Keys to victory against Clemson

GamecockAnthem.com takes a look at South Carolina's five keys to victory when the Gamecocks play host to arch-rival Clemson on Saturday evening.


I. Come out Firing

The Gamecocks have not scored first since the UNC game, and it has killed them during their four game skid. Spurrier's offense is at its best when the Head Ball Coach can be balanced and has his whole playbook to work with. That simply doesn't happen when the Gamecocks go down two scores early. There also may be some question as to how well Clemson can bounce back from such a heartbreaking loss just a week ago. By no means do I believe Clemson won't show up, because they always show up for the Gamecocks, but an early score or big play could put some doubt in the Tigers' minds. The early lead would also allow Spurrier to get the ball in Cory Boyd's hands. Boyd will undoubtedly be emotional in what will be his last game in Williams-Brice stadium and should touch the ball at least 25 times if the Gamecocks hope to win.


II. Keep Mitchell off the Ground

The USC offensive line will have its hands full keeping Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp out of the backfield. Spurrier will have to keep Clemson's athletic defensive line off balance early by using screens, draws, and even running directly at Sapp on occasion. Look for USC to use two tight end sets with Andy Boyd helping out in pass protection and Jared Cook split out wide. This should give USC its best combination of blockers and playmakers with Kenny McKinley and Dion Lecorn at receiver. Lanard Stafford's play could be a huge role as well as the veteran fullback has been good in pass protection out of the I-formation and on plays where the tailback motions out of the backfield.


III. Limit the Big Plays

Most of Clemson's scores in last year's contest came from big plays from C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford, and the Clemson defense. If South Carolina can play well up front, pressure Harper, and keep Clemson's playmakers from breaking the big play they will give their offense a chance. That will be easier said than done, as the defense has had trouble staying in their lanes in the past. Clemson has no doubt seen the film and will use some elements in their offense Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana-Lafayette were so successful with. Also don't be surprised to see Spiller and James Davis in the backfield together to take the direct snap. The defense will need to play disciplined and not miss tackles.


IV. Don't Turn the Ball Over

USC should be able to move the ball against Clemson's defense, but can't afford to turn the ball over as they did last season against the Tigers. Two of Blake Mitchell's three first half interceptions were not his fault, but the Gamecocks can't afford to have such misfortune if they're going to beat the Tigers two times in a row since '69 and '70.


V. Physical Play from the Corners

With Captain Munnerlyn out, USC will need big time play from starters Addison Williams and Stoney Woodson. Williams is small in stature, but brings some of the same physical qualities to the table Munnerlyn does. Carlos Thomas will also need to come up big off the bench. Thomas showed up and played well against Clemson last year, even getting in the head of Clemson receiver Chansi Stuckey. A big part of Clemson's offense is their assortment of bubble screens that can kill a defense if the unit doesn't come up and attack them. South Carolina's corners will have to step their game up and come up and make the tackle in order to slow Clemson's offense.


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