September 6, 2013

Gameday Predition - Clemson vs. S.C. State

The Clemson Tigers have heard from the media about how great they are after beating Georgia 38-35, but if they want to be a contender, they will have to continue their success against teams of lesser quality.

That starts this weekend against FCS and in-state foe South Carolina State.

The goal for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is for his team to prepare the same way every week, have the same level of passion and intensity, focus on themselves and get better from week-to-week.

Can the Tigers play with the same intensity as they did against Georgia or will there be a hangover effect from the big win a week ago?

We’ll find out soon.


When South Carolina State has the ball
South Carolina State runs a hurry up, no huddle offense and likes to try to run at a fast tempo. The Bulldogs return seven starters on offense – two of which were selected as players of the week in the MEAC conference after the Bulldogs 27- 20 loss to Coastal Carolina last weekend. Senior wide receiver Tyler McDonald caught four passes for 108 yards and touchdown, including a long of 74 yards. Running back Justin Taylor carried the ball 24 times for 80 yards and a score. The Bulldogs return redshirt senior quarterback Richard Cue, who completed 13-of-23 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. Clemson’s very young secondary has the opportunity to grow up a little bit this weekend and gain some very valuable game experience before an off week and starting conference play in two weeks.

When Clemson has the ball
Offensively, the Tigers played relatively well in their first week of action. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins didn’t disappoint with six receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. However, the real story for the Clemson offense was senior running back Roderick McDowell who started his first game as a Tiger. McDowell carried the ball 22 times for 132 yards. This week, the Tigers need to find quarter back Tajh Boyd a second and third option at wide receiver. Charone Peake did an admiral job last week with five receptions for 58 yards; however, Martavis Bryant didn’t record a catch in the game. There were six drops by the wide receiver corps a week a go and if the Tigers are going to be successful that number must come down. South Carolina State’s defense should be used to the up-tempo offense since that is the style of offense that the Bulldogs run. Look for junior linebacker Justin Hughes to have a big impact on the running game. Hughes registered 9.5 tackles with a tackle for loss in game one.

Special teams
Sophomore punter Bradley Pinion had a tremendous performance a week ago with seven punts for an average of 41 yards per punt and seven kickoffs, all of which were touchbacks. Last season, Swinney said he was looking for Pinion to consistently kick the ball well. Can Pinion build off of his performance last weekend? Last Saturday, Clemson had a muffed punt and a bad read on a punt that almost lead to a Georgia touchdown. Can Clemson clean up its special teams blunders? South Carolina State also has a weapon at punter in senior Nick Belcher who had five punts with an average of 46 yards per punt. Belcher booted a 61-yard punt and pinned Coastal Carolina inside the 20-yard line three times last Saturday.

What will happen
South Carolina State has some good athletes – some of which were recruited by the Tigers; however, this game shouldn’t ever be in doubt. It will be interesting to see how long Boyd and the starting offense are on the field and if Swinney decides to pull his starter in the second half to give the younger players game experience. The Tigers aren’t going to hold the Bulldogs scoreless, but should be able to hold Cue and the Bulldogs’ offense in check. With an off week looming, the Tigers need to find consistency out of the wide receiver spot and find their best defensive backs before heading to N.C. State for a crucial Thursday night battle. On September 19th.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele.

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