Monday, November 19, 2012

It’s all about the intangibles

Some folks seem to misunderstand why I think Clemson will beat Carolina this weekend.  It actually has nothing to do with the Tigers.  It has EVERYTHING to do with our issues that I discussed last week.  Is Clemson improved?  Sure they are.  The South Florida-purchased talent alone illustrates that.  Hopkins is just outstanding, Ellington is a star and Ford is underrated.  The whole world understands that Clemson is capable of scoring points and quickly.  

But overall, the Tiggers are largely blustery hype and the product of a weak schedule that hides a very bad defense.  If it weren’t for OUR problems I would feel differently.  If the question were simply, “Who is the better team” I would pick the Gamecocks.  That is NOT the question before us on Saturday.  I have to pick who is going to win this particular game.  I had no problem predicting that Carolina would win the last two years, and I would like to be able to do that again.  I can’t.  NOT because of Clemson’s positives.  It’s largely due to our negatives.  

First off, our quarterback has yet to produce a big-time performance on the road in a hostile environment.  What makes anyone think that will magically appear this weekend?  Shaw plays like a different person at home.  (Granted, I could say the same thing about Tajh if the game were in Columbia.  It’s not.)  I love Shaw and I am glad we have a Choir-boy under center because that is what Spurrier likes.  But this is one of those weekends where we could really use old hungover Garcia with his very large set of, well, you know.  This home/away schizophrenia from Shaw is an intangible that favors Clemson. 

Second, in games like this I am old-school in that I believe hunger and passion and “want to” matter big time.  Does anyone sense a fire underneath us entering this game?  After we were taken out of national title contention and lost Marcus, I have seen just the opposite.  D. J. aside, who plays with PLENTY of fire every week, I think we have been largely jogging through the motions and running out the season.  Meanwhile, Clemson is VERY hungry to beat us in anything.  I honestly could see mass tractor suicide if we won.  This intensity gap is real and another intangible that favors the Tigers.  

To me, these two intangibles will be the deciding factors.  Heck, when it comes to the non-emotion football stuff I like USC.  For example, I think we have the capability to get more pressure on Boyd than anyone else has, and the more I think about our “bend but don’t break” defensive approach, it actually could be the right approach for this weekend.  We have more than enough depth to handle the “lots and lots of offensive plays” scheme from Morris.  

And Spurrier has shown several times he can outcoach the poor man’s Lane Kiffin.  But Kiffin the sequel is being handed a similar setting that the original Lane had a few years back against Spurrier.  A limping and lethargic Gamecock squad went into Neyland that night and lost badly despite being better on paper in my humble opinion.  We are that flat right now and that’s why the Orange Kool Aid will be flowing on Saturday.  This is one of those rare cases where the good betting money is on style over substance.  And that’s why I see Clemson winning and really winning pretty easily.  I hope I am wrong.  

On a positive note this week, let me say how much I am enjoying the new hoops era under Frank Martin.  VERY intense guy and although we will struggle this year for wins it is so nice to see us actually running an offense again in basketball.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!  

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