Saturday night at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., second-ranked Clemson did what it does best and dominated on the road with a 31-17 victory over No. 12 Virginia Tech, making the Tigers the first ever team to defeat three top 15 teams before the month of October.
The Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) return home Saturday for a noon kickoff with Wake Forest. On Monday the media spoke with quarterback Kelly Bryant, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, offensive tackle Sean Pollard, offensive tackle Maverick Morris, linebacker J.D. Davis and cornerback Mark Fields. This is what we heard:
Kelly Bryant came into the season with so many questioning whether or not he would be able to fill the shoes of Deshaun Watson and through the first five games of the season, he seems to be handling the challenge calm and collectively. Now the bright lights aren’t just on him on the field but also around campus as well.
“I’ve always been a guy that says hello to people,” said Bryant. “But I’ll be in the hallways getting ready for class, and somebody may walk by with a camera and take a picture of me. That’s probably like the weirdest thing I’ve seen. I mean, it’s not weird, but at least let me smile or something before you take a picture.”
Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is not surprised at all by the performances Bryant has showed.
“He has always had a calm, collected, quiet demeanor about himself,” said Elliott. “He’s loose enough to keep the other guys around him lose but he’s also focused enough, so to see him perform in two big venues on the road with a lot of adversity, the way he responded is a testament to who he is and I think it goes back to how he’s been brought up, where he comes from, and the character of the young man.”
Clemson now begins preparation for Wake Forest who has played well this year. At 4-1 the Demon Deacons are coming off of a heartbreaking loss to Florida State and Elliott feels they will present a challenge as they have one of the deepest defensive lines the Tigers will face.
“They have a ton of depth. They have a ton of experience,” the Clemson coach said. “Their front seven looks like all those guys are returning starters at some point from last year.”
Clemson offensive tackle Sean Pollard talked about how facing his own defense each day in practice has helped him and the rest of the offensive line become more physical at the point of attack.
“If you don’t get your pad down, you’ll get popped,” Pollard said. “That’s one thing that we’ve learned. If your technique isn’t where it’s supposed to be, our defense will exploit it quick. Our practice field, we do good-on-good, so you’ll get exploited on our practice field if you’re not up to par that day. So it just makes you stay on your A-game.”
Linebacker J.D. Davis, who had a career-high 13 tackles against the Hokies, discussed what it feels like to not only be a part of the team with his twin brother Judah, but also follow in his dad, Jeff Davis’ footsteps. The elder was an All-American at Clemson as well and was the captain of the 1981 National Championship team.
“One of the biggest reasons I came (to Clemson) was because I wanted to play where my dad did,” said Davis. “I loved watching him. I’ve grown up watching here in Clemson. There is nothing like it so it’s just been amazing.”