Frisby's Corner: Week Eleven
Carolina vs. Clemson - The intensity of the rivalry is starting to sink in with coach Steve Spurrier. Coach still can't quite understand why fans would trade all our SEC victories for a win against Clemson, but he's getting there. As for now the "Head Ball Coach" sees this game as a means to an end. Clemson happens to be the last game on the 2006 football schedule. Clemson represents a win we must have to garner serious consideration to a reasonable bowl. The Tigers know all too well what happens to a team that falls out of grace with the "bowl gods". You may not receive a bowl bid, or worse. You may be banished to destinations such as Boise, Idaho for the holidays (ask Clemson)! Not necessarily what I call a reward for a good season. I'm quite sure coach doesn't want to be wearing any thermal clothing this bowl season, so it's simple mathematics for Coach Spurrier. CAROLINA WIN + CLEMSON LOSS = MID/MAJOR BOWL. So without further adieu, I will outline the reasons Carolina will defeat Clemson this Saturday afternoon:
LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE!
I believe Cory Boyd is back on track and ready to deliver an inspired rushing performance in Death Valley. We have not yet seen Mr. Boyd at his absolute best. We have observed him put together some spectacular moments in his career, but still not a defining game. Cory needs to look no further than across the field at "Superman" and "Flash" to obtain the required "chip on his shoulder" for this game. All the pressure is square on the "dynamic duo" (Davis and Spiller) for the Tigers. I hear Virginia Tech running back Brandon Ore has contacted Cory to give him a few tips on the Clemson defensive line.
Mike Davis was beginning to come out of hibernation right on cue to begin his late season push. Unfortunately, he has been slowed by a leg infection. He rested last week and all should be well for the Clemson game. Hopefully Mike will be able to give us some quality reps in relief of Boyd Saturday. He was able to put together a nice game against the Tigers last year.
I look for Bobby Wallace to be a trump card for the Gamecocks this weekend. I have been calling for this explosive back to be used in situations all season. Although we saw flashes vs. MTSU, Bobby is capable of breaking one off against any level of competition. Look for Wallace to get some reps this week. I would not be surprised to see Bobby in the slot on Saturday.
ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON (Spiller and Davis)
I dare Clemson to play Sidney Rice man to man! As a matter of fact, I double dare you! Of course they won't, and Sidney will see variations of a two deep zone all day long. Clemson does not have the athletes to enable them to cover Rice man-to-man. Any attempt to show man by Clemson will be a disguise to lure Blake Mitchell into making a bad read. Please be assured that Coach Spurrier is already designing and formulating his plan to shred this zone. I don't believe the Gamecocks will encounter any problems passing the ball against this suspect secondary.
Unlike earlier in the season, Blake Mitchell has a plethora of receiving targets to throw to, including Kenny McKinley, Mike West, Noah Whiteside, and an emerging threat in Freddie Brown, who has been pleasantly consistent. One of the mentioned targets, Kenny McKinley, reminds me more of Chansi Stuckey than Chansi himself. Kenny is a fearless competitor who has made a name for himself by making big catches over the middle. Any attempt to double or triple Sidney will result in an open Carolina receiver.
Mike West has shown an accelerated learning curve during year one of Spurrier receiving school. I can attest that this is not an easy offense to master. Mike is still having his problems, but he is growing more confident by the week. I look for some big receptions from West on Saturday.
Seems Coach is trying to work the tight ends back into his scheme at the right time. The use of the tight end by Spurrier expands his portfolio of unpredictable play calls. Andy Boyd has come up with some big receptions in the last two ball games. Look for all three TE's to be involved in the game plan this weekend.
Clemson has not shown much in the receiving department all year. Chansi Stuckey cannot be at all happy with his numbers this season and will be lucky to make All-Conference. Aaron Kelly seems to be comfortable in his role as the invisible man, and Tyler Grisham is ahhh Tyler Grisham. Jacoby Ford will be a viable threat when he learns to play the position correctly, which may still be a year off. Clemson falls miserably short in this category.
Is it even necessary for me to do a quarterback comparison???? I really do not wish to insult Blake Mitchell by making any comparison of him with Will Proctor. Obviously there is nothing to compare. Blake will spend late nights this week in his playbook while Will Proctor practices his handoffs.
However, I truly hope that Mr. Proctor will try to prove to Carolina this week that we are all mistaken and somehow we overlooked his magnificent arm and accurately thrown balls. Please Mr. Proctor, prove all of us doubters wrong.
I have a feeling we have not seen the last of Syvelle Newton on offense this year. I see Syvelle contributing on both sides of the ball on Saturday. Coach Spurrier will take full advantage of Syvelle's game breaking abilities.
If we had to compare offensive lines earlier this season, Clemson would definitely have a distinct advantage. However, when looking at whose line has improved more during the course of the season, the advantage shifts to Carolina. The Gamecocks have given up one sack since the return of Blake Mitchell in the Arkansas game. Carolina will have its hands full with defensive end Gaines Adams and a formidable D-Line on Saturday, but I sincerely believe they are up to the task. John Hunt will be schooling the line and working with the backs on picking up the blitz this week. Clemson's only hope will be to bring the house often. We'll be waiting.
Clemson, on the other hand, while not improving, has maintained the status quo. They are a solid run blocking team, who does a reasonably good job at pass protecting. However, the latter is not needed since they have a QB who can't pass. The Clemson O-Line will spend the week working on perfecting their zone blocking techniques. The Tigers will be depending solely on their run game.
ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON (slightly/ because of experience.)
We must limit third down conversions. It will be imperative to keep Clemson in third and 5, third and 6 situations. Third and longs have not been a friend to the Gamecocks this year. It has been a running joke in the press box that we would rather be in a 3rd and 2 situations than a 3rd and 12!
I'm sure Clemson will try to attack the areas that have proven to be weaknesses throughout the year. We have a problem keeping containment and letting opposing backs around the corners. We must keep Clemson running between the tackles. C.J. Spiller is definitely more effective on the outside; we cannot afford to give him the corner. James Davis is not Darren McFadden but he is a great runner. Tackling must be at a premium - no arm tackles, head in chest, and wrap up.
I'm sure coach Nix will walk the linebackers up to fill the box and force the pass. We will look for Proctor to utilize slants, out patterns, and drag the receiver or tight end over the middle (Yeah, they watched the Florida tape). Clemson will not have much of a downfield threat, even with Stuckey. Even so, expect Carolina to get physical with the Tiger receivers at the line of scrimmage. One of the secondary's biggest problems has been giving up too much cushion. We need to tighten up and let the safeties take over the top responsibility. I see some big interceptions if we play our cards right underneath.
I don't believe Clemson has any idea what they're in store for Saturday. I mentioned before that their only recourse is to bring the house and hope for the best. The Tigers have a quality D-Line. They will be hoping that their secondary can hold on long enough to allow them to get to the quarterback. Don't count on it.
ADVANTAGE: CAROLINA (Carolina defense has played better in big games despite losses.)
Coach Spurrier made some personnel changes in the secondary that seem to have peaked certain player's attention. Syvelle has been doing a fine job a safety, bringing much needed speed and timely tackling to that position. Captain Munnerlyn did a good job in his start in place of Carlos Thomas, but hopefully Thomas will pay more attention to detail when he gets his reps.
There seems to be no lingering effects from the Florida blocked kick fiasco? Unless Clemson recruits the center from the basketball team for this game, I don't see a problem. I'll take Succop over Dean any day of the week. Carolina does not have the greatest special teams, but they don't give up the big play.
I see Carolina and Clemson having problems with each other's offenses. We have been susceptible to the run, although we have been able to reasonably control it in big games. However, Clemson has been unable to stop the pass whatsoever this year, and they have been susceptible to the run when it counted (see Brandon Ore). I see both teams moving the ball between the 20-yard lines. The real test will be who bends and who breaks in the red zone. I believe Carolina will prove to have more offensive punch in the red zone. We have two team leaders in Blake Mitchell and Syvelle Newton, who fully believe in their abilities. Who is Clemson's team leader? I haven't seen one this year. The Tigers are good front-runners as long as everything is going their way. The Gamecocks have been clawing (pun intended) all year long. The rooster is crowing: It's time for CAROLINA FOOTBALL!!!!!
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