There has been much anticipation leading up to the 2017 Clemson football season, but the wait is finally over as the fifth-ranked Clemson Tigers are set to take on Kent St. Saturday at noon in Death Valley.
Monday was the first official press conference of the season and the media heard from co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott along with players Clelin Ferrell, Kelly Bryant, Tanner Muse, Milan Richard and Justin Falcinelli.
Here is what we heard:
“They had a good fall camp,” Scott said on Monday. “I’ve really been pleased with the attitude, work ethic, the focus with our offensive guys. We have a group of guys who are hungry with a lot to prove. I’m really excited to watch them play and get their opportunity on Saturday.”
Many people have been worried about how many key players Clemson lost offensively this past year, but Scott doesn’t seem worried at all. He feels as if the offensive depth of this year’s team is the best it’s been in the nine years that he has been at Clemson as a coach.
“We always like to talk about competition and I think we have one of the deepest groups,” he said. “Even though we might not have as experienced of an offense as we’ve had in the past, I think the depth we have offensively is probably the best that it’s been since I’ve been at Clemson in nine years. I really do, and when you have good depth, it creates good competition.”
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell is pleased with the progressions this year’s team has made and he’s ready to come out strong and determined.
“Come out and do what we want to do,” he said. “Dominate. It’s great to see the progress we’ve made. It’s been a long offseason, but I feel like we have a good dream and the same dream.”
On Saturday junior quarterback Kelly Bryant will make his first career start and although he is slightly anxious, he hasn’t felt much added pressure since being named the starter.
“I’m a little anxious to get the season started off,” Bryant said. “It’s game week so there are good vibes in the air right now. Everybody is ready to get it going. But we still have a full week of preparation to go so we’re not just going to look ahead, we are going to take it one day at a time.”
Safety Tanner Muse is another player who is excited to make his first start Saturday, although he mentioned Monday how he has always practiced and prepared like he was a starter.
“I’ve always worked as hard as I could every day like last year even though I wasn’t the starting guy I prepared as a starter so just taking it the same way I did last year,” he said. “Just knowing that at any moment I could be the second guy, I could be the third guy but my work ethic is going to stay the same.”
Along with Bryant and Muse, Milan Richard will also be making his first start at tight end while Justin Falcinelli starts at center.
“It’s going to be special,” said Richard. “It’s definitely been a long time coming, I think. So it’s going to be special. I’m going to be nervous, but after a play or two in we’ll be fine.”
Falcinelli knows he’s on a big stage now but he is confident he will perform and the offensive line will perform and mesh well.
“I know that there is a lot expected of me and I need to perform to that standard,” he said. “I’ve been playing with these guys my entire time here. We are all great friends; we are all hanging out here. I played next to Taylor (Hearn) my freshman year, I played next to Tyrone (Crowder), Maverick (Morris), I’ve been swapped in a lot. I feel like I just fit right in. Just keep going.”