COLUMBIA -- It doesn't matter if Woody Dantzler is 90 percent, 70 percent or 50 percent healthy; Clemson's elusive quarterback is striking 100-percent fear into South Carolina's defense.
"It's like playing against (Gamecocks running back) Derek Watson," said cornerback Sheldon Brown. "You put him back there, and you want to stay at home, because he's coming back to you."
Dantzler's elusiveness presents South Carolina's defense with an interesting quandary entering Saturday's game at Death Valley (3:30 p.m., ABC-Channel 6).
Do the Gamecocks gamble and throw their typical complement of blitzes at the junior with hopes of going for the kill? Or do they play it soft to prevent the big play?
Marco Hutchinson isn't sure.
"With Clemson's offense, you never know what you may get," the Gamecocks senior linebacker said. "It's more like an offense that messes with your mind. It's like a game of chess. There was a couple of plays on film where I was like, `Man, the quarterback has got the ball?"'
Redshirt freshman quarterback Rod Wilson has been leading the scout team this week, trying to duplicate Dantzler's jukes and jives in practice to give the Gamecocks an idea of what they'll see Saturday.
"But our scout team, I doubt if they can really simulate what we're going to see," Brown said.
Hutchinson said the key to keeping the Tigers offense under wraps lies with the linebackers. The group has struggled with misdirection and play-fakes this season -- particularly against Alabama, Kentucky and Vanderbilt -- and it can't afford to over-pursue against Clemson's multiple looks.
"On the play fakes, the linebackers will go in for the run on the fakes, and the quarterback dumps the ball over our heads," Hutchinson said. "Clemson runs that scheme as well as anybody I've ever seen. We play on instinct most of the time, but we'll really have to stay grounded this game."
RARE COMPANY: Watson has a chance to etch his name into the school record book Saturday.
The sophomore needs 84 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier, 107 to break the sophomore rushing record of 1,022 set by Harold Green in 1987.
The Gamecocks' last 1,000-yard rusher was Duce Staley, who amassed 1,116 in 1996. That year, Staley ran for 133 yards in the season finale at Clemson to surpass 1,000.
Staley helped the Gamecocks to a 34-31 win that night in the last time the Gamecocks beat the Tigers. Clemson has won the last three in the series.
TALKING HEADS: The Gamecocks have been restrained this week when asked to express their disdain for Clemson, but there have been a couple exceptions.
Center Scott Browne: "I hate Clemson. I want to beat them, I should say that. I'm sure they're good people, but I want to win bad."
Hutchinson: "I don't like their fans, I really don't. They're so arrogant. Their fans really get on your nerves."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645.
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