When Clemson enters the fourth quarter of a home game at Death Valley, the marketing and athletic communications staffs flash a video on the video board of what the fourth quarter means to the Tigers. It is a reminder of all the hard work, sweat and emotions they put in during the summer to get themselves prepared for what it takes to win four-quarter football games.
It reminds them what it is going to take for them to be another championship team. Of course, it also helps that it gets the 81,500 rabid Clemson fans fired up as well.
“It is a good reminder about all of the work that has to be put in,” linebacker J.D. Davis said.
Davis admits he is not watching it as much as he is listening to it. Why?
“It is kind of hard not to hone in and listen to Coach Batson,” he said.
Batson of course is Clemson’s strength and conditioning coach Joey Batson, who has been charged with getting the Tigers in shape—physically and mentally—for the regular season, in particular the fourth quarter, the last 22 years.
As scary as Batson may come across in the fourth-quarter video, Davis joked that is actually the softer side of Batson, when it comes to making sure the players are ready for what they are going to see during the course of the season.
“That was Coach Batson’s motivational side, but I definitely have had times in workouts where I have been terrified. So, definitely in person is scarier,” Davis said while laughing.
But Batson’s motivational tactics and his ability to demand and get the best out of the players pays off in games such as Saturday’s trip to Boston College (8 p.m., ABC). The Eagles are known to be one of the more physical squads in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the majority of their games are four-quarter games, where the opposing team is going to have to suck it up and try to out-work them.
Clemson prepares the same way. It’s one of the reasons the Tigers were able to dig deep and find a way to pull out win when it looked like they were going to lose earlier this year to Syracuse. Running back Travis Etienne scored the winning touchdown with 41 seconds to play as Clemson rallied for a 27-23 victory.
The Tigers (9-0, 6-0 ACC) trailed 23-13 with 12:58 to play in the game following an Orange touchdown.
“We work so hard from January, all the way to this point,” Davis said. “I think we were down ten going into the fourth quarter. We have had a great streak of when we are up in the fourth quarter of finishing people off. To be in a different situation, where we are down two scores, it really helped people focus in and get excited about the opportunity we had to do something a little different.
“It showed the strength and the fight of our team, especially with the quarterback (Trevor Lawrence) going down for a second year in a row. You can’t make stuff up like that. It definitely had a lot to do with how we played.”
It’s why Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he isn’t too worried about how his team will respond if it happens to be in a four-quarter game with Boston College this Saturday, despite playing four straight games in which the Tigers have won by an average margin of 51 points.
“On Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s with pads on, we keep a pretty sharp edge because the competition on our practice field is pretty tough,” Swinney said. “But we go into every game expecting a four-quarter battle. We don’t go into any game thinking anything different. We respect every opponent and prepare the same every week, and I think that is the biggest thing.
“We try to prepare the same every week and prepare our team for a four-quarter battle. If the game goes different, then you respond during the course of the game, but I think every week, our guys have that mindset.”
The Tigers especially have that mindset when they play Boston College.