It is Rivalry Week in Clemson, and Monday brought a day full of interviews with players and coaches discussing what the rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson means to them.
Here is what we heard:
When South Carolina enters Death Valley on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, which will be televised on ESPN, it will mean something different to each member of the team. However, every player knows the magnitude of the Clemson-South Carolina Rivalry.
“It’s a rivalry game. We have a lot of guys from the state of South Carolina and a lot of guys from the state of Georgia who move into the state and understand what it’s about,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “Ben Boulware is going to let them know what this game means to him. So, I think just the fact that it’s a rivalry game, there’s a lot on the line, and they understand that. For a while we were on the lower end of this and we’re trying to get if shifted back in our perspective.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson said all the records get thrown out the door when Clemson and South Carolina face off because the only goal is to win.
“Forget the records and forget all the stats and all that stuff. This is one of those games that you just want to win to have the bragging rights for 365 days and be able to prove you are the better team,” Watson said.
While the consensus is unanimous on the desire to win, Clemson’s players have varying views on other aspects of the game such as trash talking.
“I love it,” Wilkins said about the trash talking. “I love those games where it’s really intense, and I’m a trash talker myself, so I like it when other teams are coming at me. It just makes the game more fun, more exciting. Just gives you a little bit more drive to shut them up or something like that.”
Running back Wayne Gallman knows it is all part of the game, but he does not pay too much attention to it.
“It gets really intense. Those players really try to come out and there is a whole lot more smack talk and stuff like that but I just smile at that type of stuff.”
While it may be surprising to some, linebacker Ben Boulware said he’d prefer there to be less trash talking going on because he’d rather exert his energy making plays than worrying about coming up with new ammo and yelling it across the field.
“Louisville, there was a bunch of trash talk, Florida State, it was kind of but not really. Wake Forest, those guys are super cool dudes. I was talking to their offensive line the entire time. The running back was a great guy. It is just fun. It makes the game go by much more smoother. It takes so much energy to trash talk,” he said. “Like Louisville, I was so drained because you are having to think of a new catchy line to tell them and it is just draining. It takes a lot of energy out of you.
“I would much rather have a casual conversation during a game like I did Wake Forest, so I am hoping for the same thing against South Carolina. I don’t want to trash talk. I don’t feel like it. It takes way too much energy out of me. I am hoping for some great conversations on the game Saturday night.”