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

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