Following the bye-week, Clemson kicks back into gear as it focuses on Saturday’s prime-time matchup against Georgia Tech in Death Valley. A week to reset following the Tigers loss at Syracuse and the health of Kelly Bryant made for a very eager team during Tuesday’s press conference.
The media spoke to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins about the bye-week and the upcoming challenge in facing the Yellow Jackets.
Here is what we heard:
Following a tough loss at Syracuse, Swinney and the team used the bye-week to reset for the rest of the season. The week came at a perfect time.
“We’re coming off a good break. We’re ready to get back going,” Swinney said. “I’m proud of our team in how they responded and how they got back to work in the last week and a half or so. It was a good time for us as a staff to position ourselves to finish in the best position possible.”
For anyone, facing adversity is never easy. But looking on the bright side of things, O’Daniel reflects on the Tigers’ national championship rebound following last year’s loss against Pittsburgh.
“That wasn’t the first time has faced adversity,” O’Daniel said. “But, I think for the young guys it was beneficial to understand that we can lose. It’s all about how we respond to those loses and what we learn from them. It is going to be how we respond this weekend and I think those guys are going to take into account how they play and prepare.”
Heading into this Saturday’s matchup, Georgia Tech presents a different challenge in its triple-option offense. This is where O’Daniel believes he can shine.
“I think that if everyone does their job, you really have the chance to be successful,” O’Daniel said. “For me personally, I just feel like I am at an advantage because I can really showcase my sideline movement and defending the run.”
Luckily, Venables seems to have a trick up his sleeve to keep Georgia Tech’s offense at a minimum. In the Tigers and Yellow Jackets last two meetings, Georgia Tech has managed just 166 rushing yards combined for a per carry average of 2.1 yards.
The last time Georgia Tech came to Death Valley in 2015, the Tigers held the Yellow Jackets to 71 rushing yards on 42 carries, which was Paul Johnson’s single lowest rushing total in his coaching career.
“Some years we have had the advantage at certain positions from a matchup standpoint and that always makes a big difference, too,” Venables said. “It is not always your schemes. The scheme is a starting point, but ultimately the players have to go out and execute, play with leverage and stay on their feet, while playing physically tough and finish for 60 minutes.”
But, as a general rule, Venables has been known to consistently and intensely prepare despite the team or scheme.
“Coach V is always on edge,” Wilkins said. “He’s always intense, crazy, you can’t tell the difference whether we’re playing the triple option or something like we see every day in practice. He’s always on edge, always getting after us, always passionate about his job and putting us in the best position possible.”