News team ... assemble!!!
I'm here. Let's do this. ... Ron Burgundy?
While we wait for the other guy to get here, go ahead and send in your questions or comments. We're here for up to or over the hour, depending on how this goes.
We could talk about Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck for an hour, too, you know.
Actually, with Ryan, we'd need more like six hours.
Colts are a sore subject for me at the moment... thank you. Darn Arizona Cardinals. Of course, we could bring the Denver Broncos?
Or we could keep it in-state. Pretty big game this week. Lots of people watching.
I'm resisting an obvious Pacers joke right now. Alright, I'll serve it up. Ryan, Connor Shaw probably isn't as well-known nationally as Tajh Boyd, but you don't feel he's necessarily underrated. How do you view Shaw's career as a whole?
The reason I'd say he's not underrated is because I think many have come around on Shaw. He's absolutely one of the best quarterbacks in Gamecocks history. This season, he's been as consistent as any quarterback in the country. The numbers don't lie, and people have begun to notice. Shaw may not put up the gaudy numbers like Boyd or other QBs who get Heisman talk, but his ability to make plays without making mistakes has been critical for this offense.
If you're into QB rating, the college version: Tajh Boyd is 7th in the country, Connor Shaw is 13th. Not bad. Not far apart.
I gotta be honest: Boyd has quietly raised his comp percentage to 67.3. I remember early in the year he was in the 61-62 range. He's been fantastic the last month.
But Connor Shaw: 20 touches, 1 pick. One. Woof.
Shaw is one of only two quarterbacks in the country to hit that 20-1 TD/INT ratio. The other is Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. So, strictly in terms of consistency and efficiency, he's performed at a Heisman-caliber level. Even if his passing yards, other numbers don't indicate it.
Of course, pure chances are another reason Shaw doesn't get the Heisman talk. South Carolina's offense has been very balanced this season. Mike Davis is a pretty decent player, too.
How often does Shaw get sacked? That's always been an issue with Boyd. Part because he holds onto it too long, part because his O-Line is a big barrel of 'meh.'
Speaking of Mike Davis, Aaron, I've got to think Clemson has to stop the run Saturday night. How does the Tigers' defensive front match up against Davis and South Carolina's offensive line?
Yes, I just flipped gears there. Like magic.
This is easily the best front seven the Tigers have had at least in the last couple of years. They stoned Andre Williams. They made plays when they had to against Georgia and Georgia Tech, two teams with electric runners. They're 54th in the country against the rush, but honestly, that's not really indicative of their performance.
Because statistically, these things go hand in hand: yes, the Tigers face ACC competition. But they've dominated that competition, which then inserts second- and third-string guys in the game for the fourth (and sometimes third) quarters, skewing the numbers.
I maintain if Mike Davis ends up in the neighborhood of 100 yards and a touchdown, but doesn't go bonanza on the Tigers, Clemson would live with that.
That's interesting. May be easier said than done. You mention Georgia, the lone SEC team Clemson has faced. (And, I think we can agree, running in the SEC is different than any other conference in America.) Todd Gurley had 154 yards on 12 carries against Clemson. Not to mention two touchdowns. That's 12.8 yards per carry. That's ... the Red Sea. Why will this be different?
For one, Gurley's first touch was a 75-yard TD run. Total blown assignment. And oh yeah, Clemson's for sure given up big plays consistently.
But after that run, re-do the numbers: 11 for 79. Still not great, but not ghastly. And that was in game one. This is game 12, with a young defense.
Syracuse was jacked up for its ACC opener. For about four minutes. Then Clemson won 49-14.
Clemson also dominated Virginia 59-10, the largest ACC road win in Clemson's history. The Maryland game was 40-27, and NC State was an ugly 26-13. First 4-0 ACC road campaign in over two decades.
A murderer's row? Far from it. Significant progress? You betcha. Ask Oregon and Stanford - and, um, South Carolina - about easy road games.
That's fair. South Carolina's loss at Tennessee remains dreadful. And, goodness, was it important. That said, I'd venture to guess Tennessee may go 3-1 against those four teams Clemson has played on the road. Maybe 2-2. Definitely not a losing record.
My take on Clemson's whole season isn't markedly different than what we'd presumed it'd be in August. Three huuuuuuuge games, and nine walkovers. (Going 9-0 against the walkovers wasn't a given, but Clemson did take care of business.)
I think fordebritt brings up a good point. Saturday night will be an environment unlike anything Clemson has experienced this season. Doesn't mean Clemson will shrink in it by any means. Does mean we're dealing with a significant unknown.
Clemson outlasted a Georgia team that on Aug. 31 was somewhere between the 5th-best and 25th-best team in the country. Clemson got dominated by Florida State that is clearly the first or second best team in the country.
In other words: we know Clemson can play ball. But how well? We'll find out our answer Saturday.
That's what I love about this matchup. So many things we don't know. When's the last time we had this many questions so late in a season? It's not every year, I know that.
One other eye-of-the-beholder argument at task here: does it matter that South Carolina looked real iffy against Vanderbilt. Florida and Kentucky - Kentucky!! - on its home field? Depends on how you want to argue it.
One side: "Eh, South Carolina was bored. A win's a win." True.
I'd argue Vanderbilt is a solid team, beat Florida, Georgia, Tennessee. Two of those games were on the road. As for Kentucky, remember USC was up 27-7 late in the third quarter. Final score definitely deceiving.
The other side: "You are who you are. If you're 20 points better than the other team, play like it. If you don't, that's a red flag." Also true.
The distracted argument comes into play for Florida. All 14 points were given up while Auburn-Georgia were playing. No excuse, especially because it's a similar situation this week, with Mizzou and A&M playing simultaneously.
South Carolina was distracted early. Again, that's no excuse. You have to handle business on the field. I'll be curious to see how much -- if any -- the Mizzou-A&M game plays an affect Saturday.