Clemson vs. South Carolina: Rivals talk about big game

As we move closer to Saturday’s Palmetto state showdown between the Gamecocks and Tigers, the coaches held their weekly news conferences on Tuesday.

As expected, most of what we heard were the generic compliments coaches like to bestow on their upcoming opponents.

Dabo Swinney mentioned how this weekend’s matchup was against the norm, and how excited he was to coaching in a rivalry game that had national ramifications.  With both Clemson and South Carolina are headed in to the matchup with identical records of 9-2, this game does feature the best combined records of the two schools in the history of this contest.

Beyond that, I would not exactly say there are national ramifications, but I understand his point as Swinney stated “that both teams being successful on a national stage is the best thing possible for this state and this rivalry.”

Possibly the best quote of the day from Dabo Swinney when asked about his experiences with Steve Spurrier, “It has been very professional. I know we don’t have the same music on our IPod.”

Swinney went on to comment on the date this game is played.  “I would not mind the game with South Carolina being played on Thursday nights as it would bring much more national attention to our rivalry.”  He went on to mention this would give both teams an extra couple of days to recover for a potential championship game appearance in their respective conferences.

The one item that may have been cleared up is the playing status of players for both teams.  Clemson’s freshman sensation Sammy Watkins is expected to play and be nearly 100%.  His range of motion of lifting his arm has improved greatly over the past couple of days.

More importantly, the Tigers left tackle Phillip Price told reporters tonight that he went through most of Tuesday’s drills and anticipates being available on Saturday night.  Considering the magnitude of Price’s injury against Wake Forest, this would be a major bonus for Clemson as a re-shuffled offensive line failed to produce at NC State.

South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington practiced Tuesday night as he recovers from an ankle injury.  Jadaveon Clowney and Devonte Holloman were also on the practice field as both continue to recover from concussions suffered against The Citadel and Arkansas.  Gamecock linebacker Shaq Wilson looks like he will be able to play Saturday night as well.

In a game of this importance at the state level, you can usually count on at least a couple of players to provide you with that quote that will get the sparks flying.  This week has been unusually quiet, but Gamecock defensive back Antonio Allen may have gotten Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd’s attention when Allen commented “If you put pressure on Boyd, he kind of folds”.  Tajh Boyd’s reaction was simply that losing three consecutive games to South Carolina “was a no-no around here”.

I hope each and every one of you has a Happy Thanksgiving with safe travels and fond memories.  On Friday we will take a look at what a win will mean for each program.

**  Mark Sturgis is a sports talk radio show host for WCCP, 104.9 FM in Clemson, the flagship station of Clemson athletics.

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