No Time to Wallow in the Valley

South Carolina’s flagship institution is not the historic football power in the Palmetto State. That distinction falls to Death Valley, where Clemson edged geographic and traditional rival Georgia 38-35 Saturday night behind five touchdowns by stellar senior quarterback Tajh Boyd. Stud Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins went for over a hundred; their newly starting runner went for over a hundred. UGA still produced more total yardage, as Clemson was actually held below last season’s scoring average of 40+. End of the shootout came down to whom had the ball last, and an onside kick by a backup kicker didn’t pop up and into the hands of a Bulldog.

Clemson is a truly legit national title contender, coming off two straight wins over top 10 SEC teams (also LSU). Should they run the table, they will play for a national championship. Should they have only one loss and Georgia win the SEC with this lone loss, they are still headed to Pasadena over UGA. An neutral site rematch is not out of the realm of possibility.

Georgia is exceptionally explosive. Think about this: GEORGIA lost our best wideout, Malcolm Mitchell, for the year before he made a single big play. Todd Gurley, by far our top football player, was nicked up in the middle of the game and only touched the football twelve times, still setting a career high for yardage in just his fifteenth game. The O-line struggled in pass protection against a good defensive front, giving up four sacks, one resulting in a fumble by Murray, who also threw a zone read pick to a defensive end dropping into coverage. We botched a snap on a short field goal. UGA still scored thirty-five points against what is expected to be the best defense in modern Clemson history. We can score.

Throw in 6-5 JUCO-transfer wideout Jonathon Rumph who had 100 yards in the G-DAY Game but sat Saturday with a tweaked hamstring. Continue to throw to emerging playmaker Justin Scott-Wesley who has now had two straight big games. Diversify the ways we use our fastest player, Keith Marshall. And limit Murray’s ability to lose games for us by feeding the beast more: GURLEY is the best football player in the country. Time to prove it against South Carolina.

Can we stop anyone? I said before this game that Clemson on the road at night in game one was not a good indicator. They are by far the statistically most powerful offense we have on the schedule this year. Throw in the fact that two of our top three safeties sat out: Josh Harvey-Clemons (1-game suspension) and athletic Coorey Moore (minor injury). Having played through a game against the speed of Clemson benefits Grantham’s young defense – South Carolina, LSU, Florida won’t be as dynamite. Our 3-4 still looks pretty soft. Move more big men forward.

We did get blown up. Murray is 1-6 against top 10 teams. Richt lost his second ever against the ACC. The program is on the verge of going 0-2 for two-of-three seasons and having a poor start for three-of-four seasons. We have been bad early: 1-4 Murray’s first year, 0-2 his second, last year we played no one early save Lil Dooley’s Vols. We could be 0-2 again, or WIN.

It’s September: win out this month and Georgia is a national championship contender.

Han Vance on Twitter:
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