Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! One thing I'm certainly thankful for is you. This blog is a great hobby that provides me with lots of joy, and it couldn't be done without the great community you fine folks contribute to. So Cheers! to all of you, and I hope you enjoy a lovely day of celebration with your family and friends.
All of that said, let's move on to discussing the USC offensive-CU defensive matchups. If you want some stats that suggest what the Gamecocks need to do in this game, look no further than this: Wake Forest is 99th in the country in rushing yards with 116 per game, while Maryland is 49th with 166 per game. Against Clemson, they ran for 145 and 291 (!) yards, respectively. I'm not even going to bring up Georgia Tech here.
Clemson has had some relatively good performances against the run, too, but these performances each show you that a team that's determined to establish the run against the Tigers can do so. The defensive line play is only a bit better than average, and the linebacker play is very poor. The Tigers have been especially vulnerable against teams with mobile QBs, like Maryland and GT. They had no answer for Maryland's use of the zone-read; UM QB Chris Brown racked up over 150 yards on the ground against the Tigers.
That's where we come in. The Gamecocks looked very good running the zone read during the UT-UA-UF stretch. If we come out and establish the run out of the zone read, we should be able to move the ball. We'll also keep Clemson's offense off the field for extended periods of time, which will be a plus against an offense based on rhythm and wearing out the defense.
There's been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth over our inability to establish a solid downfield passing game, and I'll admit that I feel it to, if only because it's such a shame that we have one of the best WRs in the nation and he isn't going to win any awards because we can't get him the ball deep. However, what we did against Florida in the first half was pretty darn effective, and if we can do it to Florida, we can probably do it to Clemmy twice over. And, if you noticed, after we established the run in the first half, Shaw had more time to throw in the second. If we can keep the game close or, better yet, build a decent lead throughout the first half by keeping it on the ground, we might see our offense really open up in the second half.