Who: S.C. State (1-0) at Clemson (0-1)
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
TV: ACC Network
CLEMSON - In a future not too far, far away, Vic Beasley's ready to go mano-y-mano with professional offensive tackles.
Although Clemson's All-American defensive end put off the NFL to fulfill his senior year, his face lights up when asked about early-season individual battles with Georgia junior John Theus and Florida State senior Cameron Erving.
Erving is the No. 4 offensive tackle prospect in the 2015 pool, per NFLDraftScout.com, while Theus is in the top 10 among 2016 prospects (though he could declare early.)
Beasley struggled against that particular duo; Beasley made two tackles (none for a loss) last year vs. Florida State, and barely laid a hand on Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason on Saturday. Beasley did swallow up tailback Todd Gurley for a critical loss on 3rd-and-2, and was credited with a sack late in the second half when Mason was flagged for intentional grounding.
"It went pretty well, I think we both had our shares of wins and losses in the little battle," Beasley said of his clash with Theus.
While Beasley's respectful of the upcoming S.C. State game, he can't hide his excitement for another crack at Erving in Tallahassee on Sept. 20.
"Oh yeah, I've been waiting on that opportunity," Beasley said. "I love going against the best. He did pretty well on me last year. So definitely, I'm looking forward to that matchup."
Sooner or later, Beasley could see some time standing up at outside linebacker, as he did at times in 2013 and worked on during spring drills and fall camp.
"I did a little bit last year, so it'll probably be just as much this year," Beasley said. "A little bit here, a little bit there. Just depends on how comfortable I feel. Having experience coming out of the stance, made me feel more natural."
Clemson will cut a $275,000 check to South Carolina State for Saturday's visit, per a university official.
"It's good for us to play an in-state school like this for a lot of reasons. It's good for us to be able to have a home game here and grow our team," Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday. "I think it's great for them because they get an opportunity to play on a big stage, and it's great for our state."
Clemson has hosted S.C. State in consecutive years, and three times in the past seven seasons. It's a relative bargain to Clemson, as FCS one-game prices sometimes can float above $400,000, but the Bulldogs benefit from a strong opponent to prepare itself for Mid-Eastern American Conference action.
"Keeps the money in the state, helps them financially," Swinney said. "So there's a lot of positives from that."
Not counting South Carolina, and including 2014, Clemson has hosted at least one in-state opponent each year since 2007. The Tigers have taken on Furman (twice), The Citadel (twice), Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian College, Wofford and S.C. State the past eight seasons.
Three players suspended for the 2014 opener are reinstated this week: defensive end Corey Crawford, left guard David Beasley and cornerback Garry Peters. (Right tackle Shaq Anthony also was suspended in the spring, but chose to transfer in August.)
That trio of seniors has logged a combined 103 games and 49 starts in their careers.
Crawford is listed as Tavaris Barnes' co-starter at defensive end, and Beasley is Reid Webster's co-starter at left guard. Peters will begin as cornerback Martin Jenkins' backup.
In the case of Crawford (12 starts in 2013) and Beasley (seven), they could win their jobs back as soon as this week based on their fall camp focus.
"They've done nothing to not be considered two of our best players. They just weren't able to play in that game," Swinney said Tuesday. "I loved both of those guys' energy and effort on the field last night. They're ready to go."
Mulligan for Lakip
A costly 34-yard miss in the second quarter Saturday by new starting kicker Ammon Lakip hasn't lost Swinney's trust - yet.
"It's still his job. I wish he would have made it," Swinney said. "He's 0-for-1. If he's 0-fer for a while, then we got issues. But I'm not going to fire a guy because he's 0-for-1."
Punter Bradley Pinion is Lakip's backup. The only other scholarship kicker on the roster, freshman Alex Spence, did not make the trip to Georgia. Spence is grayshirting, meaning he's paying his own way his rookie year.
Which means unless Lakip scuffles badly, it's his gig in 2014.
"He'll grow his confidence this week," Swinney said. "Sometimes you learn the most from some pain and suffering, and adversity. I think Ammon is an excellent kicker. I really think he's going to have a great year."
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