COLUMBUS – Tuesday was day two of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s media day. Clemson’s offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and a handful of Tiger offensive players spoke with the media.
Here are the highlights.
OC Tony Elliott
+ Going into the game last year they didn’t realize how good Pete Werner was. With how he is playing now, he makes an impact. He’s a guy from last year that they have a lot of respect for.
+ Tuf Borland is a very smart linebacker and he does a good job of getting everyone lined up.
+ On Ohio State’s defense, Elliott said the coordinator is different but the product is very similar. The defense was very good last year and they look very similar, just the names and faces are different.
+ Coach Dabo Swinney believed his ranking was the right thing to do. They embrace the target, they didn’t want to be little old Clemson. They embrace the target, and stay true to their values on and off the field. With success comes scrutiny.
+ Ohio State is going to play to the strengths of their identity. This is the biggest stage, there will be a lot of emotion. “You have to do what you do and do what got you to this point.”
+ Trevor Lawrence’s legacy will be his record, the winningest quarterback in school history. He is humble and loves to win and compete and do it the right way and they are about service to their communities.
+ In this game, they have to set the tempo early and make competitive plays.
+ Football is always about angles and numbers and winning one-on-one matchups.
OG Matt Bockhorst
+ This game means a lot to him with being from Ohio, especially being a starter now and having a bigger role in this game. He will never take this for granted. To have this opportunity is special. He knows a lot of people on Ohio State’s team and some are even his former teammates.
+ Tommy Togiai is strong and explosive. The inside guys do a good job and they are well coached. Haskell Garrett is a great talent as well. It will be a big battle.
+ On being able to run the ball, Bockhorst said it’s something they take pride in. They focus on the details and basics and it has been paying off. But Ohio State’s run defense is very good, so it will be a challenge. They have to be on their A-game with the little things.
+ When he committed to Clemson, a lot of people were shocked, it was a little out of the box. The people closest to him supported him but a lot of his friends go to Ohio State. There are some bragging rights on the line but it’s a passionate rivalry. This matters to a lot of people.
+ On Justin Hilliard, they were teammates for two years and “what an incredible athlete.” It seems like he has taken one step forward and two back but now that he’s healthy, he’s a world class athlete. He looks up to Hilliard and respects him. The opportunity to play against one another is special. He is really proud of him for sticking it out and getting his opportunity and having everything pay off.
+ They have intrinsic motivation as a team.
+ The best is the standard.
TE Braden Galloway
+ They don’t focus on noise outside of the program, they focus on being the best they can be. They know who they are and “it’s Clemson family for a reason.”
+ He’s looking at this like it is any other game. They have a great plan, and he will do anything he can to help this team win.
+ Travis Etienne is very fast on the field. He brings a different type of speed.
+ This is a great opportunity for them as a team and it has that fairytale story headline because they are going back to the place they lost at last year, to get back to where they were last year.
+ They are confident in everything they put in and they trust they will be successful.
+ Ohio State’s linebackers are very athletic. They are good in space and coverage and stop the run. They have a lot of guys who will cover the tight ends. He has to study a lot and find their weaknesses and tendencies and attack it that way.
QB Trevor Lawrence
+ He hasn’t thought about his legacy but he wants people to speak to his character more than his play. His number one goal is to just be a good person and good teammate. The accolades and the play will speak for itself.
+ It was cool to be a part of something like the We Want to Play movement.
+ On having a loss, Lawrence said in some ways it was good for them to not win even though it was devastating in the moment. “Some things are necessary for you to grow.” They obviously don’t choose that, but sometimes it can be necessary and they can learn things from it.
+ Justin Fields is from right down the road from him and to be playing against him again is cool. They are friends and have a good relationship.
+ Ohio State is a great team year in and year out. They are playing the best of the best. Last year’s game was crazy.
+ Regardless of how well he plays there’s always something he can get better at. He expects a lot from himself and the coaches hold him accountable. “Nobody’s perfect.”
WR Amari Rodgers
+ They are just playing for each other and playing to their standard. The focus is on Clemson.
+ It doesn’t feel like a rivalry to him. “They have more beef with us than we do for them.” It’s just one of those teams we happen to play a lot and it’s a great game every time.
+ “Trevor [Lawrence] is low-key a dual threat quarterback. That’s something a lot of people have slept on throughout his career.” He’s been performing at a high level since he’s been at Clemson and people are used to it. In his opinion, Lawrence is the best player in the country.
+ He took his preparation to the next level this season.
+ The wideouts didn’t play to their standard last year against Ohio State. They didn’t make the plays needed to win the game the way they wanted to. They have been working on making competitive plays.
+ Shaun Wade’s length posed a challenge last year. He has to study his technique and find ways to attack him.
+ They haven’t had the best luck in New Orleans, but he likes the city. He hopes they can switch up the curse a little bit this year.
RB Travis Etienne
+ They have the heart of a champion and the “it” factor. Losing to Notre Dame was necessary because it taught them a lot and gave them the focus they needed to get back to who they are.
+ He is thankful for the opportunity to play in this game but they are 0-2 in New Orleans. He is ready for the game and is ready to make it right. He has close to 20 family members coming.
+ Ohio State is structured to stop the run. It’s a challenge. They know Ohio State isn’t going to give them any yards.
+ The bowl week has been weird but BINGO night was fun. He’s kind of mad he didn’t win and have a chance to call BINGO.
+ They are hitting their strides in the running game in the right time.
+ On playing his game against a good defense and versatile linebackers, Etienne said preparation and game planning will be key. Everybody is ready, this is the best of the best, but being confident in himself and in his coaches putting him in the right positions.
WR Cornell Powell
+ The wide receivers at Clemson have been challenged to go out there and make a statement. They have a ton of respect for Ohio State’s DB’s but they want to just go out there and do enough to win.
+ “That’s why you come to Clemson, to play in games like this.”
+ On Ohio State’s secondary, there is no drop off. “Those guys are great. They are D1, NFL-rated guys as well.”
+ This year has been crazy but amazing.
+ On the social justice movement over the summer and the criticism of Dabo Swinney, Powell said he felt like he learned that it’s better to listen and ensure that everyone is heard as opposed to reacting. They wanted to make sure they used their platform and Coach Swinney did a great job of listening to his players. He gained knowledge, they all did and that helped.