, the Hated instate Gamecocks of South Carolina. A wounded bird is awaiting the Tigers as they arrive to Williams Brice Stadium for the 12 o’clock high noon nationally televised kickoff.
Coach Will Muschamp’s 2019 version of the Gamecocks did not pan out as the prognosticators and the South Carolina fanbase had wished. A team that faced a daunting schedule and lost its 4 year starting QB in game one of the season. A team that was expected to be very competitive against that schedule, instead the Gamecocks have succumbed to said schedule and limp in to this “Rivalry” game at 4-7 over all and 3-5 in the SEC. Clemson on the other hand is the defending National Champions and ride a 26 game winning streak into this contest looking to extend that to 27 and also six (6) straight over the Gamecocks. The series which is dominated by the Tigers is currently sitting at 70-42-4… And as things look coming into this years Palmetto Bowl, the Tigers looks to add to these totals.
“Leave No Doubt”… You will hear this throughout the day from Clemson fans and pundits and even the team and coaches… This Clemson team has been on a mission since the near loss at UNC. The Tigers are showing no mercy even to the most modest of opponents.. On this day after last season where the Gamecocks racked up over 600 yards and 35 points on Brent Venables defense…Add to that it’s the hated Gamecocks the arch rival and well let’s just say I would not want to be the Freshman quarterback Hillinski when he sees the most exotic blitz packages he’s ever faced… Add tot that a huge dose of Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. It will be a long day for the home team’s offense.
South Carolina comes in missing not only the senior QB, but also looks like their top player WR Bryan Edwards may sit this one out too. Add to that this team that was unable to muster any sort of rushing attack recently, rushing for only 40 plus rushing yards in the their past two contest’. South Carolina Offensive Coordinator Bryan McClendon and the Gamecocks are desperate to find any kind of identity offensively and you can expect them to throw out the playbook… Look for a plethora of trick plays and odd formations hoping to confuse the Tigers. This will be the Gamecocks only chance on this date is to surprise the Tigers with formations and plays that they have not seen on film or prepared for here. Expect Coach Will Muschamp and company to throw caution to the wind, look for them to come out and play with reckless abandon… that is until the adrenaline of the start of the game wears out and the talent on the field supersedes that brief burst energy and optimism .
Both fans bases will be at fever pitch come 12PM tomorrow and the stadium will be full to the rafters and rocking to the sounds of sandstorm and crowing chickens… all that is cute until the Tigers take the oxygen out of the stadium and send the hometown feathered fan base home early for Thanksgiving leftovers …as the the Tigers pick the Yard Bird out of their teeth. And leave a mess of feathers and a beatdown in Columbia as they continue leaving teams in the wake of their goal of getting to defend their National Title in the College Football Playoffs..
When SC has the Ball:
Look for the Gamecocks to play musical QB’s on this evening as the Tigers expect to see both Ryan Hillinski and Dakereon Joyner on this afternoon. South Carolina is expected to have packages specifically designed for Joyner and look for some “trickeration” to be engineered into these “packages” . The Cocks top WR Edwards is a doubtful to play as of this writing on the evening before, but who knows. Without him the Cocks will look to Shi Smith to find open spaces against the possibly best back seven in the nation. Good luck finding those spaces if the Tigers are not preoccupied dealing with Edwards.
The Gamecocks run game has been anemic at best as of late and this does not bode well going against a Clemson defensive front that has gotten more confident and nastier as this season has progressed. This version of Brent Venables Defense is able to create its own mismatches with Isaiah Simmons wreaking havoc all over the field. The Cocks will excite the crowd with a play here or there and may even string a couple drives together.. But look for the Tigers to try and set an example real fast after last seasons game, they won’t be having any of that.. Another team gets held to less than 300 yards of total offense as the Tigers literally strangle the life from the Gamecocks offense by the time this one is over.
When Clemson Has the Ball:
Clemson offensively is on fire here at the end of the season. The Tigers seem to be peaking at just the right time as they have the ACC Championship upcoming in a week, and are hoping for a playoff bid to defend their title. But Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins, Travis Etienne and crew are “firing on all cylinders” to coin a phrase. The Gamecocks defense is the strength of their team… But the Tigers present just too many issues for this rag tag unit to cover up. Again it’s about the talent and how long the Gamecocks can sustain as the Tigers sub in and out all day .This depth issue especially shows up in the defensive backfield..where South Carolina is vulnerable to being burned over the top and in the flats. This Gamecock team has had big issue with zone read QB’s, and as we all know Lawrence as has proven this season he is a threat to pull it and run at anytime. Then there is the aforementioned Etienne and Higgins and crew… folks no way around it… this one gets ugly by the end. Gamecocks will be flopping all over the field from exhaustion and the occasional “Lobster” or fake injury as the depth and the frequency of the Clemson offense on the field this day will wilt the Gamecock defenders by mid 3rd quarter. Clemson QB Lawrence will toss 3 TD’s and run for another, Higgins will be on the other side of at least 2 of those and Etienne will break the all time ACC TD record on this day as he gets 150 plus and 2 Td’s of his own.
SC: Punter: Joseph Charlton Averages 48 yards per kick, continuing the ongoing trend of Clemson facing literal “Ray Guy” candidates on a weekly basis going back at least 2 seasons it seems at times. The Gamecocks PK is Parker White and he is a solid 17/21 on the season and is perfect on all 25 of his extra point attempts.
Clemson: PK BT Potter is 9/15 with a long of 51 and Senior Punter Will Spiers is averaging 42.6 yards a boot.
CLEMSON 56 South Carolina 13