Countdown to kickoff: Tigers take aim at turning tide against Gamecocks

Mark Crammer/Independent Mail
South Carolina Head coach Steve Spurrier, left, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney meet at midfield before their football game at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Nov. 30, 2013.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Mark Crammer/Independent Mail South Carolina Head coach Steve Spurrier, left, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney meet at midfield before their football game at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Nov. 30, 2013.

The countdown is on to Clemson football first in Athens (Georgia) and then back in TigerTown on Sept. 6 (S.C. State).

We’re counting down the Clemson schedule – by strength of schedule – with a quick profile, team I.D. and prediction.

We arrive at South Carolina, the game of interest this season as the rivalry returns to Death Valley. We’ve talked the keys to stopping the streak, but what’s Clemson up against?

Clemson Countdown to Kickoff

12) S.C. State

11) Georgia State

10) Wake Forest

9) N.C. State

8) Syracuse

7) Boston College

6) Georgia Tech

5) Louisville

4) North Carolina

3) South Carolina Gamecocks

Quick Profile

Plays Clemson: at Memorial Stadium, Nov. 29, time TBA.

2013 Record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC, second in the East Division).

Coach: Steve Spurrier (219-79 career record, 77-39 at USC).

Offense (2013 ranks): Multiple (Scoring offense: 31, 34.1 PPG; Yards per play: 22, 6.4; Field position advantage: 95).

Defense (2013 ranks): 4-2-5 (Def. yards per play: 60, 5.5; Scoring defense: 12, 20.3 PPG; 3rd down defense: 46, 37.4%).

Returning starters: Offense – 8; Defense – 6; Kickers – 2;

Key Returners

2,800-yard passer(s): N/A; 700-yard rushers/receivers returning: RB Mike Davis (1,183); 40 catches or more: N/A. 80 carries or more: RB Mike Davis (203); 5 sacks or more: N/A; 65 tackles or more: N/A; 8 TFL or more: N/A; 5 PBUs or more: N/A; 70% FG rate: Elliott Fry (83.3).

South Carolina Identity

1. Familiar face - Like their rivals upstate, the Gamecocks lose their winningest quarterback in school history, Connor Shaw (27), ushering in the Dylan Thompson era. While a few SEC schools will be getting to know the Boiling Springs product, Clemson knows full well what he’s capable of as a starter as a steady hand to the ship of the 2012 win in Death Valley – 23-of-41 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns, adding 38 rushing yards. Thompson has 14 career touchdown throws to five picks, averaging 8.4 yards per pass over 25 games. Shaw’s efficiency will be hard to match (41 TDs to 8 INTs as an upperclassman), but Thompson has shown flashes of being a problem for opposing defenses – and outside of Tiger-killer Bruce Ellington moving on to the next level (49 receptions/775 yards/8 TDs), Thompson has his options for capable targets.

2. Big things coming for Davis? - Former Tiger James Davis’ little brother, Mike, has had two very different seasons so far. The Stone Mountain (Ga.) product had just 13 carries in his first seven games in Columbia, but averaged eight per game to close the regular season for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, he hit triple-digits rushing seven of the first nine games (118 per contest), but finished the season averaging 42 yards and 3.4 yards per carry to total 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns (limited to 15 carries for 22 yards and a score against Clemson). With a sort of new QB, Davis should figure heavily into the Gamecocks’ gameplan (of course, he would anyway), and it only helps he and Thompson have as experienced an o-line as any in the country.

3. New look d-line - Much of the back-seven returns for South Carolina, but a few notable folks are missing from the d-line: one, a No. 1 NFL draft pick in end Jadeveon Clowney. Also gone is the man in the middle, Kelcy Quarles, who accounted for a team-best 13.5 tackles for loss. South Carolina has had a top-20 total and scoring defense each of the last three years, but that’ll be tough to repeat in year four.

(Way too early) South Carolina pick: 37-34 Tigers.

Analysis: Golden Nugget’s line has Clemson as a 3-point home dog to the Gamecocks, which in general associates to a 45 winning percentage for the team plus-points. That line will surely change in these next few months, but what likely won’t is the sides being even after South Carolina has made the necessary plays five seasons in a row. As we talked in the roundtable, it’s about finishing for Clemson and they should be on a roll and confident with the crowd behind them...but they have to win a fourth quarter for the first time in a longtime in this series. I think Stoudt’s the cool customer to make those clutch plays, but it comes down to turnovers, tempo control and making stops.

Next up: 2) Georgia Bulldogs – Clemson hits the road for its toughest opener…since the last time in Athens (2002, 31-28 loss). A different result in store?

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Comments » 10

robtthetiger44#293707 writes:

I hope they are 11 and 0 when they get to Death Valley 'cause they got no chance of "getting lucky" again. Wait and see what we put on them this year. It may be another 2003. Probably not.

TigerNE writes:

We did a very good job holding Davis down last year. To me the bigger factor to win will be for the team to not get into the same massive mistake making rut they have in the past. By the end of the season we'll either have a fully polished and calm leader in Stoudt or Watson with at least a few full games under his belt. I predict Stoudt will make it through the entire season, barring injuries of course.

robtthetiger44#293707 writes:

in response to TigerNE:

We did a very good job holding Davis down last year. To me the bigger factor to win will be for the team to not get into the same massive mistake making rut they have in the past. By the end of the season we'll either have a fully polished and calm leader in Stoudt or Watson with at least a few full games under his belt. I predict Stoudt will make it through the entire season, barring injuries of course.

I agree with what you said. I have been wondering about Stout and playing in the tough games. I think if he can hit a receiver open down field when we have a 4 touchdown lead, he can do the same in a tough, close game against any team. My problem is we have what everybody is saying is the best running and passing quarterback in the country sitting on the bench watching Stout play. Should we stick or even start Stout? I'm torn with this dilima, but think they will play the one that can win the game for us. Let's see how Stout does against GA in the first game. I think he is gonna surprise a lot of people with just how well he runs the offense. You gotta like having the best freshman quarterback in the country watching and waiting.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to robtthetiger44#293707:

I hope they are 11 and 0 when they get to Death Valley 'cause they got no chance of "getting lucky" again. Wait and see what we put on them this year. It may be another 2003. Probably not.

Robbie Tigger...you spit out so much manure, your eyes have to be dark brown. You've been talking your smack for several years now, and what keeps happening..you lose again to SC. You and others speak as though there is no talent at SC. Be advised, the talent level at SC is every bit as good as Clemmons, and the coaching talent is superior. Again, you best hope young Mr. Stoudt is better than his poppa...a whole bunch better. If not, it could be a much unexpected cold winter in Tiggertown. Mr. Rink, I totally disagree with you on your pick and the score. Clemmons couldn't score 37 on SC if they played the cheerleaders in the 4th quarter. SC's defense is going to be much better than you might think. Just keep in mind...a 6th straight year of uncooked crow isn't going to taste well

clemvol writes:

in response to TheTruth46:

Robbie Tigger...you spit out so much manure, your eyes have to be dark brown. You've been talking your smack for several years now, and what keeps happening..you lose again to SC. You and others speak as though there is no talent at SC. Be advised, the talent level at SC is every bit as good as Clemmons, and the coaching talent is superior. Again, you best hope young Mr. Stoudt is better than his poppa...a whole bunch better. If not, it could be a much unexpected cold winter in Tiggertown. Mr. Rink, I totally disagree with you on your pick and the score. Clemmons couldn't score 37 on SC if they played the cheerleaders in the 4th quarter. SC's defense is going to be much better than you might think. Just keep in mind...a 6th straight year of uncooked crow isn't going to taste well

Too bad I don't have time to respond to this, but another time, it's coming and you know it.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to clemvol:

Too bad I don't have time to respond to this, but another time, it's coming and you know it.

Clemmervile...you are at the very bottom of the list of my concerns and worries. Give it your best shot, if possible. You can join Robbie Tigger.

lhaselden writes:

TheTruth46 cannot handle the TRUTH!
For the first time in 5 years Clemson has the best DLine in our context, probably the best LBs....Secondary may be even, we will know soon. We can check our D's stats in Athens against your D's stats against UGa in Columbia!
I expect your O to post more points in a friendly environment that we do in Athens.

33dtb writes:

Carolina will never get a 6-peat, let alone match our TWO............

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to 33dtb:

Carolina will never get a 6-peat, let alone match our TWO............

Yeah, that's pretty much guaranteed now given that we don't play the Tarheels every year anymore.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to lhaselden:

TheTruth46 cannot handle the TRUTH!
For the first time in 5 years Clemson has the best DLine in our context, probably the best LBs....Secondary may be even, we will know soon. We can check our D's stats in Athens against your D's stats against UGa in Columbia!
I expect your O to post more points in a friendly environment that we do in Athens.

We shall see. We hear all this bragging and rhetoric every year about this time concerning how great Clemmons is going to be. Don't be surprised or upset if you get blistered again in November, For Tigger95, that's a cute remark. Kind of like USC being in California. That being the case in your eyes, maybe you better find out who that team is in Columbia that keeps kicking your rear ends every November.

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