Spurrier: "One of the biggest games we've had with them and should be a thrilling contest..."
It's rivalry week.
South Carolina versus Clemson.
A Top 10 matchup between these two hated rivals for the first time in the series history.
So you'd think there would be a little jab thrown here and there considering how big this game is on Saturday.
Nope. There Coach Spurrier was lofting up praise to Clemson's head coach, Dabo Swinney, during his Tuesday press conference.
"I do like Dabo, I think he's done an excellent job there," Coach Spurrier said on Tuesday. "He’s a good person, got a good wife, one of the nicest ladies you’ll ever meet, and I think we have a good rivalry with Clemson. A little different than when I got here maybe, talking about that ’04 game and so forth."
We obviously aren't seeing the softer side of Steve Spurrier but this seems to be his way of letting the magnitude of this game shine instead of resulting in a back-and-forth between him and Dabo.
The attention is on this Saturday's contest as it should be.
The Gamecocks and the Tigers both enter this contest in the Top 10 in the rankings across the board and both are playing for a lot at stake. The Gamecocks are looking to finish up another double-digit win season while Clemson is hoping to push themselves towards a BCS at-large berth this bowl season.
Clemson brings with them a high-powered offense led by Tajh Boyd but talked about what South Carolina's defense has been able to do lately and what they will need to do this weekend.
"We’ve certainly improved," when asked about the defense's growth and evolvement over the season. "The young linebackers, about all of them are freshmen, I believe, have gotten better and seem to be in better position. The secondary also, linebackers, secondary play has been very good. Victor Hampton has had an excellent year, especially the past couple games, his coverage has been very good. So we’ll need to cover their guys the best we can, get a little pressure on the quarterback, all those kind of things. Our pass rush has not been quite as good as we hoped, but hopefully we can rush the passer, obviously if we want to stop (Tajh Boyd) we’ve got to get some pressure on the quarterback, so that will be a big key Saturday night."
Spurrier certainly will hope for a repeat performance from a player like Jadeveon Clowney, who picked up 4.5 sacks last season in the Gamecocks fourth-straight victory over Clemson. Clowney is expected to return to action this Saturday after sitting out the Coastal Carolina game with an injury.
On the flip side, Spurrier is hoping that Connor Shaw continues his brilliant career with a win in his final game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"Yeah, to be 25-5, I think is very special for Connor and for our team. To go down in record books as maybe the best quarterback to ever play here, he certainly could be considered that because of the win-loss record statistic...So he’s played really well. And again, hopefully he will end it up with one of his best games here Saturday night."
Shaw will have some help though. South Carolina will get Mike Davis back from injury and will also have the full services of Brandon Wilds at their disposal as well. Wilds returned to action last week against Coastal after missing all action since the Vanderbilt game with an elbow injury. Wilds carried the ball seven times for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
"All of a sudden all of our running backs are healthy," Spurrier mentioned Tuesday.
The Gamecocks have been a fortunate bunch to remain fairly healthy all season long and are hoping that being at full strength will help propel the Gamecocks to victory.
Spurrier knows he'll need his defense to step up and play like they have in recent years against the Tigers. He'll also need his offense to "run the ball a little bit, get some passes here and there" and play like they are capable of playing.
Help from the crowd won't hurt either.
"Should be a good crowd, a live crowd, we are going to need the fans screaming and yelling and hopefully making it difficult for them and be a little quiet when we have the ball – that would be helpful for us."
It sounds like we've all got our marching orders for Saturday night.
Get ready Gamecock Nation. There's a five-peat in the air.
Can you smell it?