South Carolina is playing its best football of the season heading into the rivalry matchup with Clemson.
The Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5) have won two of their past three, with wins over Florida and Auburn, both coming at home. With the No. 23 Tigers (8-3, 6-2) now coming to town and South Carolina mired in a six-game losing streak to their in-state rival, first-year head coach Shane Beamer is looking for his team to carry some of that momentum into the regular-season finale.
"I understand this is an intense rivalry," Beamer said. "And for the players and coaches on both sides, it’s different. But it’s not any less important than playing Georgia, and it’s not any more important than playing Troy from our preparation standpoint.
The Gamecocks come into the matchup ranking No. 111 nationally in total offense and No. 104 in scoring offense. The Tigers come in with one of the better defenses South Carolina has faced, ranking No. 15 in total defense and No. 8 in scoring defense.
In order to snap the losing streak, Beamer knows the uphill battle his offense is facing with graduate transfer quarterback Jason Brown making just his fourth start of the season.
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"Defensively, they're fantastic," Beamer said. "They're all over the place. So much respect watching them play, just how multiple they are. I don't know how they coach it all because they do so much defensively it's impressive to watch. And they're disruptive. When you're top four in sacks and tackles for loss, that's pretty amazing. So disruptive to say the least."
"Georgia is the best team in the country and scored three points against them," Beamer said. "We know the weapons Georgia has on offense and they scored three against them. Clemson has had some injuries since then, but not that many on defense. You look at how Murphy and Thomas rush the passer, have so much respect for their linebackers, the defensive backs are really, really good and athletic and well-coached."
Beamer went on to say that preparing Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables' scheme can be problematic and for a number of reasons.
"They're just so multiple," Beamer said. "Normally you can say, ok when we line up in this formation, they're going to be in this front and a pretty good chance they'll be in this coverage, and you'll probably get two or three pressures out of it. These guys? It's like you have to be careful what you do offensively because you can't practice every look that you're going to get against coach Venables and the defense. I mean there's so much. You just have to be really sound in what you do and execute the plays you call against a multitude of fronts."
South Carolina enters the contest as a double-digit underdog and according to Beamer, if the Gamecocks are going to pull off the upset, they'll have to be efficient on offense, something so few teams have done against the Tigers this season.
"We have to do a great job of communicating and making sure we're all on the same page," Beamer said. "We just have to make sure we make enough plays in the run game and pass game ourselves to be able to move the football because not many teams have been able to do that over and over again."
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