"I don’t know what to say, really. One week and the biggest battle of your collegiate season all comes down to 12 o'clock, Saturday, November 28th, 2009. Now either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble, inch by inch, play by play, 'til we’re finished.
We’re in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me. And, we can stay here -- get the s*#*t kicked out of us -- or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell one inch at a time.
Now, I can’t do it for you. I wish I could. My eligibility is up. I see these young faces, and I think -- I mean -- I can only dream of having the opportunity to lace 'em up one more time. To get the opportunity you have to hit Clemson in their mouth once again. To build a legacy of pride for future generations to bask in. To establish our rightful place in the history of this great rivalry.
You know, when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that's...part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. When you are out of chances. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small -- I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second, every blade of grass in Williams-Brice Stadium.
On this Carolina team, we fight for that inch. On this Carolina team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches that’s gonna make the f*%#in' difference between winning and losing! Between livin' and dyin'!
I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willin' to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what livin' is! The six inches in front of your face!!
Now I can’t make you do it. You got to look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes! Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him!
That’s a team, gentleman!
And, either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals.
That’s Carolina football guys.
That's all it is. Now, what are you gonna do?"
(Al Pacino Speech, Any Given Sunday, edited by Tim 'Pops' Frisby for Carolina/Clemson Game, November 28th, 2009)
A defining game awaits the University of South Carolina on November 28, 2009.
This game is a measuring stick in the sense that it will be used to gauge the progress of the Carolina Football program under the tutelage of Coach Steve Spurrier. Is it fair to assess which way the scale will lean after season five of the Spurrier Era? Many fans believe it is time for an audit, some will disagree. What I do know is that the Gamecock Nation as a whole is demanding a measure of accountability from the Carolina coaches and players alike. The status quo at USC has become an unacceptable crutch to lean on.
Clemson is playing good football and has a plethora of offensive weapons to utilize. Carolina will need to neutralize four in particular. Those four weapons must be accounted for at all times. Those weapons are Kyle Parker, C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Michael Palmer. If Carolina can limit the damage done by that foursome on offense the sky is the limit. Some attention will need to be paid towards Xavier Dye and Andre Ellington also. Both players have picked up their games considerably since the beginning of the season.
I think there is enough film on Clemson to understand what they like to do offensively. There should be a mental checklist of do's and don'ts that is summoned on every Clemson offensive snap. There should be no reason whatsoever to allow C.J. Spiller out of the backfield without the proper coverage...no reason. Obviously it is the Clemson Offensive Coordinators job to scheme to create mismatches. It will be our Defensive Coordinators responsibility to avoid those mismatches and create a formidable defensive plan. Who will be out coached?
BTF...Blunt Force Trauma...is the name of the game defensively. Carolina must bring the pain. Hit what you see and see what you hit. Wrap your arms and make the sure tackle if in doubt. Usually the team that gets hit the hardest will take their ball and go home. Carolina needs to make it a long tractor ride for Clemson back to the cow pasture.
Clemson has a few pet plays they will attempt. The Tiger's will attempt the wheel route out of the backfield with Clemson expecting Carolina to cover Spiller with a linebacker like every other team has this season. We cannot let that happen. This is were that spur linebacker hybrid earns his scholarship. Clemson may attempt the play were they run a man off the field, only they don't, and he goes wide open down the sideline on the snap of the ball. Please don't fall for that stupidity, stay alert. The Tiger's will run a three or four receiver set in which all the receivers will run verticals with the exception of Jacoby Ford, he will come underneath the verticals at about 25 to 30 yards. They will run this play early on and toss the ball like they are going for a deep strike, except they will harmlessly float it deep out of bounds. Undoubtedly they will bring out this play again in the fourth quarter and this time go to Ford underneath for 35-40 yards. They love to toss the football in the flats and have been successful with big yardage after the catch. Be aware of voided areas when playing zone, obviously that is were the play is intended to go. We just need to be cognizant of their money plays and make them work for what they get.
We have been chewed up and spit out by the opposing team tight end in the past. Believe it or not we have a player assigned to the tight end. Don't get victimized, assignment football is all we are asking.
We have our work cut out for us offensively against a very stout Clemson defense. The Tiger's will give you the underneath route. They like to keep everything in front of them much like the Florida Gators. It will be imperative that we take our chances down the field. If we don't keep them honest defensively they will jump those short and medium routes later in the game for crucial turnovers. Clemson will capitalize on turnovers.
Keeping the Tiger defense honest will require some semblance of a running attack. If we cannot run early Clemson will pin back their ears and tighten their defense like a vice.
Carolina's offensive line will need to come of age in this game for the 'Cocks to be successful. Garcia must have time to throw. I say go max protect whenever possible and let your big long receivers make plays. When Clemson starts dropping into coverage allow Garcia to check off into running plays. It's a chess game fellas, the smartest team wins.
Special teams will have to step up to the plate. The surest way to disengage the Clemson kick return game would be to kick it in the end zone for touch backs on kickoffs. But since that is not going to happen the next best approach would obviously be to kick away from Spiller. Virginia was very successful with this technique. Although it's picking your poison to kick to Ford over Spiller, I will take the less lethal dose on this one.
Punt returns will need to be approached with the same diligence. Keep Clemson guessing, no two punts should be executed the same. Everyone on punt coverage will need to be on the same page. Know your assignment.
Clemson has had their own difficulties in the red zone, but are usually effective converting turnovers to points. The Tiger's kicker's have had some very shaky outings this year. Don't expect them to have one against us. It never seems to work out that way. We need to keep whoever the kicker may be at an uncomfortable range. We have played well at home this year and will have that advantage. Like it or not this is a season defining and program defining game.
"We Must Protect This House." Go Carolina, Beat Clemson!