Dabo Swinney has referred to senior receiver Jacoby Ford as his fourth son, and the two have developed a tradition of locking arm-over-shoulder to sing the alma mater after home games.
What Swinney does not know was the previous three years, Ford and former receiver Aaron Kelly kept an annual log of Swinney's abundant catchphrases and slogans, tabbed "The Dabo-isms Book."
"By the end of each year, we probably had 10 pages of stuff he had said," Ford said.
"He likes to talk."
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Ford has yet to play in Williams-Brice Stadium, forced to miss Clemson's visit to USC two years ago because of an ankle injury.
But the Florida native - whose brother, Davy, played running back at Florida State - said folks back home are surprised when he claims this rivalry is more heated that Florida State-Florida.
"It definitely means more to the fans than that one does," Ford said. "The environment's a lot different."
Kick-started. Swinney said Wednesday he was encouraged by junior Richard Jackson's recovery last week from a two-week period of struggles.
Jackson had missed six of his past 12 field goals going into the Virginia game, as well as two extra points in his last start. He made two short field goals and all four PATs against the Cavaliers, only missing a 52-yarder that went off his foot straight from the left hash mark.
"Even the one he missed Saturday, I told him, 'That's the way you kick it,'" Swinney said. "He was focused on getting it through the uprights. He didn't just take a pass at it and hit it. He has hit the ball well this week."
Dye by the sword. Although he grew up in nearby Greenwood, junior receiver Xavier Dye said he knew little of Clemson until he attended his first college game in Death Valley - the infamous fight game of 2004.
But Dye has learned the tricks of the bragging rights trade, especially considering his cousin is Ernest Dye, a standout offensive lineman for USC from 1989-92.
"You don't like hearing people talk about, 'Oh, Carolina beat you,' and that kind of stuff," Dye said. "You can't live with it. I can't. It's very hard to talk about.
"I guess they're kind of used to it, they know what to expect with how the last couple of years have been."
All mapped out. Former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning used to lament when his defensive ends "ran all the way to Seneca," implying they were set on recording sacks instead of executing their assignments.
Gaines Adams' tunnel vision helped fuel USC's offense in 2006, and a comparable trap appears set this time around.
The Tigers have 33 sacks, while the Gamecocks have allowed just as many sacks in as many games.
Swinney reiterated that stopping the Gamecocks' running game has to remain the defense's priority.
"You can't be in pass mode all the time," he said. "One thing you have to do is make sure you're mixing up your lanes inside. You have to get enough calls to where they're having to switch off inside, and now the lanes aren't very clear - as opposed to four guys with their ears pinned back in their rush lanes and they bust you with the draw. That's where you get hurt."