One of the traditions that I'm personally most fond of during game week is reaching out to our fellow SB Nation blogs and finding out their opinions on the upcoming games between our two teams. Unfortunately, we don't always have a 100% response rate, so we don't always have Q&A time. Fortunately, the Clemson SB Nation blog, Shakin' the Southland, is on top of things and actually reached out to us first. I provided some Munson-esque answers to their questions, which are posted at this link, and Eric (Username ggggmen08) provided the following answers to our questions.
Here is a transcript of our exchange. The only additions I have made are noted in italics (like this).
Dawg Sports: Why should Georgia fans think that the Tigers' defense has any chance of stopping Georgia's offense?
Shakin' The Southland: In all honesty, they shouldn't. Georgia should expect to move the ball up and down the field Saturday night. I'm in "show me" mode regarding this defense. I haven't seen anything from them that leads me to believe they are capable of slowing down a high powered offense.
On paper, this should be Clemson's strongest front 7 in years. Clemson only lost Malliciah Goodman off the DL. The DTs were very young last year, but came on strong at the end of the year. Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson, DeShawn Williams, DJ Reader, and Carlos Watkins give the coaching staff the depth and talent they have been craving at this position. The top 4 LBs are made up of two former 5* recruits, Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward, along with seniors Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian. It remains to be seen how this unit will fair (sic), but I haven't been this excited about the LB corp in close to a decade.
The same cannot be said about Clemson's secondary. The problem back there is the experienced players lack talent and the talented players lack experience. There have also been a number of injuries over the past year and through fall camp. That lack of practice time could lead to some miscommunications.
DS: Is there any reason to think that Clemson's offense will not score 70 points on Georgia's super-inexperienced defense?
STS: Clemson's offense should be as good as last year's offense, if not slightly better. Boyd has had another year to mature and work on his mechanics. The offensive line brings back 4 starters and finally have depth at the position. And I believe (a healthy) Watkins, Bryant, and Peake could be better than Hopkins, (unhealthy) Watkins, and Jaron Brown. We'll miss Andre Ellinton, but at least there is depth this year with Hot Rod McDowell, Zac Brooks, and surprising C.J. Davidson. Last year Morris didn't trust anyone but Ellington.
With Chad Morris' new goal of 90 plays per game, points should be plentiful. Unfortunately, that also means giving Georgia's high-powered offense more opportunities against our suspect D.
DS: Are Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd fully healthy? Watkins certainly had his injury issues last year.
STS: Between Watkins' suspension, abdominal virus, and leg injury, he was never able to get in a groove last year. He was missing that extra gear that he showed throughout his freshman campaign. All reports out of fall camp are that he is extremely focuses (sic), in shape, and has regained that burst that made him so dangerous 2 years ago.
Tajh appears to have kept his weight down over the offseason and should be in similar shape as last year. I wouldn't recommend him taking a beating like he did in the LSU game last year. Hopefully the offensive line and RBs will help him out a bit more.
Assuming Watkins and Tajh have developed a similar chemistry as the Tajh/Nuk combo (or regain their chemistry from 2 years ago), they should be poised for a big year.
DS: Is the D-Line going to be the strength of Clemson's defense again this year?
STS: Like I said earlier, the DTs should be very good and deep. Vic Beasley is a great speed rusher off the edge, but at 240 lbs he projects to be a liability against the run and probably isn't suited to be an every down DE. On the other hand, Corey Crawford and Tavares Barnes are big, run stopping DE's, but both lack pass rush moves. Crawford was the starter last year and tallied only 1 sack on the season. Shaq Lawson has been credited by the coaches for being strong against the run while also possessing the quickness and moves to get after the QB. But as a true freshman, I'm not sure how much the coaches will trust him in game 1 against Georgia. So, while the DTs are a strength, the DEs have some question marks attached to them.
DS: Please tell me y'all don't have a field goal kicker that's as good as Kevin Butler or David Treadwell.
STS: After only missing one FG all of last year and nailing the game winner against LSU, Chandler Catanzaro is offended by that question. He really struggled as a freshman, but the guy has been lights out since. He's 40-46 the past 2 years and 14-18 from 40+ over that span. As much as I distrust our defense, I feel the exact opposite about Catanzaro. I hope it doesn't come to this, but if the ball is on his foot with the game on the line, I like our chances.
DS: So... Columbia, SC. Worst Columbia in the U.S. or Worst Columbia in the World?
STS: I've only driven through Columbia, SC so I can only speak to the distinct stench coming from the city and their miserable fans congregating about in places like Greenville and Anderson. I would say it would come down to Columbia, SC and Columbia (South America) (sic). However, Columbia (South America) (sic) did produce her...(picture only linked, not embedded, for copyright reasons). Your move, Columbia, SC.
I would like to extend our deepest thanks to Eric at Shakin' the Southland for reaching out to us and answering our questions so thoroughly, and also for providing us with an avenue to make fun of the Country Gentlemen for not knowing how to spell "Colombia." (NCT and Kyle Commenter will probably also note that I did not correct all of the grammar mistakes. I refrained because I didn't want to seem like even more of a jerk than I probably already appear to be by noting what I already have.)