Clemson's 34-10 loss to Alabama put a big dent in the Tigers' national reputation and brought derision upon ACC football.
But from the perspective of The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins, whose Bulldogs will be the opponent in Clemson's rebound game Saturday at Memorial Stadium, that outcome changes little.
Clemson, despite all of its issues, is still pretty darn good.
"All you have to do is turn on the film and you can see that we will have all sorts of problems against them," said Higgins, who held his weekly news conference Tuesday. "They have so much team speed, it's incredible. We know how good they are, and the fact that Alabama beat them convincingly does not change anything from our perspective. They are still a Top 10 team and we will have our hands full."
Actually, the Tigers fell completely out of The Associated Press poll released Tuesday. But Higgins' point remains; he contends that Alabama's win had more to with the Crimson Tide than any deficiencies on Clemson's part.
"Watching that game, it was incredible how good Alabama is," Higgins said. "Their guys up front were very impressive, and you have to give a lot of credit to Alabama — they are a very good football team. It was like watching an NFL defensive line against Clemson. They were just so much bigger and stronger and dominated the whole show.
"At the same time, Clemson did not play the kind of game they are capable of playing."
With the vaunted duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller combining for 11 touches and 20 yards rushing, Higgins expects Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence to give the Bulldogs a full dose of the two running backs.
"If I were Tommy Bowden, with those two backs who did not get many yards, that would be a priority,"
Higgins said. "To make sure to get the ball in their hands and see if we can get them 100 yards each. Stopping them will be a challenge for us.
"We've got to get a eighth and ninth guy in the box to try to stop them. And if we don't get in the proper gap and either one of them hits that gap, he will hit his head on the goal post. We wouldn't catch them in two-hand touch."
The Bulldogs' new 3-4 defensive scheme is designed to help get more speed on the field. But there is FCS speed and FBS speed, and Higgins said Clemson's is more like NFL speed. "They are faster than some of the NFL teams we had to prepare for," said Higgins, a former assistant with the Detroit Lions, "and they have the best secondary we've faced in my four years here."
The Bulldogs will rotate freshman backs Asheton Jordan and Terrell Dallas on the scout team this week in an effort to duplicate Clemson's speed for the first-team defense. "That's just so our guys will have a chance to see someone who's half as fast as their guys," Higgins said.
During Higgins' tenure, the Bulldogs have played FBS teams Florida State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. Their best result was last year against the seventh-ranked Badgers, when the halftime score was 21-21 before Wisconsin pulled away, 45-31.
But none of those teams was coming off a nationally televised humiliation.
"They will be in a bad mood," Higgins said of the Tigers. "We know that going in."
--Nose guard Terrence Reese, held out Saturday against Webber International with a knee injury, is questionable for the Clemson game. "We're hoping," Higgins said. "His knee is doing better, but he's certainly not 100 percent. We'll know more Thursday and Friday." ... Cornerback Tillman Millhouse injured his right shoulder against Webber International, but it is not a separation. "We're not sure of his status. It will be based on whether he can practice this week, Higgins said." ... Higgins said he plans to use running backs Jordan, Cody Wilson and Rickey Anderson against Clemson, then reevaluate the pecking order at the position.