Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot here.
I just want to say, profoundly, I was dead wrong about both teams going into last week’s action. My picks were defensible, and had more than enough work shown to resemble the cornerstone from which I built my Week Three castle. That cornerstone crumbled to bits as South Carolina struggled to stay on the field offensively and get off the field defensively. Conversely, Clemson, who I thought Lamar Jackson would make dizzy with his dazzling play found his Heisman repeat hopes brutally extinguished.
Many have called me to the carpet, especially those of the orange and purple persuasion. And I feel it necessary to repeat the refrain I uttered Saturday night on social media.
Never picking against Clemson. Ever. Again.
— Will Palaszczuk (@WilliePStyle) September 17, 2017
With that, to this week’s selections:
Clemson (-34) vs. Boston College
I went to Clemson this week, as I have the Tigers in our weekly assignments this week for SCRN and walked into their football practice facility for the first time.
OH. MY. GAWD.
I could have taken an iPhone’s worth of pictures, and I know it’s a review for most of you, but their facilities are among the best I’ve seen in the country. Add the success they’ve accomplished on the field, along with the facility and atmosphere of Death Valley, Clemson has one of the premiere packages to attract incoming recruits with.
For those who are wondering, no, I didn’t go down the slide.
As for the game last week, I again concede, this is the best defense in the country and anyone who boasts differently will have an impossible time convincing me otherwise. I know Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables spent the week telling us in the media (and you the fans, by extension) how the Louisville game was the worst game their defense played all year. If that was their worst, I’d shudder at the thought of what their best looks like.
By the definitions brought forth by the Clemson coaching staff, the Tigers could play their “worst” game defensively and cover the gaudy number. But what I’m looking for is some separation from the running back position. I want to see CJ Fuller prove to me that there’s a reason he’s the first running back on the board outside of his ability to pass protect being better than his peers. Dabo Swinney also had some high praise for Trayvon Mullen and this Clemson secondary, I’ll be focused on that as I watch from my perch at Death Valley.
Take Clemson and the points, and save me a pilsner at the Esso Club.
Pick: Clemson 42, Boston College 6
South Carolina (-9.5) vs. Louisiana Tech
There’s no other way to describe last Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium other than disappointing.
It was disappointing for the fans.
It was disappointing for Deebo Samuel to have his season put on hold.
It was disappointing people couldn’t hear the DJ.
It was disappointing the 2001 pyro malfunctioned.
What was most disappointing, though, was this was supposed to be the coming-out party and the showcase for the high-wire act that the 2017 South Carolina offense was supposed to be. As much as Will Muschamp can hide behind his comments praising Jake Bentley and telling us to look “beyond the stats”, aside from a few explosive plays, this unit has been in neutral for much of this season.
We were supposed to see an offense that resembled the Big 12 offenses in the mid-2000s, and we may not ever see it with this current cast, especially because Deebo Samuel is currently IN one.
Having typed all those negative words, there is still time and ability to turn this season into a positive step forward.
Even with Samuel’s absence, Bentley will now be forced to groom other options he’s failed the get the most output out of.
Expect Shi Smith to assume many of the roles Samuel had on offense, and Hayden Hurst should see a lot more work in the passing game where his presence has painfully lacked. I never like to look at an injury of this magnitude as a “blessing in disguise”, because the Gamecocks are a significantly better team when #1 is on the field. With Samuel out, however, it allows us to see whether or not the preseason hype about the depth of offensive weapons on the Gamecocks was justified, or just smoke and mirrors.
The defense for South Carolina had lived a charmed life through the first two weeks of 2017. Capitalizing on turnovers isn’t necessarily their job, but getting off the field certainly lies in their cross-hairs. There are few teams in America you can survive against allowing nine 3rd-Down Conversions against, and it wasn’t just a problem against Kentucky.
Louisiana Tech poses an offense in rebuilding and a defensive front that should be an adequate test for USC’s ever-evolving offensive line. The number on this game stands, in my mind, solely for the name brands these two schools possess. Make no mistake, however, Louisiana Tech CAN beat USC if we see any semblance of the performance we saw last Saturday. I’m not picking it to happen, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened, but the Gamecocks need some tough love right now. Be stubborn with the run, spread the ball to your bevy of the receivers and get off the field on third down and this should be a walk in the park. They are certainly capable of it, now they have to put it into practice.
Pick: South Carolina 28, Louisiana Tech 17