Gameday preview: Clemson vs. Coastal
10/31/2009 12:00 AM
11/08/2009 11:40 PM
Injury report, five game storylines, five questions with Jarvis Jenkins and more.
Coastal Carolina: Out - Myron Rogers (knee), Matt Johnson (arm), Raymond Emmerling (knee), Josh Thomason (shoulder), Alex Wolfe (shoulder), Robert Morris (knee); Questionable - QB Zach MacDowell (ankle), S Dominique Davenport (MCL), DE Quinton Davis (shoulder), LB Chris Walls (undisclosed), G James Sims (ankle).
Clemson: Out - TE Michael Palmer (concussion), S Kantrell Brown (concussion); Probable - LB Scotty Cooper (concussion).
Since the Maryland debacle, Clemson has scored 38 and 40 points, respectively, against a pair of ACC teams. There appears no reason why the offense should not steamroll Coastal Carolina, and you can bet the Tigers will look to bolster their offensive line's confidence and development by trying to hone their power running game.
Last week's 310-yard all-purpose performance rejuvenated Heisman candidacy buzz for running back C.J. Spiller. Now comes the dilemma for Dabo Swinney - rest Spiller and his turf toe once the game is out of hand, or enhance his profile by stockpiling stats. Swinney has hinted he is leaning toward the former, especially with a pivotal game next week against Florida State.
Certainly no treat
Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett served as a graduate assistant under Danny Ford from 1985-86. Death Valley has not been kind to former Clemson assistants, who have a 0-6 record when returning as a head coach elsewhere. Bennett is friends with current Clemson tight ends coach Danny Pearman, who played for the Tigers during Bennett's stint there.
The "can't" in Chants.
Coastal Carolina's offense is ranked No. 101 of 118 at the FCS level, and Liberty hung 58 points on the team two weeks ago. Clemson has pitched three shutouts this decade - 38-0 vs. The Citadel in 2000, 51-0 vs. Louisiana Tech in 2006 and 54-0 against S.C. State last year. See where we're going here?
A little R&R
The Tigers lost at Duke in 2004 after beating then-No. 11 Miami on the road. But this is different, given the location and caliber of opponent. With three games ahead to decide whether it reaches the ACC title game, Clemson will want to escape from this one victorious and healthy. That should entail an extended Willy Korn appearance and the opportunity to groom the young receivers and u defenders.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH JARVIS JENKINS
Jenkins, a junior defensive tackle from Clemson, is sixth on the team at 5.0 tackles per game and also has five tackles for loss.
When was the last time you experienced a thrill like the Miami victory?
It was the first time I've ever had a win like that. It felt kind of good. I'm anxious to see if we can get some more like that.
What were you doing when the game-winning touchdown pass happened?
We were over there planning for the second overtime with coach (Kevin) Steele. It was third down, and I didn't even want to look at the play. And I just saw everybody yell and scream and run onto the field, so I threw my helmet up in the air and took off. Surprised me.
You've played some good teams - No. 8 TCU, No. 11 Georgia Tech, No. 18 Miami. When people look back, which one of those do you think was the best?
If we had to pick the toughest game, I would honestly say Miami, because we actually had a dogfight with them. TCU, they're real good, but if we made some plays we were supposed to, we could have beat them.
The C.J. Spiller for Heisman talk is starting to crank back up ...
Man, it should have been like that since the beginning of the year. Obviously a Heisman candidate has to have a winning team, and I feel bad we lost those three games so that he didn't have that talk at the beginning of the year. He's the most unreal player I've ever seen.
Has he ever made you look silly in practice?
Oh, plenty of times. You can't second-guess what you're doing when C.J. has the ball. Once you go after him, you have to go with it because he'll take advantage if you pause for just a second.
GAME WITHIN A GAME
Coastal Carolina KO Zach McGehee vs. Clemson KR C.J. Spiller
The 6-foot, 215-pound freshman from Livingston, N.J., had 90 percent of his kickoffs go for touchbacks as a high school senior. This season, five of his 29 kickoffs have been touchbacks, with his average kick going to the 10-yard line. He also serves as the backup placekicker.
How he'll win:
By and large, Clemson's opponents have settled for pooch kicks that position the Tigers at their 40 instead of sending the ball to Spiller. But perhaps the biggest thing - given the team mismatch, Coastal Carolina might kick off only once.
Key number: 17.1
Coastal Carolina's average yards allowed per kickoff return, 12th best in FCS
The 5-11, 195-pound senior running back from Lake Butler, Fla., has six kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career, tied for the NCAA record. The mark is shared with Southern California's Anthony Davis (1972-74) and Tulsa's Ashlan Davis (2004-05). Spiller has three this season, two shy of Davis' national-record five in 2004.
How he'll win:
See Middle Tennessee's opening kickoff. Or the 92-yard return that gave Clemson third-quarter life at Maryland. Or last week's momentum-swinging 90-yarder at the end of the first half.
Key number: 38.3
Spiller's return average, which ranks behind Virginia Tech's Dyrell Roberts (40.8) and Texas' D.J. Monroe (39.3)
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