The Tigers left last season wondering what could have been following their 28-49 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. For linebacker James Skalski, who had his action on the field cut short due to a targeting call in their second quarter of play, the loss was hard to swallow, but he is ready to move on and look ahead to his sixth and final season at Clemson.
“I mean the play didn’t bother me,” Skalski said. “I think you can pick that play apart and you can argue both sides, but at the end of the day I was just trying to protect us both. As far as the whole game goes, I mean, of course I watched it, I learned from it, but once I got what I needed to get from it, I’ve moved on. We played like crap and I can’t go back, I mean, I don’t have a time machine, so all I can do is look ahead and continue to prepare.”
Reflecting on the last time his team took the field, Skalski knows his team didn’t play up to their full potential, but the sixth year is ready to take what could have been against the Buckeyes and show up in a big way when they face the highly touted Georgia Bulldogs in week one.
“The last game we played, we got our ass kicked and they outphysicaled us,” the linebacker said. “I think Georgia’s reputation with Kirby Smart and Georgia, you know, their team’s gonna punch you in the mouth and that’s how football should be played. Thank god we’re playing a team like that because I love that.”
With doubts circulating that Clemson’s defense is soft, not physical enough, and not experienced enough, Skalski is ready to prove their critics wrong in what is shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated matchups this season between the Tigers and the Bulldogs at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on September 4th.
“I think we gotta prove that we can throw punches ourselves, we can take some and throw some,” Skalski said. “Last year when we got beat, that was the first time that I think those guys got hit in the mouth that hard at this level, so I just can’t wait to see how they respond.”