November 27, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. South Carolina

It’s here. The game that can make or break a season according to the fans.

It’s Clemson and South Carolina.

It’s rivalry week.

KICKOFF: 12:01 P.M.

The Gamecocks’ offense begins and ends with Mr. Do Everything Pharoh Cooper, who plays wide receiver, running back and quarterback. Cooper is one of the few bright spots for a South Carolina offense that’s 101st (358.5 yards per game) nationally in total offense, 92nd in rushing offense (152.27 ypg), 86th in passing offense (206.3 ypg) and 110th in scoring offense with just 21 points per game.

Copper has caught 62 passes for 887 yards and six touchdowns, rushed for 126 yards and five scores and has completed two passes for 11 yards. In addition to Cooper, the Gamecocks have running back Brandon Wilds (120-573), tight end Jerrell Adams (28-421) and quarterback Perry Orth, who has completed 130-of 233 for 1,710 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Clemson’s defense will need to commit most of its resources to stopping the run and force Orth to throw the ball. That will leave Mackensie Alexander and Cordrea Tankersley on an island to defend Cooper and Deebo Samuel – who can be a deep-threat when healthy. The key for defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd will be setting the edge. Don’t let, Wilds, Cooper, Orth, David Williams or Shon Carson get to the edge for big chunks of yards. Linebackers Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson need to play with good gap integrity to stuff the run up the middle.

Clemson’s defense had a “Come to Jesus meeting,” in the words of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, after the Syracuse game, so that unit should be primed and focused Saturday afternoon.

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. SOUTH CAROLINA DEFENSE: Running back Wayne Gallman made a name for himself during last year’s rivalry contest rushing for 191 yards and a touchdown. Gallman, Artavis Scott and Deshaun Watson made a living on the perimeter in last year’s contest, and I expect them to do the same this year. Much of the South Carolina’s 2014 defense is back, with the most experience and dangerous being linebacker Skai Moore. South Carolina ranks 41st against the pass and 113th against the rush, giving Clemson plenty of options on offense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: If there’s one area South Carolina may have an advantage it’s on special teams. The Gamecocks’ Shon Carson is decent on kick return, but Cooper can take a punt to the house at any moment. Sean Kelly is the Gamecock’s punter and is averaging 43.7 yards, while kicker Elliott Fry is 19-of-26 on field goals.

Clemson’s best weapon on special teams is kicker Greg Huegel who is 20-of-22 on field goals and was perfect in ACC play. Can he continue his streak of perfection on the road against an SEC foe?

Can Clemson avoid a meltdown on special teams and not allow South Carolina to get momentum?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: We’ve heard all week that South Carolina intends to pull out all of the stops and throw the proverbial kitchen sink at Clemson. Fake punts, fake field goals, going for it on fourth down, trick plays – if you can think of it they will do it. Clemson will need to keep its guard up the entire game and expect the unexpected, but at the end of the day Clemson’s talent will win out IF they don’t turn the ball over.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

November 20, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Wake Forest

Enjoy every second of Saturday’s game against Wake Forest because it will be the last time you see this group of young men don the tiger paw in Death Valley.

It’s the last time you’ll see Zac Brooks, Eric Mac Lain, Joe Gore, Ryan Norton, Charone Peake, D.J. Reader, and several other Clemson players. Enjoy what a special season 2015 has been one last time in Memorial Stadium.

While you’re enjoying Senior Day, don’t forget to stop for a second and pay homage to the men and women who have sacrificed for our country and the reason why Clemson’s football stadium is named Memorial Stadium.

KICKOFF: 3:30 P.M.

Clemson’s defense has struggled over the last three weeks, particularly with the running game. Did defensive coordinator Brent Venables do enough to get their attention? Can they get back to form against one of the worst offenses in the country? The Demon Deacons are 112th nationally in total offense (339 ypg), 119th in scoring offense (17.5 ppg), 121st in rushing offense (a paltry 111.10 yards per game) and 59th in passing offense at 228 yards per game. Wake Forest has played two quarterbacks – sophomore John Wolford and freshman Kendall Hinton – but neither has found a ton of success because of the offensive line. Will we see more of the shift Hinton on Saturday?

In addition to all of the seniors playing their last game, this could be the final home game for defensive end Shaq Lawson, safety Jayron Kearse, and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. All three will be crucial to Clemson’s success Saturday and over the next two-plus games.

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. WAKE FOREST DEFENSE: Clemson’s offense has been on a roll over the last five weeks with a punishing running game and an air-raid attack led by quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson continues to move up the Heisman boards and has multiple 400-yard games on the season. This week I expect Clemson to get back to the running game, which they got away from at times last week against Syracuse; however, I also expect to see senior Zac Brooks tote the rock a good bit on Saturday with starter Wayne Gallman nursing a sprained ankle.

Wake Forest brings in a top 25 defense led by senior linebacker Brandon Chubb, however Clemson has had success against the top defenses is the country. Just ask Boston College, N.C. State and Florida State.

SPECIAL TEAMS: I’m pretty sure I’ve written something similar in this space each week. Greg Huegel continues to impress as a walk-on kicker and is perfect in ACC play, but outside of his performance Clemson’s special teams have been average at best. Kickoff coverage continues to be a disaster and the Tigers have to find an answer on kickoff or punt return. Wake Forest brings in punter Alex Kinal, who leads the nation in career punts, and a kicker in Mike Weaver is 11-of-17 on field goals.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Wake Forest is coming to Clemson thinking they have a chance to win and treating it as their own National Championship game, but unfortunately for the Demon Deacons talent and the emotion of Senior Day will win out. Clemson’s defense will start playing like the unit we saw over the course of the first seven games, while the offense will continue to roll.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

November 13, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Syracuse

The Clemson Tigers (9-0 overall, 6-0 ACC) are in a New York State of Mind as they go on the road to take on a struggling Syracuse team.

Can the Tigers handle the Carrier Dome and avoid an emotional let down and claim their fifth consecutive 10-win season?

KICKOFF: 3:30 P.M.

Clemson’s defense gave up 194 yards to Dalvin Cook – one of the country’s top running backs – last week; however, they essentially shut him down in the second half. Syracuse won’t present near the challenge that Florida State did a week ago, especially without starting quarterback Eric Dungey. Zack Mahoney – who is 25-of-50 for 217 yards, four touchdowns and an interception – will start in his place. Mahoney’s top target will undoubtedly be Steve Ismael who has 30 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns. Jordan Fredericks is the Orange’s leading rusher with 82 carries for 426 yards.

The big question for Syracuse is can they give their young quarterback time to throw the ball or open up holes for Fredericks? The way Clemson’s defensive line and linebackers have played recently, the answer will be no.

Clemson’s is as balanced an offense as you will find in the country and is averaging 488 yards of total offense, despite playing four of the top 25 defenses in the country. Wayne Gallman has 977 yards and should break the 1,000 yard mark Saturday afternoon, while quarterback Deshaun Watson will be looking to break the 500 yard mark.

Outside of the first half against Florida State, Deshaun Watson has been almost spectacular his season, and he may just have the chance to put up Heisman worthy numbers Saturday as Syracuse gives up almost 275 yards per game through the air – 111th in the country. However, he will need to find his accuracy on the long ball again if Clemson wants to have the explosive plays.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Outside of place kicker Greg Huegel who is 13-for-13 in ACC play, Clemson’s special teams has been average at best. Punter Andy Teasdall has been inconsistent. The kickoff coverage unit has struggled when Ammon Lakip doesn’t kick the ball into the endzone, and the return games have been almost non-existent. For Syracuse, Riley Dixon is averaging almost 44 yards per punt, while Ryan Norton handles kickoffs and hasn’t allowed a return in 21-of-46 attempts. At punt return, Brisley Estime has two touchdowns in 14 attempts.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: As much as this has the look and feel of a trap game with Clemson coming off of the emotional win over Florida State and already having the ACC Atlantic wrapped up, I just don’t think Syracuse has the Jimmys and the Joes to keep this one close. It may be close for a quarter, but the Tigers’ talent wins out. Syracuse will have a couple of big plays on special teams…..


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

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