As expected No. 1 Clemson got off to a good start in the 2019 football season after a dominant, 52-14, win over Georgia Tech in the Tigers’ home opener Thursday night in Death Valley.
Although it was the offense that put up 52 points against the Yellow Jackets, the Tigers’ defense only allowed two touchdowns and made several critical stops.
Linebacker James Skalski was more than excited to be on the field Thursday after coming off of a redshirt season last year, in which he only played in four games.
On Thursday the redshirt junior had 8 tackles, 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for loss.
“Me personally, I definitely left some tackles out there,” Skalski said on Monday. “That’s something I can clean up but overall (the linebackers) graded well and I thought we played pretty good.”
The tests came early on for the Tigers’ defense. After Tre Swilling took a Trevor Lawrence interception to the Clemson 2-yard line, the defensive line stepped up and denied entry into the end zone four consecutive times.
Skalski said that was one of the most memorable moments of the night.
“I remember jogging onto the field after (Lawrence) made the tackle thinking to myself, ‘It’s going to be cool if we pull this one off.’ And what do you know…
“But as loud as the stadium gets in those moments it’s dead quiet when you’re out there. It was a really cool moment. I wish I could do it again honestly. It’s probably one of the best moments I’ve had in Death Valley.”
As the Tigers turn their focus toward a top-15 matchup with No. 12 Texas A&M, Skalski is so excited to take part in this year’s game against the Aggies. Last year, when Clemson traveled to College Station, Texas, Skalski was watching from the sidelines.
“It was really hard because that’s honestly one of the best stadiums I’ve played in. That place is awesome. But like I’ve said, I knew their plan for me and I trusted it. Now it’s all working out pretty well.”
This year things are a lot different and Skalski is ready to do whatever it takes to contain Texas A&M and their dual threat quarterback, Kellen Mond.
In the Aggies’ first game of the season against Texas State, Mond finished with 194 yards and three touchdowns.
“(Mond) is a dynamic guy and he can throw that football. Watching the tape, he was putting some on the money and I’m really excited for this challenge we have in front of us.”
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