By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- In Clemson’s first three wins of the season; it was the Tigers’ offense that sealed the door shut on its opponents. However, in the Tigers’ nail biter win over the Florida State Seminoles tonight, it was Kevin Steele’s defense that made the stop to finish the game, and senior defensive end Andre Branch couldn’t have asked for a better ending to Clemson’s season opener.
“It felt wonderful,” Branch said. “The front four before that last play started, we’ve got to get back in and stop them and that’s what we did.”
Before the Seminole’s last drive, Head Coach Dabo Swinney brought the defense together and told them that Clemson’s fate against Florida State was in their hands.
“Coach told us that it was on us,” Branch said. “We didn’t want to let our team down so we had to go out there as a defense and capitalize.”
Branch believes that the crowd noise also played as a factor during the final minutes of the fourth quarter in riling up freshman starting quarterback Clint Trickett for the Seminoles.
“They definitely had an impact on the game,” Branch said. “Death Valley was rocking the whole game and pretty much riled up the quarterback I felt and we as a defense didn’t want to let anybody down, so we went out there and capitalized.”
Branch believes that the big win over Florida State will motivate the Tigers as they head in to their first road game next week against reigning ACC Champions Virginia Tech.
“Most definitely it does,” Branch said. “It gives us momentum because we’re undefeated right now; we’re a team that can win. A lot of people are against us right now but we believe in ourselves and that’s all that matters.”
Going into today’s game, Florida State was seen as the team to beat in the Atlantic Division, with many media outlets choosing them to win the ACC and possibly compete for the National Championship. Branch however, didn’t focus on the hype surrounding Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles this weekend.
“All you hear is Florida State this and Florida State that,” Branch said. “We heard about what Florida State’s offense was going to do to us but we didn’t focus on it. We went into today’s game wanting to show everyone what Clemson was capable of doing.”
Branch, who is seen as a defensive leader on this young Tigers squad has had a very solid year so far.
“We have to get better defensively,” Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele said. “But I really thought that Branch, Rennie (Moore) and Brandon (Thompson) really stood out to me. They relentlessly kept on working and would not quit.”