Coach's Corner: Preparing for a Blood Feud

Coach Jim Carlen talks about moving past the Florida loss and preparing for Clemson is his weekly chat with Doug Jolley this week. He sees Carolina as being ten points better than the Tigers, but doesn't discount their motivation of playing for a bowl and their interim coach Dabo Sweeney. Read inside to see why he likes the Gamecocks in the annual in-state blood feud.

On the loss to Florida: There's no way to explain the game. Sometimes you just get caught, and everything falls flat. It goes back to Florida's speed. I am not surprised them beating us two or three touchdowns. It snowballed based on the first 15 minutes, we were behind 21-0 before we knew what happened. Florida proved again their exceptional foot speed, and their quarterback Tebow is a tremendous football player. We're not good enough to compete with them right now. I don't mean to hurt people's feelings, but we aren't. The blinding speed that they have is the difference.

I thought our defensive kids played pretty courageous, but you've got to match up. Players win games, not coaches. We are moving up a little bit at South Carolina, but we have the quarterback situation, and they were just too quick for us.

Steve's national championship down there was not so much on speed, he was so far ahead with the quarterback play he had. He had a zone throwing attack, and they were way ahead of everybody else.

On preparing your team after a loss like this: You just tell them it happened. Sometimes it is easier to swallow a big loss than a game you lose close. You put the films away. You correct individually, but you don't as a team show them they got beat 56-6 again. It could have been 20 more points. You don't dwell on that. You just say we got beat by a better football team, and we did. They didn't take any prisoners with Georgia either.

On Clemson: Spiller is healthy again and gained over 100 yards against Duke, that will make a difference. Clemson struggled the most when Spiller was injured. They are fighting for a bowl game, we have ours secured. I think they are probably better than they were at the beginning of the season. They are still struggling to prove themselves, even this late in the year. They have a lot of good football players. Korn looks like a player.

The key is for our quarterbacks not to make mistakes, because our running back situation is limited. I'm sure Steve is looking for some real outstanding running backs to come in and play as freshmen. Our receivers are getting better, even including McKinley. I think it will be a real good ball game. Playing at Clemson may help them a little, but I think the whole show will come down to our defense making plays. I'd have to pick Carolina, I think we're probably ten points better right now. Dabo Sweeney will have them pumped up as they try to overcome the thus far horrible experience they've had this year,a dn the players like him. We have just one game to regret.

On a playoff: I'm in favor of a Four Team playoff. Play two games, the winners of the first play for the national championship. I think they should spread it around, where they play the championship in a different place. You still need bowl games. People need a reward for having a good year. Florida; Texas; Texas Tech. I'm undecided on fourth team, Alabama is overrated, and they haven't played a real tough schedule. LSU had every chance to beat them and they don't have a quarterback. I can't find my fourth team, it's not Alabama.

I haven't seen Southern Cal play this year, and they usually have the players to compete for it. I would like to have seen Penn State be able to compete, but I don't believe they have the speed to be able to compete with the other three. Joe Paterno and I became head coaches on the exact same day in 1966 – me at West Virginia and him at Penn State, where he had been an assistant coach for 12 years.

When I went out to watch Texas play Texas Tech, Texas Tech throws the ball all over the field, I mean everywhere. Big ol' linemen keep people from getting to the passer, excellent receivers, they have been at it a long time getting to that point. But give Steve the players, and he will have an offense again that looks that impressive.

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