We’re coming off a good break. We’re just ready to get back going. I’m proud of our
team and how they’ve responded and gone back to work this last week and a half. It’s been
a good time for us as a staff to try to position ourselves for the best finish possible.
The one thing I will say as we get back going is that eight weeks has flown by. It has
been an absolute blur from when we first started on Aug. 1. It goes fast, man…it goes fast. I
don’t have any doubt that these next five weeks are going to go by just as fast. I’m just
trying to enjoy all of it.
I love this time of year. This is my favorite time of the year. I love the season and
the challenges that come each and every week. I’m just excited to get back at it, especially
here at home.
We’ve got another big challenge this week with Georgia Tech. This is a really good
football team, and they’re truly two plays away from being 6-0. Watching the Tennessee
tape, I have no idea how they lost that ballgame. Turnovers were the costly thing, and they
gave them short field, but they really dominated the game.
Then, the Miami game…what a ballgame. It comes down to a fourth-and-10, and
two defenders go up…how they don’t get the ball, I have no idea.
Paul [Johnson] has done an awesome job of getting these guys a great plan every
week and putting them in a position to win. We don’t have any doubt that we’re going to be
in for a big fight on Saturday night here in the Valley.
Offensively, obviously we play them every year, so we’re very familiar with who
they are, and they are who they are. This is year nine for me, and it never is easy to play
these guys (5-5 overall vs. Tech).
It is always an incredible undertaking. The amount of discipline that you have to
play with…you just can’t get bored doing your job over and over and over for 60 minutes.
Tackling is at a premium because of their style of play and the way they force you into oneon-one
coverage and open-field tackles, being able to play the cut box, having the
discipline…they throw the ball a lot, but right now, they’re averaging four completions a
game, but it’s almost 18 yards per catch.
So whenever they do throw it, it’s a big play, and that’s typically because someone
has their eyes on the wrong thing, they try to do someone else’s job and here goes a guy
wide open. It’s just a real challenge from a discipline standpoint, but we’re looking forward
to the matchup.
Their quarterback has been very impressive. He’s a guy who knows their system,
and Paul wants a guy that can go out there and can make the decisions that need to be
made…it’s an ‘if this, then that’ type of offense.
It’s the old-school RPOs, I guess. Now, it’s modern-day option football, and the
quarterback has the power to make a lot of decisions. Paul does a great job of teaching their
system and equipping the quarterback with answers.
Defensively, it’s a veteran group. They’ve shown a lot of different things this year
based on who they’ve played…they played Wake Forest completely different than they
played a couple of other teams, so every week, they’ve had a few game plan wrinkles mixed
in for that opponent. But it’s a veteran group, especially in the secondary. They’ve got a ton
of guys back who have started a bunch of games and are active up front. Ted [Roof] does as
good of a job as anybody out there schematically. We’ve got to play well.
It’s been a good break, but it’s been a tough break for our team and our staff. I’m
proud of how these guys have responded. We’re where we hoped to be at this point, and
what I mean by that is that obviously, we want to win them all, but at the last game of
October heading into November, we’re in a position where we’re one of those teams that’s
got a shot…for this division, for this conference.
That’s really what our goal has always been, and after seven games, nothing has
changed. It’s all about how we finish. Our focus this week is getting back out there and
playing the best four quarters that we’ve played this season. That’s really the only agenda
we have, and we’ll see if we can build some momentum down the stretch here.
Also, I’ve got the pink on. This is our breast cancer awareness game. It’s something
that we’re passionate about and always excited to participate in around here. I appreciate
Clemson Athletics and everyone around here partnering with the All In Foundation in
helping us make a difference in this community.
Just a few things to remind people about breast cancer: it is the most commonly
diagnosed cancer in the state of South Carolina, and it’s the second highest cause of cancerrelated
deaths among women in South Carolina. It is a very deadly disease, but also,
through research, we know that if it’s caught early enough, there is a good survival rate. But
one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and roughly 85
percent of breast cancer cases occur in women who have no family history of the disease.
It’s something that we are very passionate about, especially [my wife] Kathleen, and it’s
something that we take a lot of pride in, in trying to make a difference in the community.
I know that we’ve been able to do that through the mobile mammography bus, and
the foundation is purchasing another bus for St. Francis. These buses go into underserved
communities and provide free mammograms for women who wouldn’t go and get one
otherwise. I’m just really appreciative of the community and all the people who help raise
funds. One of the things that we’re doing is selling the pins, and those can be purchased
online at ClemsonTigers.com, and you can also go to the Tiger Sports Shop, TigerTown
Graphics, Palmetto Moon, Razzberry Fizz, Judge Keller’s…and they will also be sold in the
stadium stores. They’re the National Championship breast cancer pins, so they’re really
Q. In your time here, why doesn’t it get any easier to play Georgia Tech? Are they a little
bit different every year, and do you work the triple option in the offseason to make
sure you’re ready? Why doesn’t it get any easier?
Paul Johnson is a great football coach. He’s been doing this for 21 years. Georgia
Southern, Navy, Georgia Tech…he’s a winner. He’s been successful because you don’t every
have to worry about who they are. They have an identity, and they believe in their identity,
and they know what they’re doing.
They know how to recruit to it, and they know how to execute it. Everything comes
down to execution. They’ve been able to execute this triple option offense to
perfection…and you don’t see it a whole lot. Obviously, we play them every year, but some
teams, I feel sorry for them when they look at their schedule and go ‘hmm, how did we
schedule them?’ or ‘oh my god, it’s our turn to play Georgia Tech.
It’s a challenge. It is assignment football at its finest. You have to play with such
discipline and such great technique. They stress you from all angles, so it never gets easy.
He’s been doing this for so long that he’s got answers. I don’t care how good your
fastball is, but if you keep throwing fastballs, you’re going to hit it, and a long way. I’ve got a
great respect for Paul and what they do.
Defensively, they’ve been really good. Ted is outstanding and really understands
how to get those guys in position to have a chance to be successful.