Saturday’s game between No. 13 Auburn seems more like a season opener than a second game to Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel. The senior also expressed his excitement for playing Auburn again and he hopes the third-ranked Tigers will be able to prove themselves once again to all the doubters.
Question: Did Kent State kind of remind you of playing against Georgia Tech at times?
O’Daniel: “In some ways yes, we definitely were not expecting that much triple option. Coach (Brent) Venables had us ready and we made some adjustments.”
Question: How important do you think it was to adjust really quickly to Kent State’s offense?
O’Daniel: “I think that says a lot about our defense. Just being able to react and make adjustments that quickly. I’m sure Kent State didn’t expect us to react so quickly. Credit to our defense and coaching staff for preparing us.”
Question: How much different do you think Auburn’s offense is going to be this year with the new quarterback rather than last year in the opener?
O’Daniel: “They have definitely made some strides. They got a new quarterback. He is very good. He can throw the ball and he can run so you have to respect him on his feet and in the passing game. He presents a good challenge. That’s what football is about and that’s why we came to Clemson. We came here to compete at the highest level and I am looking forward to doing that on Saturday night.”
Question: Their quarterback, are you guys going to watch what he did at Baylor or what he has done so far at Auburn?
O’Daniel: “Mostly what they have done at Auburn. They got a new offensive coordinator so we know there is going to be some wrinkles from when he was coaching at other places but I am sure there will be some carryover. We just have to respect the game plan and study film and get locked in.”
Question: Does this seem more like a season opener than a second game because they really didn’t show much in their tape?
O’Daniel: “We knew they were going to try and keep it pretty vanilla. No team wants to put all of their bread and butter on tape for their opponent to scout. You have to take that into consideration but just from film studies and their tendencies in formations we are going to just have to adjust.”
Question: What do you think about those running backs? How difficult are they going to be to take to the ground?
O’Daniel: That comes with technique. Hit hard, hit low and wrap up and you should be all right. They have a big physical back (Kamryn Pettway). He doesn’t go down on first contact. Collectively as a defense, we are going to have to gang tackle as a unit. Play hard, play fast.
Question: Are you guys expecting Johnson to play?
O’Daniel: “We are not really sure. Just keeping the game plan as if he is still playing. If he is not, then so be it but as of now we are treating it as if he is still playing.”
Question: How much does it help having that game under you guys’ belt from last week?
O’Daniel: “It’s definitely a good confidence booster but that’s in the past. That’s in the rear view. It’s all about Auburn. The next game is the biggest game no matter who it is, whether it is Kent State or Auburn. I am just really looking forward and excited to get in on this game plan and play a tough opponent.”
Question: You guys tend to feed off the crowd. Does it help you guys defensively to hear those roars under the lights in the valley?
O’Daniel: “Absolutely, these are games that a lot of people on offense and defense have been dreaming about since we were young kids. Playing at a high level. Top program. Prime time television, everyone is tuned in. I am really counting on Death Valley to be really loud.”
Question: I know y’all prepare for each opponent the same way but is there a little extra dues when you go against an SEC team like Auburn?
O’Daniel: “No. It’s a nameless and faceless opponent each and every week. Prepare just like we prepared last week and we should have solid results. You don’t play down to an opponent or up to an opponent. You invest the time and the hard work each and every week and you usually see the results.”
Question: Do you personally get more excited when playing against a bigger SEC team with the ACC-SEC rivalry?
O’Daniel: “For sure. Everyone is always killing the ACC. There are still some doubters that think that we got off easy last year playing at Auburn and coming away with a win from that game. So hopefully this year we can go out there and leave no doubt.”