September 5, 2014

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. S.C. State

The boys are back in town.

Clemson fans have waited since last November to once again converge on Death Valley and see their Tigers rub the rock and run down the hill.


It’s time.

Saturday’s matchup against South Carolina St. isn’t sexy and won’t come down to the final play. However, it is a critical game to get the team prepared for what lies ahead in the ACC.

What should Clemson fans want to see out of the Clemson Tigers? Let’s take a look.


*PUT THE GEORGIA LOSS TO BED – The week one loss at Georgia was devastating to coaches, players and fans, but it wasn’t the fact that Clemson lost but rather how they lost. The Tigers and Bulldogs were locked in a battle for the ages until 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and then it seemed Georgia became the more physical and mentally tough team and simply took control. Dabo Swinney’s team needs to come out Saturday and get off to a quick start both offensively and defensively and make the most of the one and only tune up game before the Tigers travel to Tallahassee to face Jameis Winston and the defending national champion Seminoles.

– There wasn’t a lot of news coming out of Clemson’s fall camp, but what little we did hear was how impressive the freshmen performed in the weeks leading up to the Georgia game. Now the media and fans want to see what the freshmen can do on the field. The running game struggled mightily in the second half against Georgia, so it’s time to see what redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman and freshman Adam Choice can do coming out of the backfield. With the loss of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant at the wide receiver position, Clemson seemed to miss the speedy receiver and the deep threat last week. Can freshmen wideouts Artavis Scott and Demarre Kitt make an immediate impact? Clemson needs to make a splash on special teams with a threat on punt returns. Can Mackensie Alexander be that guy?

– Late in the game against Georgia both the offensive and defensive lines got pushed around at the point of attack. On the offensive side of the ball, line coach Robbie Caldwell needs to find his best starting five – something that should be a little easier with the return of David Beasley, who was suspended for the opener. Defensively, the line should also be a little more stable with the return of senior defensive end Corey Crawford, who was also suspended last week. Both lines were supposed to be just as good, if not better than they were in 2013. Now, they need to show their improvement.

*DEVELOP AN OFFENSIVE IDENTITY – During the first three years of offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ tenure at Clemson, the Tigers were a pass-first offense. Nobody could blame Morris for that philosophy because anyone in the country would follow suit with stars like Watkins, Bryant, Tajh Boyd, Nuk Hopkins and Jaron Brown. However, those guys are gone in 2014. Morris said that he wants to employ a smash mouth spread style of offense with a physical run game, but when it got down to crunch time in Athens last week, Morris went away from the running game, even after the ran for 102 yards on 31 carries in the first half.

*SPECIAL TEAMS – Special teams in Clemson need to become special again and proved once again to be huge in Clemson’s loss to Georgia. A missed field goal and a kickoff return for a touchdown were the turning points in the game. Can Ammon Lakip can overcome missing his first kick as a starter and become the consistent, reliable kicker that Clemson needs? Can Clemson get its first kickoff return or punt return since 2011? Will T.J. Green and C.J. Davidson continue to be a threat at kickoff return? Will Mackensie Alexander get a chance at punt return?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN – Saturday’s game against South Carolina State is a chance for Clemson to right all of the wrongs that occurred last weekend and fix some of the mistakes that ultimately led to the Tigers downfall. I expect Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson to almost split time at quarterback and have several different combinations of weapons at their disposal. Ultimately, I expect the Clemson coaches to use this time to find the best group to put on the field in two weeks at Florida State to give the Tigers their best chance to upset the No. 1 ranked Seminoles.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele

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