Shakin the Southland, SB Nation's outstanding Clemson blog, has done a Q & A with A Sea of Blue in preparation for the Music City Bowl tomorrow night. DrB and Figurefour do a great job of taking care of business as far as the Tigers are concerned, and I hope you enjoy their insight into the game tomorrow. You can find my answers to their questions here.
ASoB: Kentucky and Clemson met in the 2006 Music City Bowl, a game in which Kentucky upset Clemson for the MCB title. What are your memories of that game?
That we came into VT that year 7-1, highly ranked, and lost our best and meanest OLineman. After that our whole running game fell apart. Before VT we were over 200ypg rushing and down the stretch they just couldn't get anything started on the ground. We felt like we should've won the 2006 SC game, but didn't because of Bowden's game management. That left a sour taste in everyone's mouth and nobody wanted to be in Nashville after being in the Top 10 earlier that year. Of the game, Clemson showed up and didn't feel like playing early, decided to not try to run the ball anymore and went to the pass, and Kentucky whipped them from the start.
ASoB: A Music City Bowl bid has to be a disappointment for Clemson, and I honestly think that what the Gator Bowl did to Clemson by inviting Florida State over them was very wrong. How are Clemson fans dealing with that disappointment, and do you think it will affect the team's performance versus the 'Cats?
Well, the GATOR BOWL is a business entity, and is set up to make money. The decision to host Bobby Bowden's last game was a business decision. Clemson has been the beneficiary of such treatment in the past (i.e., last season) so I have no problems with this decision. Furthermore, had Clemson taken care of business on the field (Maryland, TCU, and GT both times were winable games) we would not have this discussion. Consequently, Clemson could have dictated its own fate with a few more wins and has been on the better end of the deal in the past, so I really am not mad about the Gator Bowl snubbing the Tigers in favor of a legend's last game.
Additionally our administration wanted the Meineke Bowl in Charlotte, against Pitt, because Clemson fans wouldn't go to Florida again after losing the ACC CG to the Gator or Champs Sports/Tangerine anyway.They would only go to Florida for the Orange Bowl.
The rest follows the jump ...
ASoB: The first big difference between Kentucky and Clemson that jumps out at me is scoring offense. Clemson is #24 in the nation in that stat, and Kentucky is #63. How has Clemson managed to generate so many points from a freshman signal caller in Kyle Parker, and a rushing game that, despite the presence of C.J. Spiller, still clocks in behind UK nationally, #43 to UK's #21?
Clemson has simplified its offense over the course of the year. This has helped Kyle Parker tremendously. Also helping the freshman is a commitment to getting the ball to our talented TE's, specifically Michael Palmer, and fewer passes to our WRs. Palmer is probably the best all-around pass catcher on the team. It also doesn't hurt that Clemson has two returners (Spiller and Ford) who can go the distance any time either receives a kick, and our defense is one of the best nationally at 3 & outs, so we work off a short field quite often. Finally, Spiller and Ellington are both great backs (Harper holds his own too) and can gain big yards through any small gap created by CU's offensive line.
ASoB: We all know about C.J. Spiller and his fantastic skill. Beyond Spiller, what is the #1 thing about the Tiger offense that UK should worry about?
Michael Palmer. This tight end catches anything thrown his way. He runs great routes and has been Kyle Parker's best friend in tough situations. Jacoby Ford is faster than CJ Spiller too.
ASoB: Both Kentucky and Clemson have given up plenty of points this year, UK 22.7 and Clemson 19.5. To stop Kentucky, what do you think must be the focus of the Clemson Defense? What Tiger defensive player do you think will have the most impact on the 2009 MCB outcome?
The Wildcat formation and Kentucky's ability to utilize Cobb. Clemson has struggled mightily against the run the past few games (mainly because of poor linebacker play), and given up most of those points via the running game. SC and UVA were successful lining up in the shotgun and running power plays at Clemson's defense. If Clemson keeps Kentucky from doing this, the Tigers have a great chance to win. If MLB Brandon Maye shows up and holds his gaps for once, I think we'll do fine.
ASoB: Predict the type of game we will see on Sunday night, and the outcome.
We will see Kentucky try to grind it out and Clemson show a simple scheme on offense. I really hope we see a lot of rushing attempts out of Clemson, as I think that the Tigers can have success against the Wildcats running the ball. If Clemson doesn't commit to the run, you'll see it and we'll lose. Kentucky also should be able to run the ball, and I fear Clemson will not be able to stop their Wildcat attack. I think Clemson will win but won't be surprised if we show up and completely wet the bed either.