Though a Virginia Tech reporter was hoping to get Dave Clawson to talk up the mystique of playing Notre Dame on the ACC Coaches Teleconference earlier this week, all the Wake Forest head coach could do was gush about fourth-ranked Clemson, who they host Saturday (3:30 p.m.) at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest was beat up by No. 6 Notre Dame, 56-27, on Sept. 22 at home. The 24th-ranked Hokies host the Irish on Saturday, so the reporter was hoping to get some perspective on what it’s like playing the Irish.
However, Clawson talked about Clemson more than he did Notre Dame.
“When you play a team like Notre Dame with their tradition and their history or a team with Clemson, like Clemson, I mean, this is a week that you know the players are excited,” he said. “There’s a little bit more hop in their step. And if they’re competitors, they love these games.”
As a coach Clawson does not want to downplay how good Clemson is because he says the players know. They understand what they are seeing on film.
“And they know what the opportunity is, and they also know what the challenges are,” he said.
The Virginia Tech reporter tried to follow up and keep Clawson on subject and answer the question from a Notre Dame point of view, but the Wake Forest coach again continued to gush about the Tigers and players such as Hunter Renfrow, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence.
Clemson of course has been one of the two best programs in the country the last seven-plus seasons. The Tigers (5-0, 2-0 ACC) have won 87 games since 2011, second only to Alabama. Clemson also won the national championship two years ago, played for it the year before that and has made the College Football Playoff in each of the previous three seasons.
They also have won four ACC Championships in that same period, including the last three.
“Yeah, at the end of the day those programs are what they are, and their records are their records because they’ve got really, really good players. And our players are smart,” Clawson said. “They watch the film. I mean we can tell them to ignore the color of the uniforms and the emblem on the helmet, but when you’re watching Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence and you’re watching Renfrow and their backs and all their receivers, and Mitch Hyatt, I mean our kids know when they’re playing good players. And I would say the same for Notre Dame.
“Notre Dame is a very talented football team. And I think we’re playing two of the most talented teams in the country within three weeks here. So, we had a huge challenge vs. Notre Dame that we didn’t handle well. And we’re hoping the challenge against Clemson this week we handle better than we did Notre Dame.”