By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- When Clemson’s quarterback Tajh Boyd went down on Saturday in the Tigers’ matchup against Boston College, at first defensive end Kourtnei Brown wasn’t sure who went down, but when he realized it was Tajh he knew that the best thing for him to do as a teammate was to remain calm.
“I just wanted to remain calm along with everyone else, we wanted Cole (Stoudt) to know that we believed in him,” Brown said. “We believe in all of our backups, we hated to see Tajh go down like that but its football and we had to keep it moving.”
During the Tigers’ defeat over Virginia Tech, Brown was quick to find the ESPN camera crew and shout “We’re going to make you believers” and he believes that after six straight wins, three of them being over highly ranked teams, the Clemson Tigers are starting to do just that.
“We’re doing pretty good on that, we work really hard every week,” Brown said. “I feel like as long as we continue to work hard and believe in each other and the coaches, with our fans behind us, I don’t think that’ll change I think we can keep winning.”
As for his personal confidence, Brown thinks of himself as the best defensive end on the field whenever he steps onto the gridiron.
“I believe in myself every time I step on the field,” Brown said. “The way I see it, I’m the best end at that time, whenever I’m in the game regardless or whenever I come out of the game. I just have to continue to work hard and not let go.”
Brown gives credit to his continuous improvement on the field to the Tigers’ new defensive ends coach Marion Hobby.
“Coach Hobby has helped me a lot in so many areas,” Brown said. “He’s helped me understand the game, formations and stuff, learning how to adjust to certain things. I was young when I started here; I started playing football in 10th grade. There were a lot of things I had to learn and I still have a lot to learn but Coach Hobby has helped me tremendously.”
Over the past few weeks, Clemson’s defense has controlled games whereas in the beginning of the season, it seemed like our defense and poor tackling was the weak spot of Clemson’s program. What changed?
“I just think guys are buying into the system,” Brown said. “Not that they really didn’t want to do it in the past, but it’s an urgency now. The guys are working hard and continuing to believe in each other and just really buying in. Winning does help to get guys to buy in, but I know that if we were having a losing season right now, we’d still be fighting.”
Players are often asked what the difference is in this year’s team that wasn’t present last season when the Tigers ended with 6-7 and with a bad taste in their mouth.
“That’s a good question,” Brown said. “I don’t really see a different team, besides the new freshmen we have but I don’t see a difference. It’s the same guys; we work the same, work hard every day, as far as the tempo, guys flying around more, that’s different. We’re just finding a way to win those close games that we didn’t last year.”
As far as the new tempo Clemson’s offense is working with, Brown has seen a difference in the defense’s tempo through playing against them.
“It helps us a lot more,” Brown said. “When Coach Morris came here immediately there was a change in the tempo, I got winded a couple of times, I knew right away that this was going to be really special. I appreciate Coach Morris and everything he’s been doing with the offense.”
Brown expects that Clemson’s next road test, the Maryland Terrapins will be another tough contest, as they’ve been a very competitive team against the Tigers in years past.
“They’re a great team, they’ve always had a good team,” Brown said. “I know it’s not going to be easy going to their place, but I’m looking forward to it. I know they’re preparing for us just as much as we’re preparing for them.”
The last time Clemson played in Byrd Stadium, in Coach Swinney’s words the Tigers “laid an egg,” however Brown insisted that 2011 is a new year and that he and his teammates aren’t thinking about the 2009 contest while preparing for Saturday.
“Well I try not to bank on stuff like that because it’s a new year,” Brown said. “We lost to teams last year that we’ve beaten already this year, it’s a game of football so you’ve got to prepare the best you can and just show up and play.”