By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Contrary to what some may believe, Clemson’s right guard Landon Walker believes that he and the rest of the players on Clemson’s offensive line do a great job of getting after guys up front quickly, something that they will need to continue to do against the speedy Florida State defense that will be coming into Death Valley Saturday, trying to break the Tigers undefeated streak.
“Obviously Florida State’s defensive line has defined their team since I’ve been here at Clemson,” Walker said. “When you watch them on film, they’re very fast, they get after the ball and attack, that’s the Florida State mentality, I don’t care who the D-Coordinator is there, that’s what it will always be like.”
Going into this game, Walker knows that Clemson’s offense line has to attack Florida State’s defense and give them a dose of their own medicine, making sure that they cannot make a big play on the ball by continuing to play fast and physical.
“I think we do a great job of getting after guys real fast up front,” Walker said. “I think we do a really good job when we do have speed guys like Brandon Jenkins on the edge, in the years past we’ve done a great job of controlling those types of guys.”
Instead of focusing on the criticism that the offensive line has gotten so far this season from both Clemson fans and the media, Walker continues to only focus on what he and the rest of the offensive line can control.
“Others might not see exactly what we see when we watch film, and watch the game afterwards,” Walker said. “We had a great game against Auburn, obviously. I think we played very physical up front and that’s something that we’ll continue to take into every week.”
Although the win against Auburn was a big victory for the Tigers, Walker and the rest of the team know that this week’s preparation will be more intense, being that this weekend is the first week of conference play for both Clemson and Florida State, and whoever wins this game will be in the driver’s seat for the time being for the Atlantic Division.
“Starting ACC play this week, we’ve got to turn the intensity up a notch,” Walker said. “We’ve got to take another step every week and improve every game. I think especially this past week we’ve done a good job at that.”
Walker knows that the young freshmen who have contributed so far to Clemson’s success this season will continue to be a factor as the season progresses and will continue to improve as they gain more game experience.
“As we get into our ACC schedule, our young guys will only continue to improve,” Walker said. “We’ll look like a better team at the end of the season than we did against Auburn.”
Confidence is one thing that Walker and the rest of the team took out of their win against Auburn. They learned that their team could compete with any team, and even come back from a 14 point deficit twice and win a game.
“When you play teams that you’re better than, that you’re supposedly supposed to beat, you don’t get much out of it because you’re supposed to win those games,” Walker said. “When you play teams like Auburn and Florida State, and are able to be physical and come away with a win, that gains confidence.”
In the past few years, Florida State and Clemson have been atop the Atlantic Division of the ACC, and with a win on Saturday; Walker knows that although it doesn’t solidify the Tigers as the Atlantic Division Champion, it gets them one step closer to that goal.
“Usually the winner of the Atlantic is Florida State or Clemson,” Walker said. “What we can do to control that this week is just show up with that mentality, knowing how big of a game this is for us. Every game’s important but this one is very important.”
What Walker has seen from his teammates after the Auburn win is that Clemson is not a team that gets big-headed after a big win.
“We’re a very humble team,” Walker said. “Of course we celebrated the win on Saturday night but now we’re taking everything that we can from that win to get better. Even though we had 600 and some yards total offense there was still so much left out on the field in the few three and outs we had. That’s the mentality that we’re taking into this next game, we don’t want to leave any yardage out on the field.”
Walker feels like a win against Florida State on Saturday would be very satisfying to this young Clemson team, mainly because Florida State is favored to win the ACC this year.
“They’re predicted to be the ACC Champions,” Walker said. “So when you can beat the team that everyone thinks will be the ACC Champions, especially being physical with the pass and all of that. If you can come away with a win from that, it’s a very good thing.”
Although the Florida State game this weekend is a very important one for the Tigers, Walker knows how important it is to prepare for every game with that physical mentality that they had going into the Auburn game.
“You’ve got to prepare for every game with the same mentality and not look past any opponent. In the ACC anyone can give you a hard time any week, it doesn’t matter who it is. If you come into a game week with the mentality that you’re looking over somebody and into the next week, that’s when you get smacked in the face.”