Around this time two years ago, defensive end Logan Rudolph, a freshman on the team at the time, suffered a shoulder injury during a team practice, cutting his first season with Clemson short.
Not too long after, the Tigers were set to face Syracuse at the Dome in Upstate New York. The outcome of that game stunned everyone, as the Orange overtook the then second-ranked Tigers, 27-24, earning Clemson its last loss.
“I did not make the trip last time. I remember watching it and being really bummed out after that, I mean everybody was,” Rudolph said. “It was going into a bye week and that was not a fun week to be a part of, but we rebounded, got better, and learned from it.”
Coming into the 2019 season, the Tigers had a lot of questions surrounding how the d-line would look after the loss of veteran players like Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins to the NFL draft, who all became staples of Clemson’s defense the last three years. While this could be daunting for some, top-ranked Clemson has taken it as an opportunity for players like Rudolph to step up and rise to the occasion, putting their own mark on this year’s line.
“Kind of the motto we’ve had in the d-line room since spring to now, is no drop off. We are going to do everything we can to carry on the legacy that those guys left last year,” the sophomore said. “We don’t have to be a Clelin Ferrell or an Austin Bryant, but we just need to be ourselves and give great effort every day. If we do that, we will be successful.”
While there are growing pains with any new group, the dominance Clemson’s defense is known for has not changed. The Tigers d-line had a very convincing performance against Texas A&M, putting pressure against starting quarterback Kellan Mond and holding the Aggies to just 53 rushing yards.
“I think the defense, especially the d-line, did a great job being disruptive,” Rudolph. “I think that’s a testament to Coach (Brent) Venables, the great system he puts in every week, and the blitzes we dial up and I think we are only going to get better.”
Two years and another national championship later, Rudolph is healthy with two games this year under his belt. He says he is looking forward to his first road game of the season and playing in the infamous Dome come Saturday at Syracuse (7:30 p.m.).
“I obviously love home games and being in the valley, but it’s a great opportunity to go play in a new environment and see a new place. I’ve heard a lot about the Carrier Dome and how it’s loud. We are definitely looking forward to going back and just playing Clemson football.”
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