Tonight, our beloved Tigers attempt to win the program’s 4th straight ACC Championship in football. If that should happen, it would be a major accomplishment. Winning tonight would certainly lead to a 4th straight selection to the College Football Playoff. That is also a major accomplishment. We just beat our hated rival by three TDs to win our 5th straight over them. That hasn’t been done in any of our lifetimes. So are we a spoiled fanbase? No, I don’t think so.
I think the reason some fans briefly “felt like it was a loss” last week was because they weren’t properly prepared. We should know that just a hint of a good performance, not a win, was going pull Cockfan out of the woodwork. Tiger fans saw one little “#2 my ass” comment from a Gamecock, and being unprepared, they got their feelings hurt. Folks, I’m hear to tell you that if that happens, it’s on you. These guys are bringing a knife to a gun fight here.
You know their routine already. It’s deflect, deflect, SEC, deflect. If this bothers you, you don’t get mad at Dabo. You remind Cockfan of the ass-kicking they just took. Ok, Jake Bentley had a good game. He’s also 0-3 vs. Clemson and headed straight for a “Reverse Whitehurst” next year. Maybe we should give him the “Best Loser” Trophy so Gamecock can win something. If Cockfan says “#2 my ass,” you remind them that the only time they’re ever going to see #2 is in the ice maker at their stadium. C’mon guys and gals, this is candy from a baby.
In all seriousness though, we’ve got conference championship weekend this week, so we’ll have meaningful football on all day. Of course, this will be the last day of meaningful college football until December 29th, so we better enjoy it. We probably won’t know who’s going to get that #4 spot until tomorrow, but we could know 3 of the 4 playoff teams by 11pm. We know Notre Dame is in as either the #2 or #3 spot depending on what happens in our game.
12:00, SECN Alt, Akron at South Carolina
12:00, ABC, #14 Texas vs. #5 Oklahoma
3:30, ABC, Memphis vs. #8 UCF
4:00, CBS, #4 Georgia vs. #1 Alabama
8:00, ABC, Pitt vs. #2 Clemson
8:00. FOX, #21 Northwestern vs. #6 Ohio St.
Clemson vs. Pitt
Pitt is an interesting team to me because, stylistically, they are pretty much what I envisioned a successful Clemson program might look like in 2008. Based on the offensive personnel we had at the time, multiple hybrid TEs/Hs on the field, we would bring a commitment to a downhill rushing attack like we had in the 1980s. On defense, they are very aggressive, a lot like the style Coach Venables uses right now.
Offensively, Pitt has a good OL that is possibly a touch overrated based on all of the All ACC selections. I guess we’ll see about that tonight. They definitely want to overpower the defensive front and run the football. They have two good RBs. They are listed at the same weight, but Ollison has the “big back” role and Hall is the change of pace guy.
The QB, Pickett, is similar to Kelly Bryant in the way that he needs the running game to open up the passing game. He is not as good of a runner as Bryant (or passer), but he can get first downs with his legs.
Pitt has shown that they are feast or famine on both sides of the ball. I’m hoping for famine tonight. No team has been able to run on us yet, so I have to doubt that it happens tonight. If they can’t run the ball, that’s the key to a famine game for them offensively. I expect us to come out and commit to stopping the run and to see if Pickett can beat us with his arm. If he can do that, they could hang around for a while.
Defensively, they are a havoc-style defense like us, so it will be important that we pick up the blitzes up front and that Trevor Lawrence makes good decisions. This will be a good test for Lawrence. In the way that BC confused him for a bit, Pitt will certainly try to do the same. They forced Ian Book of Notre Dame into throwing a couple INTs that helped keep the game close.
The key to the game should be whether or not we can get chunk yardage with Etienne and the RBs. Because they are aggressive, if we get RBs to the 2nd level, they will be one missed tackle away from a big gainer. If we can run consistently on them, and I think there’s a good chance we can, it’s possible we can run away from them before halftime.
They do have a very good kicker, but hopefully the game isn’t close enough to where that factors in. They also have a good Kick Returner, so hopefully Potter is launching touchbacks.
In the 2016 game that they won, their OC at the time, Matt Canada, found a slight schematic/discipline flaw in our defense and exploited it with the TE shovel option play. I expect them to have some special plays cooked up for us tonight, although it’s anybody’s guess what those might be.
I do think South Carolina threw out a nice little blueprint last week and I expect to see 3 receivers to the boundary side and, sometime within the first 10 plays, the dreaded slot post. They absolutely have to check the oil there and hopefully we have fixed that in practice this week. If we haven’t, I might need to log off due to the large amount of expletives I will be dropping in the gamethread.