When third-ranked Clemson clashes with No. 12 Florida State on Saturday night, it will be Kendall Joseph’s first time playing the Seminoles in Tallahassee.
But don’t expect the redshirt sophomore linebacker to be fazed by the atmosphere inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
“I’ve always liked playing on the road and having that feeling like you’re the enemy,” said Joseph, who was redshirting when Clemson last played at Florida State in 2014. “It kind of gives you a little extra edge that you need.
“Some people never really like playing away, but I like it. I like feeling like the enemy. If you’re dominating and the crowd’s quiet, it’s just a great feeling.”
Statistically speaking, something has to give in the game on Saturday.
Clemson heads into Saturday’s contest having lost its last four games on the road in Tallahassee since 2006, when the Tigers won on a 1-yard run by James Davis with just eight seconds remaining.
Overall, Clemson has won only once in Tallahassee since Florida State joined the ACC in 1992, and the Tigers are 3-12 all-time at Florida State.
However, Clemson is riding its own impressive streak to Tallahassee.
Clemson has won eight straight road games on the opponent’s home field, which is tied for the longest streak of its kind in school history and the fifth-longest active streak in the nation behind Alabama (10) and Oklahoma, North Carolina and Iowa (9).
Clemson hasn’t lost a true road game since November 2014 at Georgia Tech.
“We don’t want to be that kind of team that’s high on the road and low at home, or vice versa, so really we try to dominate each game,” said Joseph, who leads Clemson with 65 total tackles, is second on the team with six tackles for loss and is tied for fourth with seven quarterback hurries.
“But I think we do feed off being in enemy territory and having our backs against the wall. We do feed off that, especially as a defense.”
Joseph pointed out one factor that will be in Clemson’s favor as it tries to break the school record for consecutive road wins (the 1978-79 team also won eight straight on the road).
Whereas the crowd at Death Valley is deafening when Clemson is on defense — aiding the Tigers but making it difficult for them to communicate — relaying signals, clarifying assignments and other correspondence won’t be a problem Saturday.
“That’s huge because here, at home games, you can’t hear hardly,” Joseph said. “The D-linemen can’t hear you when you’re trying to make calls. It’s kind of tough, and then with it being an away game, it’s more quiet when we’re on defense and they’re on offense. So, that definitely helps with communication.”
Don’t get Joseph wrong, though. He would rather make plays to the delight of 80,000-plus fans in Death Valley.
It’s just that he and the defense also feel at home on the road.
“You love that roaring. You love the ground shaking and the crowd going crazy,” Joseph said of playing at home. “But you feed off of just shutting that crowd up when you’re on away games. It’s a great feeling.”