Thanksgiving is almost here and most people are busy thinking about the massive amounts of turkey they will be eating come Thursday. Clemson fans on the other hand, have one thing on the mind. Chicken. Garnet and Black chicken. Every year with Thanksgiving comes the Clemson Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks* rivalry game, and every year, we are thankful.
As a Clemson fan, it has been tough to be thankful for this game the last four years. Being a recent graduate, I was unfortunate enough to see the Gamecocks beat the Tigers all four years I was a student. South Carolina has never beaten Clemson more than four years in a row. If they succeed this Saturday, five will be the lucky number. I am here to name some reasons Clemson fans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, even if the last four years still sting like an open wound. With all fingers crossed and prayers sent up, hopefully these reasons will lead the Tigers to a win in Columbia this weekend.
1. Tajh Boyd–I bet you saw this one coming. Tajh is like me, he hasn’t seen Clemson beat South Carolina since he arrived at Clemson. Unlike me, Tajh is able to do something about it. In previous years Tajh has not put up good numbers against the Gamecocks and has altogether played poorly. This year, let’s hope he got that out of his system against Florida State. In order for Clemson to succeed, Tajh needs to succeed. It really is as simple as that. For a game as mentally challenging as it is physically, Tajh needs to remain poised and confident in the pocket and get the ball to #2.
2. Sammy Watkins–it is not a coincidence that #2 Sammy Watkins is number two on our list today. This kid is lightning fast and the best there is in the wide out position. With the looming decision about whether or not he will chose to forgo his senior season for the NFL Draft, Clemson fans, be thankful for the three years Sammy Watkins wore that orange jersey. To win on Saturday, Sammy better be ready to shake double coverage and juke his way to the end zone.
3. Clemson Defense–This is something that Clemson fans haven’t been thankful for in a long time. With the arrival of defensive coordinator, Brent Venables in 2012, the Clemson defense has improved drastically. His second season as defensive coordinator and he has turned the Clemson defense around, making it a staple to Tiger victories this season. The players have grasped the concept of Venables system and they will need to use it on the South Carolina running game this weekend.
I could go on and on with a list of things Clemson fans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but I’ll leave it at these three. While the Tigers pose as much more of an offensive threat than just Tajh and Sammy, these two players will be vital in ensuring a Tiger victory. The defense has to play alert and keep a close body on Connor Shaw and Mike Davis at all times.
This is more than just sports. This is rivalry week.
*I will never refer to them as Carolina or USC. I stand firmly behind the belief that “Carolina is in Chapel Hill and USC is in California”. Thank you, Dabo Swinney.