Sports

Palmetto Football Fans Should Simmer Down

BOTH MAJOR PROGRAMS APPEAR TO BE IN REBUILDING YEARS By WILL FOLKS  ||  I don’t have to wait until Monday morning to “quarterback” this … because it’s obvious: Both the University of South Carolina and its arch-rival Clemson are in rebuilding years. And there’s a lot more work to be…

BOTH MAJOR PROGRAMS APPEAR TO BE IN REBUILDING YEARS

sic speakingBy WILL FOLKS  ||  I don’t have to wait until Monday morning to “quarterback” this … because it’s obvious: Both the University of South Carolina and its arch-rival Clemson are in rebuilding years.

And there’s a lot more work to be done than anyone could have ever imagined …

After finishing the 2013 season ranked No. 4 and No. 7, respectively, the Gamecocks and Tigers have emphatically answered the offseason question of how key personnel losses would impact their 2014 campaigns (I’m referring of course to the departure of superstars like Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd and Connor Shaw – as well as other key contributors like Bruce Ellington and Kelcy Quarles from the Gamecocks and kicker Chandler Catanzaro for Clemson).

The only problem?  The answer has been emphatically bad .

Both Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks (3-1, 2-1 SEC) and Dabo Swinney‘s Tigers (1-2, 0-1 ACC) are struggling – not struggling to match  the lofty heights both programs have reached over the last three seasons, but struggling merely to approach such rarified air.

Entering its game against Vanderbilt last week, Gamecock coordinator Lorenzo Ward‘s defensive unit ranked last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense, total defense, passing defense and rushing defense.  That’s right: Dead last … in every single category .

How did Ward’s unit “redeem” itself?  By surrendering 379 yards and 20 points to friggin’ Vanderbilt, which was within a score of the Gamecocks with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Yeah …

Down in Tallahassee Clemson had a golden opportunity to defeat No. 1 Florida State – which was playing without defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.  Even after a pair of missed field goals and a botched snap killed promising drives, Clemson was still in a position to end the Seminoles’ eighteen-game winning streak.

But when it mattered most they fell apart on both sides of the football – prompting the national press to remark that Clemson had just, well, “Clemsoned.”

According to The Washington Post (yes, The Washington Post ), in fact, “Clemson’s ‘Clemsoning’ was the most ‘Clemsoning’ Clemson ever Clemsoned.”

Ouch …

Twitter was not your friend this weekend, Tiger fans.  Not even a little bit.

Fortunately for Swinney, his squad can comfort itself with forthcoming matchups against North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Georgia State.  In fact Spurrier’s Gamecocks are the only ranked team remaining on Clemson’s schedule.

South Carolina has a relatively mild schedule ahead of it too, with only one of its remaining games coming against a ranked opponent (on the road Oct. 25 against fifth-ranked Auburn).

That’s a good thing, too, because let’s be honest: Neither of these programs are ready for prime time.  At all.

And that’s okay …

Over the last three years the Palmetto State has seen its two major collegiate programs win a combined 65 games and send all sorts of elite talent to the National Football League.  South Carolina has been ranked in the Top 25 for sixty-nine straight polls dating back to 2010, and Clemson’s streak of fifty straight polls was only broken this week.

That’s not an easy level of accomplishment to maintain – and there will be years when the talent level drops off at certain key positions (as it has clearly done this year for both squads).

The challenge is to keep succeeding on the recruiting trail while reworking offensive and defensive systems that maximize the talent that’s available.  It’s also important to remember that as recently as 2010, eight or nine wins wasn’t considered “settling” – it was viewed as a damn good season.

Bottom line? While Clemson fans are bearing the lion’s (or Tiger’s) share of derision so far this season, neither squad has distinguished itself.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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24 comments

TontoBubbaGoldstein September 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Sheeeeeet.

Clemson outplayed FSU (#1) in Tallahassee and hung with Georgia(#12) for 3 and a half quarters Between the Hedges. Hell, considering we had them at home last year and on the road this year, TBG thinks Clemson looks better</i. than last year…
Y'all got beat by a very good A&M (#6) team in the opening game of the season and followed that with wins over Georgia(#12) and a currently ranked East Carolina(#23) team.
TBG figures both Clemson and Sakerlina are legit top 15 teams and if either or both catch a couple breaks they could wind up in the Top Ten again at the end of the year. The only thing that sucks is that neither have much of a shot at even winning their conference
division…just like last year.

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Mike at the Beach September 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Whatever gets your head onto the pillow, mi amigo… ;-)

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a face in the crowd September 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Don’t forget that Clemson caught the break of a lifetime against FSU: The Noles started a QB who has no business playing Division I football. Toward the end of the first half, it was clear the FSU players, coaches and fans were prepared to lose. Clemson simply could not capitalize. No excuses for that loss.

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Scrappy September 22, 2014 at 9:49 am

FSU has a habit of recruiting scrubbs don’t they? McQuire was a 4 star quarterback and in the top 20 of pro style QB’s coming out of HS and the number 1 player in NJ.. Safe to say he could start at Sakerlina.

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a face in the crowd September 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

And how many schools recruited him?

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CL September 22, 2014 at 10:55 am

That 4 star rating was from ESPN, which is a joke as far as its ratings*. Rivals and 247 both had him as a 3 star. 247 had him as the 14th best player in NJ, Rivals as the 26th best. Maguire only had 2 other scholarship offers, and those were from BC and Buffalo.

The comparison to Thompson was meant as a jab, but it is actually on point. Maguire looks like a developmental guy the coaches at a particular school thought they could coach up.

* ESPN said Brian Maddox was a 5 star RB. I am no expert, but I could have told them that rating was ridiculous at the time. I wonder if they even watched any film on him to come to that conclusion or just perused the first 30 seconds of his highlight reel.

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resarch is key, unless..... September 22, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Scrappy doesn’t do actual research, he just posts what ever BS was written on Tigernet like its factual. I wonder what chant sheets they are working on now?

CL September 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

Clemson’s front 7 is solid. If you paired this defense with their 2011 offense, you might have a NC contender. The problem is that Watkins was to CU’s offense what Clowney was to SC’s defense last year. The offense is not nearly as potent, and I suspect Clemson would lose 5 games this year if they played an SEC schedule. However, I do think Clemson will beat SC this year.

SC’s defense has gone into a free fall. There are major talent deficiencies at DE (I do not think SC has a single SEC caliber DE at the moment), CB (the issue here is more youth than talent, but the results look the same either way), and safety (although this position would rise to mediocre if Williams were able to move back from CB). The linebackers and defensive tackles and are just okay, and not nearly talented enough to make up for the personnel issues at these positions.

With that defense, SC needs the offense to score just about every time to beat good teams on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, Dylan Thompson gets too “hyped” (charitable view) or “jittery” (more likely view) to start games, particularly on the road, and SOS seems unwilling to try to establish the run early to help DT settle down. Given all that, I would expect Clemson to win, and possibly win big if SC turns the ball over.

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SC Political Digest September 21, 2014 at 8:45 pm

SC will be fine. The game vs Vandy was better than they have been in the past. That was a TOUGH loss for Clemson. They’ll still be OK. That QB looked good for a frosh.

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idcydm September 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

LOL…”We have 2 pieces up at SCPSD that probably reflect a better analysis than this.”…probably…don’t you know?

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SC Political Digest September 22, 2014 at 6:48 am

It’s subjective. It’s impossible to KNOW in a subjective case…(read it, and let me know what you think.)

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TontoBubbaGoldstein September 22, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Holy Acronyms, Batman!

GT’s constant hawking of SCPSD is exacerbating TBG’s PTSD.

Save us CNSYD!

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Same ol' Same ol' September 21, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Dabo: note to recruiters, find me a damn kicker.
End of story.

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Torch September 22, 2014 at 8:40 am

There is a kid at his back door in Walhalla that kicked one 57 yards.

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Same ol' Same ol' September 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm

And that rant inc ad that keeps showing up is very distracting…almost reminds me of Fits past. Ah, the good ol’ days.

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Thomas September 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm

You are not far from the truth, Fits. Real talk: student athletes are bailing out in their juniors years to play in the NFL. MLB is also stripping baseball teams of good players before their seniors years. To be a member of an NFL practice squad pays over 300k a year! Money talks and student athletes are walking away.

For this reason, it is silly not to play true freshmen. The good ones are gone after three years in college football. That new league Boyd is joining up with? Colleges will soon be competing for players as the new league develops players over 18. Look at the money schools get. Start up leagues for 18-22 yo’s with a paychecks can compete with college athletic programs.

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sparklecity September 22, 2014 at 12:13 am

“Clemson and South Carolina sending talent to the NFL”…>>>>>>Where they hone their skills at beating the shit out of women, creating other felonies and can expect a good chance of brain damage due to multiple hits and being lucky to last an average of 5 years in their profession before selling cars on “Happy Sam’s Car lot”.

Boy, that’s something to be proud of…………

Anything past high school football is nothing but bread and circus to the masses (and I’m having my doubts about high school football as well come to think of it)

As far as I’m concerned football can be eliminated as as sport unless you want them to be gladiators (which in reality is what they are).

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Smirks September 22, 2014 at 9:14 am Reply
sparkywoods September 22, 2014 at 7:55 am

actually, carolina wasnt very good last year and they finished #4 and beat 2 teams that won BCS bowls after beating the 3-time defending big ten champ in a bowl. the only reason carolina is winning is because of spurrier’s mojo.(and your dumb ass wanted him fired.) these teams, even with their record wins and poll placements are slightly better than those old lou holtz teams that never beat tennesse or florida. and despite the fact that carolina is not very impressive,they have still beat clemson and georgia 9 of the last 10 games. you know what, fatass fits, youre a fuckin bandwagon fan and please dont tell me youre a real carolina fan just because you went to carolina. you went to carolina because you werent either smart enough or rich enough to go anywhere better. your dumb opinions are like this new iteration of idiotic spoiled carolina fans, who cant seem to remember the years after joe morrison or even the 0-21 streak capped off by lou holtz’s inaugural 0-11 campaign. are you really complaining about being 3-1 and ranked with 3 very winnable sec games in a row coming up and that carolna can still lose another sec game to auburn and very likely still make it to the SEC championship? you shouldve written this piece but begged liz gunn to stick her name on it.

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Toyota Kawaski September 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

Yea Spurrier played a real good game Saturday. U are dumb as Fits. Keep looosing games at VMI.

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shifty henry September 22, 2014 at 8:14 am Reply
Timmy Tebow September 22, 2014 at 9:13 am

my gawd, that’s still awful!

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Toyota Kawaski September 22, 2014 at 8:50 am

STFU fits you freeloading sucking off Daddys free tickets. You dont give one dime to I Plow Ten Acres Ah Year or the GCC. Stick to wearing Hockey Sweaters you dam closet Clempson fan. If i see you on the west side by an ice machine talikng on your cell phone I promice you are going in the ice machine. Have Mr. Bell with camera ready.

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Timmy Tebow September 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

whats wrong with being a clempson fan?

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