After second-ranked Clemson defeated Boston College on Saturday in Death Valley, it turned its focus to another top 15 matchup as it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to take on No. 12 Virginia Tech. This will mark the third time in the opening five weeks of the season, the Tigers have played a top 15 team.
On Monday the media spoke with co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, center Justin Falcinelli, quarterback Kelly Bryant, linebacker Kendall Joseph, running back Adam Choice, defensive back K’von Wallace and safety Tanner Muse.
Here is what we heard:
“We have a big challenge this week with Virginia Tech,” said Scott. “Obviously we all know their defensive coordinator Bud Foster has one of the best defensive minds in college football. He’s been doing it a long time and the one thing you know about his defense is it doesn’t matter year in and year out when you play him.
“They will have new names and new players in there but his defense will always be physical, they are always going to be disciplined, very sound. They’re not going to give up many big plays. They are going to make you earn everything that you get.”
The Hokies (4-0, 0-0 ACC) will not be the first challenge for Kelly Bryant as Boston College was able to pressure him this past Saturday in Clemson’s victory over the Eagles.
“I think a lot of it had to do with Boston College’s coverage was very good, so Kelly needed a little more time to release the ball,” Falcinelli said. “It’s hard to contain people for that long, so he had to start scrambling to try to make time.”
Bryant knows it’s the third top 15 matchup in five games but he doesn’t worry about the records or the rankings of the other teams.
“I just try to focus on what’s presented right here because when you look ahead you can feel like you’ve skipped some stuff,” he said. “That’s when you allow stuff to get into your head when you’re not really focus on what’s at hand. I don’t try to focus too much on what’s going on around me. I just try to focus on me and this team as well.”
“We don’t care about the rankings,” said Joseph. “No disrespect, but we could care less. That’s just the culture that Coach (Dabo) Swinney preaches. We are worried about us. We don’t really care who we are playing. We have a standard that we play to so we’re excited to go to Blacksburg because the environment is going to be really fun.”
The running back competition has been stiff all year, but Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne have emerged as one and two on the depth chart. However, Adam Choice tries to not let the “buzz” get to him.
“I wouldn’t say it bothers me but at the end of the day we all want to play so we just have to go out and compete,” he said. “Buzz is buzz and it doesn’t have anything to do with production and Coach Swinney and Coach (Tony) Elliott are going to put the player on the field who does the best in practice, who proves himself in practice into the game so at the end of the day you try not to listen to the noise.”
With Clemson potentially having three of its top four cornerbacks out this week due to injury, sophomore K’Von Wallace, who has seen action at safety, said he will be making an adjustment and moving back to corner this week.
“Coach Mike Reed literally just told me like 10 minutes before coming in here that I’m going to be moved back to corner and get some work there and hopefully contribute there,” Wallace said.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables recently said he doesn’t feel as if his defense has their own identity yet and Tanner Muse spoke about that on Monday.
“I think just maybe not the identity he wants, just being all in all the time,” Muse said. “It’s still a work in progress. We’re not even midway through the season. He’s challenging us to create that identity and we’re doing the best we can but I think we’re working.
“Everybody loves each other and I think that’s a huge difference from the team before. Maybe it’s just my experience being here longer with a different team. I feel like we have a good chemistry and I love what we see from our defense.”