|by Nikki Steele|
Boyd looked at the countdown clock in the Tigers’ weight room every day, and with each passing day the time went by faster.
Boyd said that he couldn’t ask for a better game to kickoff the 2013 football season and his senior year.
“I’m very excited. It has moved so fast,” Boyd said during player interviews Tuesday. “I remember counting down the days that are listed in the weight room- 200 days, 100 days, 80 days. And, now we are four days away from it. What an awesome way to start off a senior season.”
For Boyd, the upcoming game against Georgia ranks as high as any game in his career.
“From the outside looking in, it’s definitely one of the top three games that I’ve played in, but playing at home makes it that much better,” Boyd said. “I walked into the building yesterday and you could just feel the excitement from the crowds downtown, to the jerseys being sold to the line for student tickets, I haven’t seen it look like this. I can only imagine what Death Valley will look like Saturday.”
*Sammy Watkins didn’t’ have the season he wanted in 2012, but the coaches have challenged him in every facet of the game during the off-season.
“I don’t think I have to prove anything,” Watkins said Tuesday. “I have to play the way I’ve been playing and do the things I did as a freshman and everything will work out. The coaches really worked me hard on the field, off the field and in the film room. Now, I just have to go out there and have fun.”
With a renewed sense of confidence and a extra push from former wide receiver DeAndre “DeAndre Hopkins” Hopkins, Watkins is ready to break all of Hopkins’ 2012 records.
“Those are all my same goals. I just have to go out there and have fun,” Watkins said. “That’s what DeAndre texted me the other night, ‘Man, you have to go out there and have a better season than I did last year.’ Those are my goals that I have to work towards to become a dominant receiver. He had a great season last year and I want to capture all of those goals this year.”
*Citizens, students, and faculty in Tiger Town have already bought into the hype surround the Georgia game; however, the Clemson football team is trying to avoid it.
“There probably is more adrenaline,” Tyler Shatley said. “You try to say that each week we come out with the same mentality but there is a little bit more of a buzz. All of the kids are excited. Even the faculty is excited. You walk out of class and they are like, ‘Go get ‘em, Saturday.’ At the same time, we are trying to play our best in every game and it will all work out.”
As a senior, it is Shatley’s job to steer the younger players away from social media, newspapers, and internet media.
“We try to stay away from all of that,” Shatley said. “The seniors and Coach Swinney talked to the other players about not reading our press clippings and not reading what people are saying on the internet, because you get caught up in that and you start thinking things that aren’t true and then you aren’t focused on playing your best game.”
*Robert Smith and the defensive backs are ready to move on from a less than stellar 2012 campaign, and silence all of their critics.
“I feel like it’s up to us to make that change,” Smith said. “It’s up to us to go out there and show the nation what we really are. We can’t really say anything about it because it is what it is. We have to go out there and show the improvements that we made as a defense and as a team. This is not last year’s team or the team from five or eight years ago. This is this year’s team. We are a whole new team. We have to show the nation what we are this year.”
A national television audience and a game against the high-powered Georgia offense is the perfect platform to make a good first impression.
“This is your first game, your first appearance, your first impression,” Smith said. “This game means a lot to us.”
*Georgia employs the play-action pass quite often, and for linebacker Spencer Shuey, it will take until game time to figure out the Bulldogs formations and tendencies.
“You definitely have to pay a lot of attention,” Shuey said. “Their formations will give away a couple of tendencies and some of it, but as a linebacker you always have to be thinking run first with the weapons that they have. It’s definitely going to be hard to defend run up the field versus getting that read and then have to get back in coverage. It’s hard to get that exact look from the scouts so it’s going to take until game time and hopefully we can get it figured out.”
However, it will take Shuey trusting the other 10 men on the field and vice versa for the Tigers to be successful Saturday night.
“It’s definitely going to take all 11 of us on defense,” Shuey said. “I think we’ve got a good scheme going into it. As long as we have good gap control, does their job and doesn’t try to do someone else’s job, I think that as a defensive unit we should be able to contain them.”
Nikki Steele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org