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South Carolina Gamecocks at Clemson Tigers preview: Q&A with Shakin the Southland

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We chat about Deshaun Watson, the Clemson defense, and more in this edition of Crossing Enemy Lines.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

I got together to chat with one of our fine furry friends over at Shakin the Southland. Read on to see what STS's Brian Goodison had to say in response to my questions.

1. Do you think Deshaun Watson will play against Carolina? If so, will his mobility be limited? If Watson can't go or, say, is reinjured early in the game, how much does that effect your confidence that Clemson will win this game?

Deshaun Watson determines if Clemson wins this game and it isn't an exaggeration. Cole Stoudt was mentally broken in the Georgia game and has gotten worse as the season continues. The Georgia Tech loss was horrible and unusual, but with Stoudt we barely beat Louisville, Syracuse, and Boston College. Watson practiced with a green jersey on Monday, but I have a hard time seeing him play in this one. But if he does, I would expect him to sit in the pocket more than normal, at least if Morris doesn't go full stupid on us.

2. Carolina's defense has struggled a great deal this season. The Gamecocks' secondary is decent but remains young and prone to mistakes, and although lineup changes at linebacker in recent weeks have helped the run defense, on the whole it's been a train wreck all season, especially against mobile quarterbacks and wildcat packages. Obviously the Watson situation means there's some uncertainty for the CU offense heading into the game, but what are Clemson's offensive strengths, and how do you foresee Clemson attacking Carolina?

The real strength, ignoring Watson, is at receiver. Mike Williams, Germone Hopper, and Artavis Scott are all talented receivers that can burn you with speed as well as make some fantastic catches. Regardless of the QB Morris, is going to get the ball into their hands as often as possible, especially on screen passes. From there it is all about these guys making a play.

You'll also see a lot of Tyshon Dye in this one. Even though Clemson's OL does a fantastic impression of traffic cones, Dye has the ability to get some yards. Though he only has one full game as a rusher this season, against Georgia State, he's a solid back and can take a few hits. Hopefully some of the things we saw with vision and yards after contact continue against y'all.

Outside of that, it is just sitting and hoping Watson can play so we can open up the deep threat and really any other threat.

3. Obviously, Brent Venables has built a stellar defense at Clemson. What's more, Clemson seems to have some of the same defensive weapons that helped Missouri and Florida shut down a Carolina offense that has generally moved the ball with ease all season: a pass rush that can rattle Dylan Thompson and a defensive interior that can shut down Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. How do you see Clemson's defense comparing to what Mizzou and Florida have? What weaknesses could Carolina exploit, if any?

Honestly I think this will be the best defense South Carolina sees all year. Mizzou is above average, but nothing special as I like to point out to my friends in St. Louis. Florida definitely has a good defense, but just going based on total defense they are 10th and we are 1st. The big key for us is Grady Jarrett. A lof of y'all have probably heard of Vic Beasley, who is an excellent player and certainly makes the headlines, but Clemson's ability to stop the run as well as get Beasley free comes because of Jarrett. Just by himself he prevents any runs up the middle. Our depth on the DL also makes us unusual. We have 8 guys that can play at an extremely high level and it prevents a real dropoff as we substitute to keep players fresh.

I think you have to attack Clemson with the pass. Georgia had success running because of Todd Gurley being an athletic freak and a few suspensions on defense. Georgia Tech did it with the nonsense triple option and our inability to do anything on offense. If I'm Spurrier, I challenge the Clemson DBs who are very talented, but have given up some big plays. You still have to run to keep us honest, but if you can force Clemson into putting 8 in the box, it will give you some good opportunities for Thompson to air it out. Then the only question is if he's good enough to make Clemson pay. Thompson can also do some damage with his feet. Running QBs have seen a bit of success this year against us by dropping back and then taking off. Sometimes we over pursue on the edges leaving the middle of the field open, but I don't know if it is enough to beat us unless you can also throw the ball well.

4. If you could have any player on Carolina's roster, who would it be? Why?

I would take anyone on your OL. I don't care who it is, how good or bad they are, even if they are scholarship or walk-on. Our OL is terrible and we could use at least 1 competent player to help protect the QB and maybe run the ball.