Press Conference Recap: Carolina vs. Clemson

It’s that time of the year again, folks. It’s starting to get a little cooler, the turkey is going in the oven (or fryer), and Carolina is gearing up to deal with that team from the upstate. The Battle for the Palmetto State is upon us again, and you can bet the HBC knows it.

Coach Spurrier has a 5 game winning streak over Clemson. “[It’s the]biggest game of the year, probably for both teams. We’re looking forward to going up there.” The HBC has good reason to be excited. The Gamecocks have been outstanding against Clemson under Spurrier. 6-3 with the Gamecocks in his 9 years calling the shots at Carolina, Spurrier hasn’t just won the last 5 — he’s dominated. The combined score of the last 5 meetings has been 155-71. The Tigers haven’t scored more than 17 points in any game against Carolina since 2009. “That was the game Spiller ran the opening kickoff back. But our defense has played well. We need them to play well to have a chance in this game.”

The defense has been the shining star against Clemson in recent years, but hasn’t been great this year. “We’ve been better the last two games…we stopped the run, stopped the pass…but we really have to play well to have a chance,” Spurrier said. The Gamecock defense, the focal point of criticism on the team this year, has allowed multiple last quarter comebacks this year. The Tigers will present the Gamecocks with a challenge they haven’t faced most of the year—a pocket passing quarterback. “We just have to prepare like we always do,” defensive captain J.T. Surratt said. “As a team, our whole focus is getting better.” When asked about the team preparation, Surratt simply grinned and said, “It’s Clemson, man.”

Coach Spurrier also noted that the Clemson defense was much better than they had been in the past. “[They] are one of the best defenses in the nation…I think they have four seniors up front. They have 4 seniors up front, they move around a lot. I think Brent Venables will probably be the best assistant coach in the nation, once they give that [award] out.” Spurrier also noted that the Tigers have been able to shut down most of the offenses they’ve played, with the exception of Georgia Tech.

Shaq Roland | 2013 CU at SC

The Tigers will have the home field advantage, but that hasn’t been a factor recently. The Gamecocks have a 37:20 TOP against Clemson per game: Clemson hasn’t had the ball in any of the last 5 contests for more that 25:17. “We’re focused on this team…I don’t care how we go up there and get a win, as long as we get a win,” senior quarterback Dylan Thompson said. Thompson is currently only 200 yards passing from breaking Todd Ellis’ single season passing record. Two years ago, Thompson punished the Tigers in his starting debut. “I don’t think about that game much, I’m a different player,” Thompson said, “I’m better.” Senior guard A.J. Cann echoed Thompson’s statements, “It feels good to have beat them 5 times…but we’re both different teams.” Cann is a first team All-American selection and a probable early draft choice.

One thing is for sure: rivalry week is alive and kicking in South Carolina.

The Gamecocks face the Tigers Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at noon on ESPN.

Connor McLaurin, FB | 2013 CU at SC

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