Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel is looking forward to tonight’s game in Atlanta when the third-ranked Tigers take on Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
In his first two games against the Yellow Jackets he has played very well, including in 2014 in Atlanta when he led the team with 10 tackles.
Question: Georgia Tech is always a fun game for you and one of those games where you shine. Why is that? What about their offense lets you get involved in so many tackles?
O’Daniel: “I’d have to say probably just my instincts. It’s a see ball, get ball mentality. Obviously, I have to trust and read my keys, but after I do that assignment just getting to the ball whether it’s the quarterback or him pitching it I think my instincts allow me to get to the ball.”
Q: How much pressure is there because if you read it wrong and it’s pitched, or the quarterback keeps it and takes the pitch-guy for a big play?
O’Daniel: “Yea those are touchdown mistakes so that’s the biggest part about this game plan. Trusting your key and understanding your role in the option and who do you have whether the QB pitches it or keeps it or hands it off. Just really being locked in on your assignment and trusting the next guy to do his job.”
Q: What do you remember the most about that game two years ago?
O’Daniel: “I remember not practicing much that week because I was a backup. BJ Goodson going down around probably the second quarter and I knew he was hurt because the play before he came out it was just one of those player moments you know and I’m so nervous and sure enough he came out. Coach Venables came up to me and was like “Hey you’re up”. I was definitely nervous but just paying attention maybe not getting the physical reps but the mental reps during that week definitely made me feel more sure of myself. That was my first playing time, and although we lost the game it was a very memorable game for me. I recorded my first college sack and it set me up for moving forward.”
Q: Have you been able to impart some of your expertise against Georgia Tech to some of the younger guys or guys who haven’t seen much of GT. Guys such as Tre Lamar, Kendall Joseph, Jalen Williams and guys like that?
O’Daniel: “Yeah going through the game prep this week talking to Jalen just how they run the veer and how the quarterback, what he’ll do whenever he’s in the pocket. Just tendencies I picked up on early on that have held true. I’ve just been sharing some of those with the guys each practice.”
Q: You’ve played the most defense of any of these guys against Georgia Tech do you feel the responsibility to kind of lead this defense on Thursday?
O’Daniel: “I mean I’ll lead as best as I can but everyone has a roll to do. Just focus on my assignment and what I can do to prevent them from scoring any points.”
Q: Three-and-outs have been a big part of this Clemson defense the last 3 years or so, actually you’ve led the nation. How important is that going into a game like this and how hard is it that when they get in fourth-and-short situations they often go for it?
O’Daniel: “It’s critical. This whole week the coaching staff has been preaching to us how critical time of possession is. GT is one of those teams that the longer they have the ball, the longer they’ll try to run out the clock, and the harder it will be for opposing teams to score with time remaining. So making sure we can get not 3 and outs, 4 and outs because like you said they like to go for it on 4th down, 4th and short, and even 4th and long they’ll go for it. They’re at home so they’ll have the advantage. We just have to be ready.”