Well, we made it through 13 weeks of doing this. Huge thanks to all our guest pickers who chipped in with some fun analysis as the season went along. For our final installment, we got one of our all-time favorites, former Clemson center Jay Guillermo. Jay is getting married (to a lifelong Virginia Tech fan!) in the summer, getting ready for grad school, and still does a wicked Robbie Caldwell impression. We chatted about Clemson’s season, the rivalry with South Carolina, and who eats the most on the Tigers’ OL.
Q. As much as the defense has gotten attention, deservedly so, and Trevor and Travis have been hyped, I look at this team and think maybe the biggest difference is how physical the offensive line has been. Do you agee?
A. They really have. It’s a finishing mentality. Every offensive line wants it, but talk is cheap. They’ve really done a good job at finishing, staying on blocks, being able to pop guys out of there. If you watch, Travis does a fantastic job of being patient, and them staying on blocks is giving him lanes where he can cut. Having so many guys — a guy like Gage Cervenka. He’s been playing center since he moved from defensive tackle, and now he’s starting at guard while Sean’s hurt. Or a guy like Cade Stewart. Having that experience where you can trade guys in and out. Or Jackson Carman, when Mitch gets hurt at Boston College. All those guys really buying in to having a finishing mentality.
Q. What’s the meanest thing a South Carolina fan has ever said to you?
A. A lot of people talk about your mother. But it was always funny — I remember vividly in 2013, playing there for the first time, it’s not so much what anyone said, but I remember us coming into the stadium and just a sea of middle fingers. And I’ll never forget it, a kid is sitting on his dad’s shoulders, and the dad is giving us a one-finger salute. And his kid is on top his shoulders doing the same thing. He was maybe 4 years old. So the meanest thing? Getting flipped off by a 4-year-old is up there. You just have to smile and wave.
Q. Clemson’s been steamrolling everyone. Is this another steamroller game?
A. I have a lot of South Carolina friends, and I’ve told them I think it will be a little more competitive this year. It’ll probably be 52-14, 52-13. Clemson is playing at such a high level, and they’re such a complete football team. I really think it’s been too much for most teams this year. I actually think Will Muschamp is doing a good job, but I can’t see it being very close. Just as deep as Clemson is, and as thin as South Carolina is — they’ve got a few guys hurt. So the depth that Clemson has, they’ll wear them down.
Q. Looking ahead a bit, with the way Clemson and Alabama are playing, if we get that matchup again this year in the playoff, will it be the best Clemson-Bama game yet?
A. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but yeah, I think so. There’s a recurring theme with Alabama, and it’s the play of the quarterback. Jalen Hurts did what he needed to do there for them to be successful, but the way Tua is playing, it’s a different level. They’ve always got the defense. They keep getting better. But now they’re really putting it together with a really high producing offense. And at Clemson, this is one of the best defenses that’s ever been at Clemson, and it’s one of the most well rounded offenses — at least in a long time. You look, they’re in the top 10 in rushing, the way Trevor’s thrown the football, they’re protecting him. They’re the two most well rounded Clemson and Alabama teams that could see each other.
Q. Thanksgiving question: Who eats the most of the guys you played with?
A. It would probably be either Zach Giella or Gage Cervenka. Those two can eat pretty hearty amounts of food. So I know Caldwell will be on Gage, for sure. [*Caldwell voice*] Now boy, don’t you go eatin’ too much. You’re gonna be sloppy!
On to the picks…