The No. 2 Clemson Tigers conquered one of their biggest challenges of the season this past weekend as they defeated Auburn in Death Valley. It’s now onto an even bigger battle as they hit the road to face the No. 14 Louisville Cardinals in ABC’s Primetime game this Saturday at 8 p.m. at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
The Tigers’ defense, who has not allowed a touchdown in two games, will be going head to head with last year’s Heisman Trophy winner in Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, arguably the most dynamic player in college football.
On Monday the media spoke with co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, defensive end Austin Bryant, cornerback Ryan Carter, quarterback Kelly Bryant and left tackle Mitch Hyatt. Here is what we heard about this week’s exciting matchup:
“Our goal is to obviously go out and score as many points as we can,” said Scott. “I think offensively as coaches, as we are game planning those type of things we kind of know the temperature of the game, what you’re playing against, and there’s no doubt Louisville has an explosive offense. Last year was a great display of two explosive offenses going back and forth. We’ve got a good defense and they’ve got a really good defense as well so it’s going to be another big challenge.”
Jackson’s athleticism, ability to extend plays and make defenders miss him are just a few characteristics that make him such a tough opponent for any defense.
“He is as dynamic of a runner as they come,” said Ferrell. “Very athletic, quick twitch guy that can make any move. That whole offense goes off of him and they’ve given him the key and it’s his third year so that just makes it even harder.”
“We just know he is a really good quarterback and he can do a lot of different things with the football,” O’Daniel said. “So we have to respect his game and not take it for granted.”
Austin Bryant understands Jackson is a challenge, but he’s not worried because of the high standard Clemson faces in Kelly Bryant each day in practice.
“(Jackson) can make plays with his feet and his arm,” Bryant said. “He’s a special talent. It’s going to be a challenge, but we face Kelly Bryant every day in practice, so it should be like practice in a game atmosphere.”
As impactful as Jackson is, he’s certainly not the only one to keep an eye on. Ryan Carter said it’s so important to thoroughly study the Cardinals’ wide receivers this week and prepare for what they bring to the table as well.
“I definitely think they are going to bring great energy as far as their technique,” he said. “I had a little bit of a chance to watch them against North Carolina (this past weekend) and they did a lot of big things. A lot of things that we are going to have to try to watch on film and study them and make sure that we will be able to limit them and things that Lamar Jackson is able to do.”
Saturday will be a true test for Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant as he experiences not only his first road start but does so under the lights in a tough atmosphere. Going up against a three-year veteran and Heisman Trophy winner can obviously be intimidating, but it’s not to Bryant.
“I don’t try to think about it like that,” he said. “I just try to be Kelly B., and I try not to get into all of that because that’s when the pressure comes in. Just trying to do too much… so I’m just going to try to do my job and play my best game.”
Hyatt along with the rest of the team has full confidence in Bryant and proof that he can handle demanding situations as he showed in the way he played against Auburn.
“I’ve always had confidence in Kelly and the whole team has,” he said. “We’ve had confidence, but (his performance against Auburn) was reassuring.”