South Carolina State vs. Clemson Complete Game Preview
The Clemson Tigers will return to action this Saturday to take on the South Carolina State Bulldogs. The season opener left some Tigers fans in shock, but this week is an opportunity for Dabo Swinney and company to prove it was nothing more than a sloppy second-half performance.
The Tigers will look to get into the win column against a Bulldogs team that beat Benedict College 63-0 this past weekend. It was their seventh consecutive victory against Benedict, and now they will attempt to pull off an upset victory over Clemson.
South Carolina State's Keys to Victory
One way to score on a good defense is to keep them on the field for an extended amount of time. Either the backups will have to substitute in, or the starters will be tired, so long possessions can be costly at times.
In the Georgia game, the Tigers defense looked drained in the fourth quarter because of the amount of time spent on the field in the second half. If South Carolina State is going to put up points against this Clemson defense, they need to pick up key third downs and be able to sustain drives.
Get Pressure on the Quarterback
Getting pressure on Cole Stoudt will be another key for the Bulldogs. With the talent Stoudt has at wide receiver, they will need to try to pressure him into quick throws. If Clemson is able to throw the ball downfield, it will be hard for this South Carolina State defense to stay in the game.
We observed in the Georgia game that this Clemson offensive line has a few depth issues. Obviously, Georgia is more talented than South Carolina State on the defensive line, but you get the point. The only way the Bulldogs pull the upset is if they are able to attack the Tigers offensive line.
Clemson's Keys to Victory
Shore Up on Special Teams
Special teams isn’t going to be a deciding factor in a game like this, but bad special teams could keep the Bulldogs in the game early. Ammon Lakip wasn’t even close with his field-goal attempt last Saturday, so getting him into a rhythm could work wonders for his confidence moving forward.
Clemson also can’t allow big plays in the kickoff game. Todd Gurley is a special talent, so I don’t think kickoff coverage is a big issue. It’s worth mentioning, though, because Gurley went 100 yards untouched Saturday. Allowing South Carolina State to start with good field position could also keep the game close early.
Contain the Quarterback
Adrian Kollock Jr. went 15-of-18 passing in South Carolina State’s season opener, and he also added a 39-yard touchdown run. Stopping the quarterback from running has been an issue at times for Clemson over the past few seasons, so keeping him from breaking out will be a key.
The Tigers need to bring pressure but also be aware that Kollock can step up and take off with the ball.
Get the Offense in a Rhythm
This is the most important key because the Tigers will win big if the offense is rolling. Clemson wasn’t able to get into a rhythm against Georgia in the second half, so the big plays weren’t there either.
If Chad Morris’ group is able to get rolling early, it will allow opportunities to get the ball downfield.
South Carolina State Players to Watch
Adrian Kollock Jr., Quarterback
Like I mentioned earlier, this is a guy who can do damage if you overpursue on the blitz. He is capable of stepping up and running with the ball, so he will be a Bulldogs player to watch Saturday. The Tigers will be able to generate a ton of pressure from the front four, so it will be interesting to see how Kollock performs under pressure.
Alex Glover, Defensive End
Glover had a solid season opener with a sack and three tackles for loss. Depending on where he lines up, either Isaiah Battle or Joe Gore will have the important job of keeping Glover out of the pocket.
He is a player to watch because getting pressure on Stoudt is an important factor for the Bulldogs in this one.
Clemson Players to Watch
We didn’t see a ton of action from Gallman in the opener, but I expect him to be a major contributor in this game. He could be an important factor for the Tigers in Tallahassee and down the stretch, so getting him on the field in this one will be a good measuring stick of where he is in his development.
Getting the run game going early will allow the offense to take their shots down the field, so the running backs are all worth watching in this one. D.J. Howard started against Georgia, but it was obvious that the coaches feel most comfortable with C.J. Davidson carrying the ball. It will be interesting to see if Gallman can do enough in this one to earn the coaches’ trust down the stretch.
Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward
The Bulldogs had a solid rushing attack in Week 1, going for 381 yards against Benedict. South Carolina State will likely try to establish the run game early in this one, so the Clemson linebackers will need to have a good game.
Germone Hopper or Artavis Scott
Hopper is a player to watch here, because I’m interested to see how the coaches use him early on. The Tigers involved Hopper in the offense early against Georgia, and he went his way deep in the first quarter.
We have been talking about Mike Williams, Charone Peake and Adam Humphries stepping up as the No. 1 target for Stoudt, but maybe Hopper or Artavis Scott is that guy.
Scott showed that he has the talent to be on the field, even as a freshman. It should be fun to watch how Morris uses this pair in Saturday’s matchup.
What They're Saying
“You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you’re part of the problem, get gone. If you’re part of the solution, let’s get to work.” - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris on getting his offense back on track, Per David Hood of TigerNet.com
“It’s fixable, but we knew what we were getting when we came into this game. We’ve got to learn from it and get better.” - Senior Grady Jarrett talks about the next move for the defense, per Clemson Athletics.
South Carolina State Quotes
“We made a lot of mistakes. Our quarterback is young, he doesn’t take care of the football very well, but he’s learning, and he’ll be better next time.” - Coach Buddy Pough talking postgame about his young players and quarterback, per Worthy Evans for The State.
Clemson 47, South Carolina State 17
I think the Tigers just have too much in this one for South Carolina State. With the performance in the Georgia game still looming in the minds of Tigers fans, I think there will be an added attention to detail and extra motivation to play well in this game.
The defense should look like the defense we expected in 2014, and I think the offense will perform at a high level as well. The Tigers were able to beat South Carolina State 52-13 a year ago, and I think the results will be fairly similar in Saturday’s matchup.
South Carolina State will be able to get 17 on the board because of the play from the quarterback, but Clemson’s pass rush will force the Bulldogs into some costly turnovers. South Carolina State committed three turnovers in last year’s loss and was only able to manage 1.9 yards per rush against the Tigers' front seven.
The thing I am most excited about is the possibility of seeing Deshaun Watson play extended time in this one. We saw him in limited action Saturday, but it will be interesting to watch how he runs the offense in the second half.