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Clemson Football

Keys to Victory: No. 6 Clemson vs. SC State

September 11, 2021

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Each week we give you a look at the game's history, three keys to success, plus Swanny’s prediction.

The Match-Up:

No. 6 Clemson (0-1 overall, 0-0 ACC) vs. SC State (0-1 overall, 0-0 MEAC)

Clemson vs. SC State 2016

Series History:

Overall: Clemson leads 4-0
at Clemson: Clemson leads 4-0
at SC State: N/A
Neutral: N/A
Last Meeting: Clemson won 59-0 in 2016
Streak: Clemson, Won 4


Stat of the Week:

Clemson is attempting to win an 18th straight home debut. Clemson has won 17 straight home openers dating to 2004. A win would break Clemson’s longest winning streak in home openers all-time (17 from 1944-60).

Chasing History:

After a joint performance by the Clemson University Tiger Band and the South Carolina State Marching 101 to start halftime, Clemson will honor one of college football's all-time greats. Representatives of the National Football Foundation (NFF) will be on hand for an in-stadium salute honoring former Clemson running back (and current Running Backs Coach) C.J. Spiller for his College Football Hall of Fame selection.

During the ceremony, the NFF will present Spiller with a plaque celebrating his selection in advance of his formal induction at the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner in Las Vegas on Dec. 7. In January, Spiller was selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021, earning the distinction in only his second year of eligibility to become Clemson’s eighth overall inductee and its fourth former player to earn the honor.

Key 1: Get In Rhythm

Last weekend in Charlotte, the Tigers were out of sync from virtually the first offensive snap forward. Certainly, there has to be credit given to Georgia’s defense, but let's not forget how good the 2018 Alabama defense was, and the Tigers could have put up half a hundred in their 44-16 title game blowout of the Crimson Tide.

The Clemson offense needs to get in a rhythm so that D.J. Uiagalelei can build continuity with the wideouts during in-game action. It won’t matter today if he’s great, but any red flags against this group of Bulldogs would indicate a bigger issue for the Tigers moving forward.

Key 2: Non-Offensive Score

Talk about a play Clemson could have used last weekend against Georgia-- the non-offensive score. Falling 10-3 was tough to swallow, but even more so knowing that Brent Venables’ defense didn’t give up a touchdown as the lone trip to the endzone came off a pick-six of Uiagalelei. 

This afternoon when the Tigers hit the field against SC State, perhaps history will repeat itself in a good way. Incredibly, Clemson has scored a non-offensive touchdown in all four games against SC State-- including two in 2013-- talk about strange!

Here is a quick look at the list:

  • 2008: Chris Clemons 32-yard interception return
  • 2013, Martin Jenkins 52-yard interception return; Darius Robinson 35-yard interception return (the first time since 1940 that Clemson had two interception returns for touchdown in the same game)
  • 2014: Jadar Johnson 60-yard interception return
  • 2016: Denzel Johnson, fumble recovery in the end zone on a kickoff

Key 3: Run the Football! 

Easily the most disappointing stat from Clemson’s loss to Georgia was the Tigers' two-yard rushing performance. Most of that had to do with how good Georgia’s defensive front played, but Tony Elliott didn’t commit to the run and admitted as much this week.

"Probably should have stuck with the run game a little bit more. It felt like it wasn't there as much as-- when you actually go back and watch the tape, we were actually creating some holes and had some RPO stuff,” Elliott noted.

In my estimation, some of the yards have to be “trash” yardage, and that will take Uiagalelei committing to tucking the football and running when the opportunity is there. Swinney always says, “You can’t go broke making a profit,” and that’s a valuable lesson for Uiagalelei to learn.

As for Elliott, he’s got to stay committed to the run-- even when it’s not going perfectly-- it’s that simple. 


All week Dabo Swinney has talked about ‘getting back to work,’ which is exactly what the Tigers need to get their feet under them moving forward. 

Most importantly, it’s a chance to see how Uiagalelei reacts to playing after facing adversity on a huge stage last weekend. Dabo Swinney noted earlier this week that he really likes what he’s seen from the sophomore quarterback.

"Yeah, that's what I was pleased with more than anything; I told him that. He was disappointed. I'm sure he was over here today watching every play-- the first one in the building,” Swinney said of Uiagalelei’s response.

“I was really proud of how he responded. That's what you want to see. He had a lot of adversity for two and a half quarters there, and it's been very easy for him to just get worse. Man, he stepped up, and he responded, and I love the look in his eye, all the way down. We just didn't make a couple of plays for him.”

With that in mind, I expect to see Uiagalelei playing well-- in part because of the competition, in part because he’s just a driven ballplayer.

No. 6 Clemson 59, SC State 7

Swanny’s Predictions: 

Date 2021 Schedule Predictions Swanny’s Prediction Actual Score
9-4-2021 No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 5 Georgia 31-27 Clemson 10-3 Georgia
9-11-2021 No. 6 Clemson vs. SC State 59-7 Clemson  


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Keys to Victory: No. 6 Clemson vs. SC State

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