We haven't done so as much this year, but, as some of you remember, we often do Q&A's with opponents' blogs as part of of preview series for each week's game. This being rivalry week and thus the season's biggest game, it's only fitting that we got together with the fine SBN Clemson blog Shakin the Southland. Those of you who have read STS know that they do a great job; their authors know as much about football tactics and strategy as anyone you'll find on the web. You'll find plenty of Carolina hating over there, too, but that's only fitting for this great rivalry. So, without further ado, let's take a look at what they have to say. STS's answers are in bold. My answers to their questions are here.
1. Although it's only become a glaring problem over the last few games, Clemson's offensive line has been its major offensive weakness this year. What is wrong with the line--injuries, all-around poor personnel, coaching, or something else? Any chance they get it together this weekend?
3. Sammy Watkins has been one of the country's most phenomenal players and is a shoe-in for all sorts of freshman honors. Talk about what he means to the team, and whether he'll be a difference-maker if he returns this week.
4. CU's defense has struggled a bit in recent weeks, particularly against run-first, zone-read-based offenses with mobile QBs. Why is that the case, and how do you see CU's defense doing against Connor Shaw?
The LBs aren't the only group to blame here though, as the DL hasn't done a good job of setting the edge and the DBs haven't done a good job of getting off blocks or making tackles. The entire defense looks to throw a shoulder into their man rather than sticking their facemask in their chest and wrapping up. It's been a very frustrating year defensively and Kevin Steele is taking a lot of well deserved criticism.
This game is huge. HUGE. There are many factors that come into play here, both for the program, fans, and media. This program needs to shake the stigma that they collapse every year and can't be taken seriously. 10 wins have eluded this program for 20 years, so getting there against our biggest rival would be enormous. A win over a quality SEC opponent on the road is sure to garner some positive limelight from the media, which certainly helps in recruiting.
Dabo cannot afford to lose 3 in a row to USC. 2 in a row caused an uproar, but 3 in a row would cause seismic reactions.
Lastly, a win helps build some momentum going into the ACC championship. Clemson isn't good enough to turn it on/off just like that. Therefore, we need to regain some of our lost swagger or else we'll be in trouble facing the Va Tech/UVA winner.
All that talk about how big this game is, yet I'm not optimistic Clemson can turn it around. We seem lost right now. If Phillip Price and Sammy Watkins are able to go and are close to 100% that would certainly help. I think the offense will be able to move the ball again, mainly through the air, and put up some points on USC's defense. I just don't trust our defense enough to get the necessary stops. I think USC will kill us on the ground, just as everyone else has. The fact that it is a night game in Columbia doesn't help ease the pressure off of these players either.
I've got USC winning by 10....31-21.