Junior offensive guard Walker Parks spoke to the media Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s game against Notre Dame. If there’s something he knows, it’s that you should never underestimate any team going into a highly anticipated matchup, especially not a team that’s 5-3 and gaining confidence as the season progresses.
“You can’t count anyone out based on previous performances,” Parks said. “I definitely think they are coming off a good road win and I think they’ll be ready, but so will we.”
Much of that preparation the Kentucky native referenced started long before the season began. Earlier on Tuesday, Clemson running back Will Shipley also spoke to the media and discussed how important the cohesion of the offensive line has been for his success moving the ball downfield. The lead running back noted that the development comes from a camaraderie that has been nurtured on and off the field.
Both Parks and Shipley expressed the key change from last season is the much-improved communication across the entire offensive unit on the field. Shipley was quick to say that he didn’t always feel comfortable asking for the call while in the backfield last season, but now the communication on the field has completely shifted.
“It’s crazy the development we have gone through since last year,” he said. “I would say last year, I would sit in the backfield and I would be afraid to ask who the point is because I didn’t really have much of a voice on the field, but this year, I’ll pause D.J.’s cadence to step up and communicate with them. Who do you all got? What protection do we got here? Are you all changing it? Just the communication on the field, but when we’re talking off the field, the guys I hang around with and spend a lot of my time with, just creating that camaraderie, it definitely travels over to the field.”
Parks reaffirmed Shipley’s assertion that the communication across the offensive unit has shifted. Parks believes despite some miscues that you can expect in any season, the free-flowing communication has been critical to ensure the cadence on offense is not disturbed despite the loud and sometimes raucous environments the Tigers play in.
Parks noted the loudest and most comparable environment to Notre Dame that Clemson has faced this season would be the road game against Florida State in Tallahassee. The guard believes that each week the line just falls more into place and is able to maintain the tempo necessary to facilitate those big plays on offense.
“Our communication was definitely good,” he said. “We’ve had issues all season. I mean there’s always going to one or two plays where there’s an issue there. We’re getting better though. I think as we gel more together, me moving into guard, Putnam taking over the center role. I mean that’s not as easy thing to do. You go from playing guard for two or three years, however long he was here before that, and jumping into center, now you’re directing traffic and everything like that. You have to talk to your left side and your right side. We’re getting better at lane calls, making sure they are on-time, making sure in the cadence so it doesn’t mess up the quarterback and the running back.”
As some may say, communication is key. The free-flowing communication and ability to play cohesively on the road will be a key factor in Clemson’s performance against Notre Dame this Saturday.
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