Coming off of a victory over Georgia Tech, the fifth-ranked Clemson Tigers have one goal in mind … winning the Atlantic division. The only thing standing between the team and that goal is this Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. matchup at No. 19 N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C.
On Monday the media spoke with quarterback Kelly Bryant, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, offensive lineman Sean Pollard and defensive end Austin Bryant. Here is what we heard:
Despite playing Georgia Tech last Saturday in an absolute downpour, the Tigers embraced the weather conditions and made the most of the situation. Kelly Bryant recalls one specific memory he will not forget.
“It was a blast to play in the rain,” Bryant said. “Sliding up and down the field, see all the guys sliding up and down the field as well. One image that I won’t forget was a draw and Mitch Hyatt was trying to block a safety. All I can remember is him sliding from the hash all the way to the sidelines. That was pretty funny. It was great getting back out there.”
Clemson’s defense was also having fun on the field Saturday night, which O’Daniel felt was a must, coming off of a Syracuse loss and a bye week. They needed to get their energy and momentum back.
“That was a challenge this week, just to get back to who we were and ultimately just having fun,” he said. “The best thing about it in my opinion is just that we didn’t have to force it.
“Guys out there were genuinely having fun and I feel like whenever you have a team that is having fun and guys are making plays, that’s what it’s all about. It’s contagious. It rubs off on your other teammates so it’s a good feeling.”
As enjoyable as Saturday may have been, the Tigers will have their hands full this Saturday with the overall physicality of this Wolfpack team.
“I can’t remember a time where we’ve played a team that has had all seven of the front seven who were either seniors or red shirt seniors,” said Scott. “This is a talented group that has a lot of experience. They’ve really been building towards this year since Coach (Dave) Doeren’s got there.
“These guys are very impressive on video. I know (Bradley) Chubb has seven and a half sacks already, very disruptive up front and they just have a combination of talent and experience and that’s one reason they’re having the success they’re having. Very physical. They make you earn everything that you get.”
The 3:30 p.m. kickoff breaks Clemson’s streak of night-time road games, but the Tigers aren’t paying attention to that. According to Pollard, they will play anytime, anywhere.
“We don’t play for a game time here,” said Pollard. “If they want us to play at two in the morning, we’ll play at two in the morning, it doesn’t matter. If they want us to play in a parking lot we will. Clemson is built to show up and play at any time so I’m not worried about the time.”
Austin Bryant knows how critical of a matchup this upcoming game will be, but Clemson is known for handling big situations with poise and dominance, two factors they will certainly need to bring into the game.
“This is a powerful game and you want to be the best,” said Bryant. “So you have to perform the best. They’re considered one of the best, we’re considered one of the best by many people so it’s just about being able to perform when the lights come on, so we’re definitely looking forward to that.”