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Former Gamecocks tight end details plan to beat Clemson: ‘Hit ’em in the mouth’

Last year, Jaheim Bell marched into Death Valley and helped South Carolina snap Clemson football’s ACC-record 40-game home winning streak.

Now a star tight end for No. 4 Florida State, Bell said he’s using that prior experience to help prep the Seminoles for a huge conference game against the Tigers on Saturday.

His advice to FSU teammates?

“I told those guys when I went there last year it was a very hostile environment,” Bell said Wednesday, per Noles247 “But you just gotta find that in-between point to have emotion and also be able to lock in. I’ve been telling those guys how it is down there. Once you hit ‘em in the mouth a few plays, it’ll calm down for sure.”

Bell, who transferred from South Carolina to FSU this offseason, played a critical role in the Gamecocks’ 31-30 win over Clemson last November that eliminated the Tigers from College Football Playoff contention and gave USC back-to-back wins over AP Top 10 opponents.

A versatile offensive weapon who played tight end and running back at South Carolina, Bell rushed nine times for 29 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for two yards in USC’s one-point win, its first over arch-rival Clemson since 2013.

As one of the top offensive contributors for the ACC-leading Seminoles, Bell’s next task is helping Florida State score its first win over Clemson since 2014 and first win over Clemson in Memorial Stadium since 2013 on Saturday.

Despite Clemson (2-1, 0-1 ACC) entering the game unranked, Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC) isn’t taking the Tigers lightly and fully expects to deal with a rowdy, sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium – something else Bell can attest to from last season.

“It’s a lot of emotion,” Bell said. “But you gotta find a way to put that to the side and do the right things, because when it’s high emotion that causes you to do things that you normally don’t do. So you’ve got to find a way to stay focused.”

South Carolina running back Jaheim Bell (0) runs past Vanderbilt cornerback Tyson Russell (8) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
South Carolina running back Jaheim Bell (0) runs past Vanderbilt cornerback Tyson Russell (8) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Bell finished his junior season as South Carolina’s second-leading rusher and third-leading receiver and had 492 yards and five touchdowns from scrimmage for a team that went 8-5 with a Gator Bowl appearance in coach Shane Beamer’s second season.

But he and defensive end Gilber Edmond, another key USC contributor last season, both transferred to Florida State this offseason to join a decorated team led by star quarterback Jordan Travis and coach Mike Norvell.

FSU ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll – one spot ahead of Clemson – but quickly jumped into the AP Top 5 after routing then-No. 5 LSU in a season-opening primetime game.

Bell, a preseason All-ACC selection, had a four-yard rushing touchdown and a 44-yard receiving touchdown in that 45-24 blowout of LSU in the Camping World Kickoff game.

He’s also coming off his most productive game of the season, catching five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in FSU’s win at Boston College last weekend. And he’s ready to keep things rolling against the Tigers in a big-time environment – and make it two wins in a row for himself.

“Like I said, once you hit ’em in the mouth a few times, that’s going away,” Bell said. “Once you do that, the crowd has nothing to be excited about. Once you hit ’em in the mouth a few times, it’ll be fine.”

NEXT CLEMSON GAME

Who: No. 4 Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC) at Clemson (2-1, 0-1 ACC)

When: noon Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium in Clemson

Watch: ABC

Line: Florida State by 2.5