It's rivalry week and Clemson vs South Carolina is a little over 48 hours away. South Carolina comes in with a three-game win streak over Clemson. Today, we take a look at the questions we have for Clemson going into this game.
Tajh Boyd is poised to be the leader the Tigers need Saturday night.
1- Can Clemson stop the South Carolina pass rush?
Clemson ranks 59th in sacks allowed at 1.82 per game. For Clemson it's not been against any defensive lines like South Carolina brings except Florida State. The Gamecocks will likely play the "rabbit" defense made famous by the New York Giants. The "rabbit" defense is four defensive ends as down linemen.
Jadaveon Clowney is injured but will play. Something tells me he'll be more ready to go than some fans may think. LSU was successful running right at Clowney. The bayou Tigers beat up Clowney and ultimately Spurrier had to pull Clowney out as he was ineffective.
Clemson has to keep the pressure off quarterback Tajh Boyd or it could be a long night for the Tigers. Gamecock defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will bring pressure from all sides to keep Boyd off balance. But, if Ward moves the wrong piece at the wrong time he will see #6, #2, #1, #19 or #80 running wild through the Gamecock defense.
2- Can Clemson win the turnover battle?
Easy to say that right? It's this simple; if Clemson turns the ball over and gives South Carolina a short field it will be a long night. At times Tajh Boyd tries to force the ball. Saturday night the passing lanes get smaller and the action will be faster. Boyd has been a great leader for eleven games. Can he take Clemson to the finish line 11-1?
3- Can Clemson get running back Andre Ellington going?
Clemson doesn't need a career game from Ellington Saturday night. What Clemson needs is for Ellington to be effective enough to keep the Gamecock defense off balance.
Corey Crawford and the Clemson defensive line will need to get after South Carolina's quarterback(s)
Equally important is that Ellington is effective in the screen game. There will be times Tajh Boyd will need to get rid of the ball quickly when the Gamecock pressure comes. If Ellington is as good as he's been all year; Clemson has a great chance of taking down the Gamecocks.
4- Will the Clemson secondary play solid?
You can't underscore this enough. South Carolina doesn't bring Mike Glennon to the table as quarterback but what they do bring is a savvy head coach who knows how to make you pay for not playing fundamentally sound in the secondary. Keep an eye on the matchup of Gamecock tight end Justice Cunningham and wide receiver Ace Sanders Saturday night. Limit these two guys receptions and South Carolina is in trouble.
5- Can Clemson shake the Gamecock off their back?
Ordinarily this game isn't a a defining moment. Lets face it though Clemson needs to win this game. By one point or twenty. The Tigers have been embarrassed by the Gamecocks three straight years. You don't have to tell anyone at the West Endzone how important this game is. A loss would put an awful end to a good season. A win puts an exclamation point on a great season.