By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
Steve Spurrier left no cause to comb between the lines during his weekly teleconference today kicking off game week with Clemson.
Though South Carolina has won the last four games with the bitter state rivals and 17 straight at Williams-Brice Stadium, he was highly complimentary, remarking that the Clemson defense was obviously improved under Brent Venables and comparing Tajh Boyd to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Having both teams ranked top 10 this week should be a source of prestige, he said. Clemson was No. 4 in the coaches’ poll and No. 6 in the media poll, South Carolina 9 and 10.
“We’ve got two teams in the top 10 that started the season there and are still there after 11 games, so I know our state is proud of the two football schools,” he said. “I think it just adds to some recognition for our state that both of our universities are pretty good in football and they emphasize football, and we’re trying to be the best we can be.”
Keeping Clemson’s prolific offense off the field seemed to be the obvious thread in Carolina’s four-game win-streak over Clemson, he said. “You look at all four of the games, our offense has moved the ball pretty well and stayed on the field,” he said. “Hopefully it will happen again.
“When you play against an offense that is really good like theirs, you hope not to give them but so many possessions. You hope. Everybody hopes that, but doing it is a different thing.”
Spurrier said Venables’ impact in two seasons was noticeable.
“I think Clemson’s defense is much improved over the last two years,” he said. “They’re a tough defense, definitely, probably a little better than last year and the year before. Brent Venables does a super job, and they get the ball back for their offense. Hopefully we can stay out there a bit. It would be very helpful.”
Pressuring Boyd would be a key, he said.
“All quarterbacks don’t like pressure. If you give him time and there’s nobody in his face, the good ones will pick you apart, which he can do,” Spurrier said. “He’s a good runner, too.
“To me, he’s a lot like Cam Newton,” he said. “You do the best you can, you try to get pressure on him, you mix up your coverages a bit, and do those kinds of things to offset really good quarterbacks.”
Three key players rested Saturday during the Gamecocks’ 70-10 win over Coastal Carolina –Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcey Quarles and Mike Davis – are hopeful, he said.
Quarterback Connor Shaw, who did not play in last season’s game, played only three possessions. With the win last week, Shaw became the winningest quarterback in Gamecock history.
The four seniors, winners of a school record 40, will be recognized in their final home game. Spurrier has encouraged juniors Clowney and Quarles to participate, implying it may be their final game at Williams-Brice Stadium. “We’re going to parade about seven out there, the guys we think that are leaving.”
Spurrier said that while the rankings add another dimension to the game, it probably does not influence the intensity.
“It’s another game. It’s a big game. It’s our in-state rival,” he said.
“Should be a heck of a game.”