Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph spoke with the media on Tuesday afternoon as the third-ranked Tigers preview Saturday’s Homecoming Game against NC State.
Question: Is it going to be good to get back into a routine, no more Thursday or Friday games, just getting back into a regular routine again?
Kendall: “Yes sir it will be. That was a tough stretch we had to go through playing real late night games and play on Thursday one week and Friday one week. So just getting back into the regular flow of things, having a full week of practice and our bodies being able to recover is going to be huge for us.”
Question: Does it help knowing you have a bye week coming up, just one more game to get through before that?
Kendall: “Yes sir. A lot of players are looking forward to it to kind of renew our minds, renew our bodies, take a deep breath and we’ll be at the half way point I guess for the season so it will be great for us mentally and physically as well.”
Question: Coach (Dabo) Swinney was talking about how great the fans are, but do you like playing the day games as opposed to the night games, as opposed to the atmosphere?
Kendall: “I like them both but I like day games a little better because I feel like Death Valley’s still rocking no matter what time. Louisville was obviously a really rare occasion, it was just crazy loud the whole entire game but I feel like for the most part the fans show up and show out, they bring a lot of energy. But us just being able to wake up and not have to sit in a hotel room all day is just big for us.”
Question: What’s the challenge with facing a quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes, I don’t think he has an interception this year, how do you guys feel about trying to rattle a guy like that?
Kendall: “By watching film, you can see he’s really poised, he makes great throws, he has a big arm, he makes good decisions so we’ll just have to be really sound in our defense. They do a lot of different motions, a lot of different things going on at one time so you just have to find your keys, keep your eye on your man, do your job, because he’s going to make throws and makes plays as well but we have to make sure we get pressure on him and try to force him to some bad decisions.”
Question: Y’all do a pretty good job of not looking past the next opponent, but when you see that they’re coming off of a win against Notre Dame, does that kind of get your attention a little bit?
Kendall: “Yes sir. That was a great win for them, a really big win for their program. Just watching tape, they have a great offense and a great defense, I think they have 17 starters back. I mean, they gave us our money’s worth last year so they’re coming to win the game and we know we have to take them seriously because they are a very good opponent.”
Question: How difficult is it for the defense when the offense is scoring at a lightning quick pace, scoring like 5 touchdowns in 2 and a half total minutes and 12 plays, against Louisville you played about 100 snaps as a defense and it seemed like y’all were getting a little worn out towards the end.
Kendall: “It’s a love and hate thing. I’d rather the offense score if it’s one play, it’s like a congratulations to us, we give the ball back to them. We’re scoring points, that’s the objective of the game. It can become a little tiring but we’ll definitely take the points over a long drive with no points.”
Question: Boulware came out yesterday and addressed some thoughts after the Louisville game and the targeting that was taken back that he was a dirty player. I want to get your impressions of anyone that thinks Ben might play the game over the line.
Kendall: “He plays it how it’s supposed to be played, it’s football. Like he said in his interviews, this is footfall man. This is a violent game, a physical game and if you go out there lollygagging and floating around somebody is going to make you feel it. Linebacker is a rough position and you can’t be soft, you can’t play soft, you can’t play nice. You have to get the job done, whatever that means. He hasn’t been kicked out of the game, so he plays good to me. We love his attitude and the edge he brings to our defense sets the tone or the whole defense. That’s our leader and he’s going to keep playing how he’s playing. The way he has played is who he is right now and where he is as a player, so you can’t change that.”
Question: Is he (Ben Boulware) by far the edgiest player you’ve been around during your years at Clemson?
Kendall: “Yes sir. He just as that edge to him, that mentality and that just comes from all the hard work he’s put in. When you put in as much hard work as he has put in, on game day you’re ready to take someone’s head off, you’re ready to make all that hard work pay off. So that’s how he plays the game.
Question: You’ve had some games where tight ends have managed to get some yardage against you, obviously the national championship game last year was a big deal, I know the guy from Louisville had some catches this year, N.C. State has a couple of guys, how do you go about defending these guys that aren’t maybe your traditional down field threat receivers but you need to watch out for on an offense like this?
Kendall: “We prepare for it every week. It’s about doing our job and doing what coach prepared us to see. It’s nothing we haven’t seen, but we have to make sure we have sound eyes, keep our eyes on our man and do our job. Hopefully we won’t let anybody free. It’ll come down to great eye discipline and doing your job.”
Question: A guy like Jaylen Samuels for them that does line up all over the place, how much of a challenge could that be in terms of how much he can do, how you have to prepare for a guy like that?
Kendall: “He’s a great player. He pops up on tape, they get the ball to him any way they can. Even last year, he had a really great game against us. He’s a special athlete, so he definitely has our respect. We’re going to have to dial in, recognize here he is at all times on the field and make sure we’re doing our job on defense.”
Question: Dabo said just a little bit ago that last year was the worst performance defensively of the year for you guys. Does that add anything to your motivation heading in to the game? Do you look back at that at all?
Kendall: “I wasn’t playing much that game, but it was very sloppy and a lot of big plays, too many big plays. For the most part, we did ok. But, the big plays will kill you and they killed us last year. So, we can’t allow the big plays. We took it personally and we’ve seen the tape. I watched the game last night to just kind of get an idea of what they’re doing and it was just big plays here and there. That kills the defense, it kills the momentum of the defense. So we’re really locked in. We’re looking forward to a way better performance this year.”
Question: What was scene like in the room when you guys reviewed that tape from last year?
Kendall: “It’s never good. Especially when you’re just giving big plays. You work so hard, you’re getting off the field here and there, you get them to third down and it’s a blown assignment. That kills the defense. So you have to stay focused the whole game and lock in every down because only a few plays can kill you on defense and that’s definitely what happened last year.”