Dan Scott Preview & Prediction

CLEMSON - Don't know if anyone else is keeping score or not, but last week made twice in a row I missed picking the exact score by just four points.

Probably doesn't matter much, but with my track record it's wise to enjoy the small victories.

Anyway, this week the Tigers host Division I-AA South Carolina State. Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Death Valley. And with that, here we go:

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. SCSU DEFENSE
This side of the ball looked sluggish again vs. N.C. State last week. And really, with the offensive line issues facing Clemson, it shouldn't be much of a surprise. That's why this week is so important. While you don't want to outright say you're looking past SCSU, the reality of the situation is simple. While the Tigers are obviously going to play to win, the coaching staff also knows it needs to see much improvement in this game, and then in practice next week, if it has any hopes of living up to conference expectations beginning the following Saturday. The coaching staff has been driving the offensive line hard all week. And as they go, so will the skill players. The guess here is the sense of urgency is understood.

ADVANTAGE - CLEMSON

SCSU OFFENSE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSE
Really, much the same goes on this side of the ball. The defensive coaches, especially, have been hard on the front seven this week. Tommy Bowden himself said after Monday's practice the lack of aggression is still troubling. No big collisions. None. Couple that with poor tackling fundamentals, and you get a performance that would have cost the Tigers big time had N.C. State not been so offensively anemic. Even with the inexperience, there's still too much talent here. All they have to do is add fundamentals and desire to the mix. Which is sometimes easier said than done. But they will Saturday. Or at least, they should.

ADVANTAGE - CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS
Anybody notice the special teams play? The punt protection? The punt and kickoff coverage? Tyler Grisham performing like a madman? Has this unit, finally, turned into a Clemson strength? Maybe too soon to say as much, but they've been awfully good so far.

ADVANTAGE - CLEMSON

COACHING/INTANGIBLES
Talking with Tommy Bowden a couple of different times this week I get the sense that he's fed up. It would appear, at least according to what several players are saying, that he is driving his assistant coaches very hard. And that, in turn, trickles down to the players. I get the sense everyone, from the top down, is tired of talking about Alabama and the ensuing problems. And maybe with the determination will come confidence.

ADVANTAGE - CLEMSON

BOTTOM LINE
S.C. State has some fine athletes, several of whom were seriously recruited by both Clemson and South Carolina. But let's face it. They don't have enough. Even with the issues facing the Tigers, the home team should win this one easily.

If they don't, look out.

THE PICK: Clemson 48, SCSU 13

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