As Clemson gets set to head out to Arizona to play No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, as part of the College Football Playoff, its defense is not happy.
They are still steamed about their performance in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 7. Though the third-ranked Tigers easily dismantled No. 24 Virginia, 62-17, the Cavaliers became the first team this season to total 300 yards on the Tigers.
To be exact, it was 387 total yards, and they scored 17 points.
“We played a good game in our eyes against Virginia, but we were pissed,” linebacker James Skalski said. “We won 62-17 and we were pissed. We did not play, in our eyes, to the standard you are talking about. They got 300 yards on us. They got 17 points on us. That’s too much. We are not happy.
“Yes, it is a great win, but we have a standard we have set for ourselves and if we don’t get to that standard, it is not okay.”
Skalski says Clemson (13-0) is looking forward to a bounce back game against the Buckeyes. After the ACC Championship Game, defensive coordinator Brent Venables was okay with the way his defense played, especially considering Virginia had versatile quarterback Bryce Perkins.
“We are just trying to bounce back from a disappointing game for us,” Skalski said. “I know Coach V was like, ‘You are not going to walk through my mind with your dirty feet.’ But I will tell you straight up, we were not happy about it.”
Even though the Tigers were up 45-14 at the end of three quarters, Skalski said the defense was mad.
“We were pissed on the sideline. They were throwing the ball to whoever they wanted to, and it is just frustrating when you know how well you prepared, and you are not executing that well,” he said. “I think we did not execute throughout the whole game as consistently as we wanted, and that was frustrating for us.”
Skalski knows they will have to play and execute better on Dec. 28 against an Ohio State offense that leads the nation in scoring and has a Heisman Trophy Finalist at quarterback and a Doak Walker Award Finalist at running back.
“They are a great team. That is why they are here,” he said. “It is going to be a great challenge and it is going to be fun.”
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