By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
Much has been made of the difficult task Clemson’s defense has ahead of it against a talented, explosive Georgia offense on August 31. Grady Jarrett doesn’t care.
Much has been made about Georgia’s power running game and two monster tailbacks. Grady Jarrett doesn’t care.
Much has been made of the preparation and special attention Clemson will need to pay in order to beat the Bulldogs. Quite frankly—and not surprisingly—Grady Jarrett doesn’t care.
Grady Jarrett’s only concern is his team, his unit, his own performance. He feels Clemson is good enough, regardless of opponent, to come out on top.
“At the end of the day, we’re all playing football,” Jarrett said. “If you can beat the guy and fulfill your job with the coaches within the gameplan we have for that week, if you can get that done, it shouldn’t matter who you’re going against.”
The quiet swagger comes from a rather unassuming physical specimen in Jarrett, who dealt with questions about his short stature throughout the recruiting process and in college. But inside such an exterior is a burning desire to compete that transcends opponent, scheme, and implication.
“I just like playing, man,” Jarrett said. “I like to play what I’ve got this week. If teams do different things, I’ll be prepared for anything.”
It’s not that Jarrett doesn’t respect Georgia or its potential to make life difficult for the Tiger defense. On the contrary, he says the Bulldogs are a very good squad.
But he also says he has seen tough competition on a daily basis against an offensive front that is deep and talented and has been helpful in getting the Tigers ready for battle on defense.
“We’ve got people on the second-team offensive line that could start,” Jarrett said. “We’ve got people on the second-team defensive line that could start. When we’ve got that depth going at each other, that’s just making us both better.”
Jarrett has quietly become the constant force on a shifting defensive line structure. Different players have risen and fallen, been praised and criticized, but Jarrett has remained steady. Defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks has singled Jarrett out specifically for his consistency.
According to Jarrett, this comes from a confidence drawn from the ability to focus on his job without being preoccupied with what his teammates are up to at the same time.
“It’s really comforting to have somebody there that you can know has your back that can play just as well as you,” he said. “You just go out there not worrying about somebody else messing up because you know the other person knows what they’re doing.”
Playing an opponent like Georgia can be intimidating for a student-athlete, so Jarrett’s quiet strength and willingness to meet a worthy adversary head-on is reassuring for those looking to find leadership among the Clemson defenders. Jarrett says the best thing about facing the Bulldogs is that they will be wearing different colors, something he hasn’t been able to say about an opponent since the calendar turned.
“We’re tired of hitting our own offensive line,” Jarrett said. “We’re ready to go hit some other people.”
“Other people” includes Georgia, but Jarrett doesn’t care who it is. He’s just ready to ignite the fire within and see how he can execute his plan to the best of his ability.