It has been a strong first half of the season for the No. 2 Clemson, especially on defense where they have not missed a step after losing multiple key pieces from last season.
Ranked third in the nation in total defense (254.8 yds/game), the Tigers are right where they are accustomed to being.
At linebacker, James Skalski has stepped in well for Kendall Joseph who graduated last season. While continuing to perform his duties on special teams. Skalski currently ranks second on the team in tackles with 39, including 3 tackles for loss.
While the defense has looked great, it has only improved throughout the season. Being such a young defense, the more experience they get can go a long way with the development of the team.
“I think our greatest improvement is gaining knowledge,” Skalski said. “Guys are buying in and knowing their job. That’s really what the game is. You don’t have to be superman and you don’t have to be make crazy plays. You just have to do your job. The more guys we can get into buying into and doing their job, the better we will be and I believe I’ve seen that over the past couple of games.”
Coming into the season there were definitely a lot of questions surrounding the Tigers’ defense. Who would fill into those spots? Now having proven their value, Skalski doesn’t want the media to give the group too much credit as they continue their season.
“We don’t need the credit,” he said. “Whatever y’all are doing keep doing it, don’t give us the credit. We want to walk into every week with something to prove. We just have to keep buying into the game plan Coach (Brent Venables) is putting together and, like I said, do our job and things will play out like they should.”
After a dominant win against Florida State last week, the Tigers travel to Louisville to face a high scoring Cardinals’ offense on Saturday. Louisville is coming off of a shootout win against then No. 19 Wake Forest. Playing three different quarterbacks, Louisville is surrounded with offensive talent at both receiver and running back as well.
“Oh they’re a good offense,” Skalski said. “They have a new coaching staff and a great scheme. I think they’ve got about four or five NFL caliber players on their roster. They’ve got good receivers and a talented back to go along with three different quarterbacks that can all play. Then you see they also have a good offensive line that executes, so it’ll be a challenge.”
Clemson and Louisville kick off at noon on Saturday. The game will be televise on ABC.
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