Gamecocks try for five in a row against Tigers
Despite not experiencing a loss to Clemson in his career, redshirt junior defensive back Victor Hampton is looking at the bigger picture when it comes to the rivalry between the Gamecocks and Tigers.
“We’ve won four in a row, but the (overall) record looks really bad,” Hampton said. “So we still have a lot of motivation and a lot of stuff to do to catch up to those guys.”
However, South Carolina has done their best to trim the margin down. Clemson and South Carolina will be playing for the 111th time on Saturday, and the Tigers hold a 65-41-4 edge in the series.
The fact remains, though, that the Gamecocks have dominated the series recently with the four-game winning streak, and that is something that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wants to change.
“Nobody wants it more than me, I promise you,” Swinney said.
Then, in the postgame press conference after South Carolina’s 70-10 thrashing of Coastal Carolina, Hampton took perhaps the first jab of rivalry week.
“I always feel like it is a problem if your coach wants to win the game more than your players,” Hampton said. “At the end of the day, the players have to play, so we’re going to step in between the lines and we’re going to be ready.”
Perhaps making the highly anticipated matchup even more so is the fact that it will be senior day for one of the best senior classes in Gamecock history.
The class is relatively small and includes some juniors that have decided to enter, or are thinking about entering, into the NFL draft a year early.
Junior defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles are expected to leave early and participate in Senior Day ceremonies, and there is a possibility that Hampton may do the same.
There are only five seniors on the team, one a walk-on, and that is something that sticks out to coach Steve Spurrier, who said that its encouraging for next year.
But the small group of seniors includes quarterback Connor Shaw, defensive back Jimmy Legree, offensive lineman Ronald Patrick and defensive end Chaz Sutton, players who have made a tremendous impact on the Gamecocks.
“They’ve achieved some accomplishments that obviously have never happened before, with the 17-game home winning streak,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got 31 wins the last three years, 40 total now. And hopefully we can add to that.”
The seniors and the rest of South Carolina can add another first to the list with a victory over the Tigers on Saturday. The Gamecocks have never defeated Clemson five years in a row.
The vast majority of the team has never lost to Clemson and that is enough motivation for them to not let the current winning streak get to their heads.
“I’ve never lost to Clemson, so I don’t really plan on losing to Clemson,” tailback Brandon Wilds said.
The team also realizes the historic streak it is on at Williams-Brice and they will rely on the fans to back up South Carolina. The 17-straight games won at home is the longest such streak in the nation.
“We have a lot of goals that we set this year, and we still have a chance to reach all of the goals that we set,” Hampton said. “It’s not even about the excitement for me; it’s about the excitement of our program and our team. We have an opportunity to do something great here.”
The blowout victory over the Chanticleers this past weekend will also give the Gamecocks momentum heading into the big game against the Tigers and Shaw said it was something that the offense needed.
This year’s matchup will be the first time in the history of the rivalry that both Clemson and South Carolina are ranked in the top 10.
But Spurrier is downplaying the hype, saying it’s only another game on the schedule.
“This game counts on the record the same as all of them this year, so you try to get your players prepared to play the best they can every game,” Spurrier said. “Every single game’s extremely important, and since this is the next one up, this is the one that’s most important to all of us right now.”
But don’t try telling that to Swinney and the rest of the Clemson team, who have not tasted victory against the Gamecocks in quite some time.
“It’s something that no one has done around here,” said senior Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. “Not our senior class, not many of the coaches that have been here. It’s the one we are waiting for.”