By Will Vandervort
It seemed like yesterday when Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey walked into the WestZone at Memorial Stadium and saw that the countdown clock said, “180 days” until the Aug. 31 game against No. 5 Georgia.
Well, that was 161 days ago. Now, it’s down to less than three weeks. The eighth-ranked Tigers only have 19 days left before they battle the Bulldogs in primetime (8 p.m.) on ABC.
“It is definitely coming fast and we have to take every day and make it count, and be the best we can be,” Shuey said Monday.
It’s the most anticipated season opener at Clemson in years as ESPN’s College GameDay will be in town to promote the second ever meeting of top 10 teams at Death Valley. The Clemson-Georgia game is considered to be the best game in the country in the opening weekend of the college football season.
“It is something that has been on my mind since the last snap of the LSU game,” defensive tackle D. J. Reader said. “We think about them every day. It’s our main focus. It’s the top goal.”
Shuey says he can stop thinking about the match up. He says he goes to sleep thinking about the Bulldogs and wakes up thinking about them.
“The closer it gets, it just makes every practice a little bit more important,” he said. “You can’t waste a day.”
Defenseless? Ever since Chandler Catanzaro’s field goal went through the upright to give the Tigers the win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, everyone has been talking about the Clemson-Georgia game. And for the most, all anyone is talking about is Clemson’s offense vs. Georgia’s offense. Very little has been said about the defensive units for both teams and when they are mentioned, it is usually has a negative connotation to it.
Though the defense got better as the season went along, the Tigers still yielded an average of 396.2 yards per game in 2012. Georgia’s numbers were much better, but with the loss of several starters and so many young players having to play this season, many around the country figure the defenses will be defenseless in this game.
Shuey says he can’t speak for Georgia’s defense, but he says that does not bother the Tigers any.
“We had a great finish against an SEC offense in the bowl and we will have a lot of momentum going into this game, but we really can’t control what people talk about,” he said. “We just try to keep our heads down as a defense and focus on what we can.”
Baseball talk. Reader says he enjoyed playing baseball this past spring. He said he had a lot of fun and learned a lot of things.
“It is always good to go and play for great head coaches like (Jack Leggett),” he said. “I just kind of soaked it in because you can never get enough coaching in your life no matter what you are doing. It was a really good experience.”
As for playing baseball in 2014, Reader isn’t too sure what he is going to do, yet.
“I have not sat down with my parents, yet,” he said. “I’m going to kind of wait and see how this (football) season goes.”
Pain in the butt. Defensive back Martin Jenkins has missed some practice time in camp because of arthritis in his buttocks area. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Martin’ injury is not related to the hip surgery he had last year.
The doctors have determined it’s a genetic issue. His father suffers from the same thing. Right now Martin is trying to balance out the proper medicines to ease the pain and be able to function on the field on a regular basis.
Swinney said freshman cornerback Adrian Baker’s knee injury seems to be better than they first thought. Swinney says they feel the injury isn’t a serious one. He had an MRI Monday afternoon and the results should be back Tuesday morning.
Freshman corner Mackensie Alexander returned to practice after suffering from a groin injury he aggravated prior to camp. He was in a green jersey Monday night and did some situational stuff, but he was not involved in any hitting.
Swinney said the goal is to get Alexander involved in some situational scrimmage work by Wednesday.
Corner back Garry Peters (ankle) was back to work and participated in both practices Monday, while fellow corner Darius Robinson (concussion) worked out, but was in a yellow jersey. With concussions schools have to go by a protocol. Clemson hopes Robinson will be in a green jersey on Tuesday.
Yellow jersey means players cannot participate in any drills. Freshmen wide receiver T.J. Green (knee) may be able to come to work this week as well, according to Swinney.