After a record setting junior year, Clemson running back Wayne Gallman looks to help carry the Tigers back to the College Football Playoff this year. The first stop is a trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, where second-ranked Clemson faces Auburn on Sept. 3rd.
Although Auburn possesses a stout defensive line with some athletic playmakers, Gallman says he feels confident after facing what looks to be one of the best defensive fronts in the nation this summer.
Gallman discusses game prep, the off-season and freshman performances on Monday.
Q: Coach Swinney’s mantra so far is that you’re embracing being the target. Is that how you guys are treating this game, it’s not about Auburn, not about SEC, it’s just about the next challenge in front of you?
Gallman: “Yeah, for the whole season we’re embracing a target. We proved last year that we are a team that will come out and do anything to win. Teams want to beat us.”
Q: How good can this offense be?
Gallman: “It can be pretty good. We’ve got a lot of receivers, a lot of running backs and we’ve got Deshaun. It all goes together with execution. It shows the great job the coaches have done with recruiting and coaching us in practice. It will all come game one and we will see what we can do.”
Q: Speaking of Deshaun, we noticed a kind of motivation going into this year, trying to get back into that same spot as last year. Do you see that in his eyes?
Gallman: “Not just him, it’s in everybody’s. Ben (Boulware) is probably the most vocal towards everyone, just letting everybody know how much he wants to get back. The whole offensive line, the defense, we all want the same thing.”
Q: For you personally, how different of an approach have you taken this offseason compared to the last two seasons?
Gallman: “The offseason was a high point for me. I tried to work my hardest in and out of the weight room, running, doing anything I could to better myself. I already feel naturally better at the game of football but talent isn’t everything, so it all matters.”
Q: Ben said that he had to take a break after the national championship game and after about a month he started focusing in again. At what point were you ready to come back and make goals for this year?
Gallman: “I was ready right after. It was kind of weird because my sophomore year of high school we were on the way to the state championship, and at that time I wasn’t mad because I knew we would be back the next year. My junior year we won the state championship. I felt the same way last year, of course I was mad that we lost but I know that if we stay focused and have that drive, then we can always make it back. We just have to do the right things.”
Q: How long did the offseason feel now that you’re in that one-week game window?
Gallman: “It felt pretty long but now that I’m looking back it actually went by pretty quickly. The summer went by pretty fast with getting all of the new freshman acquainted. Everybody’s all at the same point now.”
Q: What did you do this past weekend getting that time off a week before the first game?
Gallman: I hung out with teammates. I really just sat back and watched a couple of football games. I really just kept to myself, drank some water and chilled.”
Q: Did you watch the Grayson game?
Gallman: “Yeah I watched some of it. They did a good job but I saw IMG came out on top in the end. I hope the best for those guys.”
Q: What are your thoughts on Auburn’s defensive line? They’ve got Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams. What do you see on film with those guys?
Gallman: “Carl is pretty athletic. He’s probably the fasted guy on that defensive line. Montravius has really good lateral speed. Their whole defensive line is good but I don’t think it is anything we haven’t seen in practice. You’ve seen what Christian (Wilkins) does, Carlos all the way to Clelin, who’s going to have a big year, all those guys are so good and I really can’t tell a difference. I know it’s going to be a challenge but we’re practicing against the right guys.”
Q: They said Lawson might be the fastest guy you see all year coming off of the edge. For you as a running back, can you talk about that challenge and maybe have to chip in and block more?
Gallman: “I’m going to chip him. It is what it is. I can’t say very much about that, I just have to get my job done.”
Q: How excited are you to finally be able to tackle someone that’s not on your own team?
Gallman: “It’s going to be really good not playing against our defense. It’ll be good to get back out there with fans in the seats and just play football without the coaches in our face telling us what to do. We always have to keep that focus and know what our job is.”
Q: What kind of advice would you give the freshman, like Feaster, going into a situation like the one you’re going to see in Auburn this weekend?
Gallman: “I haven’t really gotten into that talk yet but all of the freshmen have done a really good job buying into what we have. They’ve done a really good job of taken those mental reps of seeing what we’re doing in practice. They’re learning, watching film and doing the right things. Tavien has been doing a lot of the right things. I’ve tried my best to show him and I think they will be prepared.”
Q: What is the best advice you could give them going into the game?
Gallman: “Trust in yourself. When you have the ball, run it, don’t think too much about it and just do your job.”
Q: What kind of challenge is opening the season with a difficult road game against a well-respected program in a tough environment as opposed to facing a lesser team week one?
Gallman: “I don’t think there is much of a difference. Knowing that we prepare well with Coach Swinney advising practices throughout the week, I think we will be prepared. It’s all just a mindset. We have to win.”