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Practice report: Swearinger ready for rival
Posted Nov 20, 2012
Few know more about the Carolina/Clemson rivalry than South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger. Growing up between the two schools and going virtually unrecruited by Clemson, Swearinger takes this rivalry personally.
Trash talk is nothing new to South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger. The athlete who calls himself Jungleboi_Swagg on Twitter can often be found face-to-face with an opposing player yapping back and forth. It begins the moment he steps foot on the field and does not stop until the final seconds tick off the clock. Whether it is Vanderbilt or Georgia, Kentucky or Florida, it never changes. Throw in the fact that Saturday’s contest will be against Carolina’s bitter rival for the last time in Swearinger’s career, the trash talking will be off the charts.
“There’s a whole lot of trash talk,” Swearinger said. “It’s a rivalry game that people have been waiting for all year so there is going to be a lot of trash talk.”
When Carolina and Clemson, No. 12 and No. 11 in the BCS respectively, kick it off Saturday night in the 2012 season finale, it will be one of the biggest games in this rivalry’s history. Never has the two teams entered this game with more combined wins, 19, nor has both teams been ranked this high. Throw in the fact that Carolina will be looking to extend its winning streak over their rival to four and give head coach Steve Spurrier his school record-breaking win on Clemson’s field, emotions will be higher than normal.
“It makes it more exciting,” Swearinger said. “You want to make plays and you want to make the other team look bad. You have to prepare to be great and that’s what we’re trying to do this week.”
Swearinger and his teammates will have to combat an offense that has regularly broke school records and averaging well over 500 yards and 45 points per game. It all begins with the man that lines up under center, quarterback Tajh Boyd, who is throwing for over 300 yards per game. Boyd was abused in last season’s contest in Columbia, throwing for just 83 yards and a late touchdown with the game well in hand and was sacked five times. Boyd worked in the offseason to shed some weight and become more of a mobile quarterback. That has been successful for Boyd as he has been better able to avoid pressure and step up in the pocket or take off and run. Boyd is second on the team in rushing behind Andre Ellington with just over 42 yards rushing per game.
“Anytime you have a mobile quarterback that has confidence it’s hard to stop,” Swearinger said. “With hard work you can do anything. He’s put in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours on and off the field to get to where he is now. He’s done a good job.”
Of course what Boyd and the Tigers do best is throw the football, and his two favorite targets have been DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. The two have combined for over 1800 yards and Hopkins is enjoying a breakout season. Hopkins has 1171 yards receiving and has 15 touchdowns. Watkins has missed several games due to suspension and sickness, but has still turned in a solid season with 671 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The 6-1 Hopkins can go up and get the ball, but does have breakaway speed while Watkins is just a flat out speedster.
“Watkins is one of the fastest (we’ve faced), but both of those guys are great receivers,” Swearinger said. “(Hopkins) does a good job of going up and getting the ball and Watkins is more of a speed guy. It’s going to be a challenge to contain both of these guys.”
Swearinger has enjoyed bragging rights in each of his three seasons in Columbia. The Greenwood native grew up practically in Clemson’s backyard, estimating there was a 3-to-1 ratio of Clemson fans over Carolina fans, but went virtually unrecruited by the Tigers. Following Saturday’s 24-7 over Wofford the safety said that this game is personal for him. That hasn’t changed.
“It’s motivating,” Swearinger said. “They didn’t offer me until three weeks before signing day so it’s a personal game for me living 30 minutes down the road. I just take it as motivation.”
Whether Carolina wins or loses Saturday night, one thing is for certain; Jungleboi_Swagg will let the Tigers know who he is.
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