Skalski, Tigers determined not to lose focus in second trip to New Orleans in three years
Clemson traveled to New Orleans at the conclusion of the 2017 season for the Sugar Bowl and got smacked by eventual national champion Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal.
Following that game many Tigers felt they ceded to a plethora of distractions in New Orleans, from Bourbon Street to Beignets, rather than zoning into a game plan to knock off the Crimson Tide.
Now third-ranked Clemson has the opportunity to redeem itself against an SEC foe in the Superdome for the CFP National Championship Game against No. 1 LSU. And they are determined not to lose focus on the task at hand.
It is the last time Clemson lost a game. The Tigers from the ACC have won 29 straight games since.
Linebacker James Skalski admitted the team enjoyed the ‘Big Easy’ a little too much in 2017 and that it affected the product on the field.
“I agree that we weren’t as focused as we needed to be,” Skalski told reporters during Clemson’s national championship media day on Monday. “We are very well aware of that and I think that’s part of why we lost (the Sugar Bowl) because we weren’t as focused, and Alabama was the better team that day.”
One difference between 2017 and this trip to New Orleans is the time Clemson will spend in the city. For a CFP National Championship Game, the teams arrive on Friday, just three days before the game, whereas a bowl game is a week-long trip with more sightseeing and activities for the players.
The redshirt-junior linebacker could care less about what New Orleans has to offer other than the chance to win a second straight national championship and back-to-back seasons as the nations’ only 15-0 team.
“We go down on Friday now for just a couple of days and who really gives a hoot about Bourbon Street, right now we are trying to make history,” Skalski said. “I just want to help people understand what is really sitting right in front of us. This opportunity rarely ever comes around, the chance to go 30-0 and win back to back national championships in this era and that is so special. We are going to look back 20 years from now and realize that.”
Clemson returns to the Superdome next Monday for its fourth CFP National Championship Game in five seasons.
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