South Carolina at Clemson: Position-By-Position Breakdown

The second oldest rivalry in college football will commence once again on Saturday as the South Carolina Gamecocks will clash with the Clemson Tigers. At stake is a quality bowl game for each team but most important is the bragging rights.

The Gamecocks have won the last three games against Clemson, their first three-game winning streak against the Tigers since 1968-70. South Carolina has only won four in a row once, from 1951-54.

By now, you have read our preview of the game, our concerns for South Carolina, watched our little Clemson jab and now here is a position by position breakdown concerning who has the edge:


Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is now 240-of-353 passing for 3,367 yards and 33 scores against just 11 interceptions, while he has 466 yards and eight scores on the ground. South Carolina’s Connor Shaw is plenty dangerous with 1,732 passing yards and 339 more on the ground. Shaw has three rushing touchdowns and 15 passing.

Both are good but…

Advantage: Clemson

Running backs

South Carolina is without Marcus Lattimore as you know.  Kenny Miles has taken over for the Gamecocks, though he’s averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. Look for a lot of Mike Davis — the brother of former Clemson star James Davis — as well. Clemson’s Andre Ellington has 959 yards and eight scores and will get the lion’s share of touches for Clemson.

If USC had Lattimore, there is no question in this category who gets the nod but without…

Advantage: Clemson

Wide receivers

Hard to argue the efforts here for Clemson as they have two of the best wide outs (Hopkins and Watkins). I know the competition is suspect but they are very talented with speed. The Gamecocks aren’t without their weapons at receiver — Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington will be a load for the Tigers to handle — but Clemson undoubtedly has the edge here.

Advantage: Clemson

Offensive line

Both teams have seen their line play continue to improve and at times seem really good while at other times seem like they could not stop a pee wee league linebacker. Really it is a guess here on which squad is better as Wofford gave USC fits last week and then Clemson’s level of completion is questionable also. It boils down to who wants it this week.

Advantage: Toss Up

Run defense

The Gamecocks have the likes of Clowney, Quarles, Taylor and Wilson to shut down the run. They’ve proven they can do it while Clemson gives up 163 rushing yards per game to rank 72nd nationally.

I feel this is a simple answer….

Advantage: South Carolina

Pass defense

South Carolina’s secondary is led by D.J. Swearinger at free safety, and the Gamecocks rank 22nd in pass defense (194 yards per game) and eighth in sacks (3.09 per game). Clemson’s secondary was roasted by N.C. State last week, as the Wolfpack tallied nearly 500 yards through the air. The Tigers, who are already thin in the secondary due to injury, will be without starting corner Bashaud Breeland this week due to a groin injury.

Advantage: South Carolina

Special teams

The Gamecocks’ specialists, place-kicker Adam Yates and punter Tyler Hull, have been pretty solid this season and seem to improve each week. Clemson place-kicker Chandler Catanzaro also is a good one with excellent range. I feel on kick-offs both teams will be limited as the end zone is the target on kicks. Where you could see the difference is in Ace Sanders in the punt return game. He is 10th in the country in punt return average at 13.8 yards per return, and the Tigers struggled stifling N.C. State in the return game last week.  Ace Sanders just needs 30 punt return yards to break South Carolina's 41-year-old single-season record for punt return yards. He has 333. I saw he gets it.

Advantage: South Carolina


About flounder

Two-time grad of THE University of South Carolina.