LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Featured on yet another ESPN College GameDay show, No. 2 Clemson entered enemies’ territory on the hunt to prove the analysts, the fans, and the media wrong.
Facing off in an ACC clash with No. 14 Louisville, the second-ranked Tigers dominated the Cardinals, 47-21, with clean execution of their game plan in Papa John’s Stadium on Saturday.
Following Clemson’s 11th straight road win, the media spoke to head coach Dabo Swinney, co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, quarterback Kelly Bryant, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.
Here is what we heard:
As always, Clemson’s one goal was to take the game one play at a time and execute on all cylinders. The Tigers exceeded their goal, tallying 613 total yards while limiting reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s big plays.
As Louisville fell 0-4 all-time against Clemson on Saturday, Swinney left Louisville happy.
“First of all it’s a great start for us in ACC play,” Swinney said. “Any time you go on the road and win it’s a big boost for you. We still have a lot of work to do and a tough division game, but it takes a lot of mental toughness to go on the road and win. … We felt like we’ve left a little doubt in the past couple of years. Just wanted to go out and play a good, sound, complimentary football game tonight in all three phases, and we did that.”
Up until last night, the Tigers offense had been doubted. It was Bryant’s first road game in a prime-time slot under a hostile environment of a Louisville blackout.
“Of course it was a challenge coming into the game,” Bryant said. “Everybody was hyping the game up about the hostile environment, the blackout but we blocked all of that out. We just kept the main thing, the main thing and made plays and played our game.”
Bryant truly settled into the game in the second quarter when he launched a beautiful 79-yd touchdown throw to Ray Ray McCloud. When it was all said and done, the quarterback threw for 316 yards on 22-of-32 passing and totaled three touchdowns.
“First three starts, he looks like a second or third year starter out there,” Scott said. “He took some hits early, took him a while to get going, but man, he let us make some big plays with his feet and also with his arms. He threw some great balls.
“This was a big step playing a great conference team in our division, on the road, at night, all those type of things. This group on offense keeps on answering every new question they have, they answer it the right way.”
And defensively, the Tigers held the Cardinals down in their 26-point victory. Clemson’s defense attacked the pocket, sacked Jackson four times, and Dorian O’Daniel even snagged an interception from a rattled Lamar Jackson.
“It just kind of happened, to be honest,” O’Daniel said. “Once I caught it, I knew I had to do something with it. I was too close to the end zone for me not to score. Luckily, my teammates were there to pick up blocks, crack backs and anything they needed to do to get me in the end zone.”
Venables said he was impressed and overall happy for his senior linebacker.
“That was a great play. What a good play,” Venables said. “But he was probably happier. We were due.”
And in total, Venables was pleased with his defense’s response in an intense atmosphere.
“I thought we had control of the game,” Venables said. “I thought our pressure up front was really good, our positioning was pretty good in the back end. I thought our guys executed our plan cleanly and rose to the challenge.”
—Photo Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports