Pass-happy Tigers?

CLEMSON - Wide receivers coach Jeff Scott doesn't put too much stock into the numbers that the South Carolina secondary has allowed through 11 games this season.

The No. 17 Gamecocks rank 87th in pass efficiency defense with a 136.93 rating and 104th in pass defense (250.6 yards per game).

"When you study their defense and their defensive backs, really, some of those numbers can be inflated, maybe because of some big plays," he said.

Looks like another case of coach speak.

"Really, they've played pretty sound," Scott said. "They've had a few busts— that's whenever they've kind of gotten beat on some big plays. Overall, they're sound, physical—very athletic. It's not like you turn on the video and see a bunch of wide-open passes all over the place."

Coach speak it is, because there's been plenty of damage inflicted upon the South Carolina secondary, which has allowed five 300-yard games this season:

Southern Miss- 337
Alabama- 315
Kentucky- 349
Tennessee- 312
Arkansas- 303

It doesn't necessarily equate to a favorable matchup for the Clemson passing game, which has also struggled.

Most figured the Tigers would have trouble finding a rhythm with the departures of Jacoby Ford, Michael Palmer and C.J. Spiller—all of whom have scored a touchdown in the NFL this year.

For the majority of the season, Clemson has looked to a nucleus of young wide receivers.

DeAndre Hopkins leads the team with 36 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns.

Jaron Brown is fourth on the team with 25 receptions, third with 356 yards and tied for first with three touchdowns.

Bryce McNeal, who missed last week's game, but is expected to play this week, has 19 catches for 187 yards.

"Our guys are getting better and making plays," Scott said. "I was proud of the guys last week. I thought they stepped up and made some plays that definitely affected the outcome of the game."

At times, it's been a struggle—but there have been signs of improvement.

After going-straight without at least 200 yards through the air, Clemson has put together three-straight 200-yard performances:

N.C. State- 214
Florida State- 239
Wake Forest- 231

Led by cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Scott said South Carolina's secondary is active.

"When you turn on the video, 95 percent of the time, they're contesting everything," Scott said. "You've got to work for everything you can get."

The group is banged up, though.

Gilmore suffered a mild-concussion last weekend against Troy, but is expected to play. Marty MarkettChris Culliver's replacement—is day-to-day with a sprained MCL.

Something's got to give.

Clemson must have success through the air since South Carolina's stingy run defense giving up an average of 96 yards.

If not, it could be a long day with a lot of short-lived drives. Top Stories