Facing the Spurrier gang

Up last in our five-part series of the toughest challenges for the Clemson defense in 2014 is South Carolina.

The departures of Connor Shaw and Bruce Ellington should be reason enough for Clemson fans to feel good about this year's end of season showdown.

In three games against the Tigers, Ellington caught 14 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

Shaw completed 28 of 46 passes for 362 yards with four touchdowns in two games against Clemson. He also rushed 43 times for 201 yards and two scores.

Dylan Thompson is set to take over the reins at quarterback with Shaw now working alongside Johnny Football for the Browns. Thompson is experienced, confident and led the Gamecocks to a win in Clemson two years ago, so the stage won't be too big for him.

The South Carolina running back stable is loaded. Led by Mike Davis, who rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, the group also includes Brandon Wilds and David Williams.

Despite the loss of Ellington, it would appear that Shaq Roland is primed for a big-time season in 2014. Nine of his 25 catches last season came against Clemson and Wisconsin in the bowl game. He also had 152 yards and a score during those two matchups.

Pharoh Cooper and Damiere Byrd are also back, so are Nick Jones, K.J. Brent and Shamier Jeffery. Freshman Shaq Davidson will also be in the mix if he doesn't take a redshirt this fall.

All three tight ends are back for 2013, and it's a dynamic group of playmakers. Rory Anderson caught 17 passes for 235 yards. Jerrell Adams had 13 receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Drew Owens caught two passes.

Clemson fans are very well-aware of the success South Carolina has had along the offensive line since Shawn Elliott took over as the position coach. A.J. Cann leads the group from the left guard spot, but there's plenty of experience with Corey Robinson, Cody Waldrop, Mike Matulis and Brandon Shell.

Then, of course, there's the guy who orchestrates it all, Steve Spurrier. As long as he's calling the shots at South Carolina, it's a safe bet that he'll give any Clemson defensive coordinator fits, just like he's done to the last two.

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