Q&A with ESPN analyst David Pollack


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Former NFL player and University of Georgia standout David Pollack joined ESPN in June 2009 as a college football analyst

ESPN college football analyst David Pollack attended one of Clemson’s final spring football practices, and he came away impressed with the talent that the Tigers possess, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Pollack is from this part of the country, playing at the University of Georgia from 2001-04, where he was a three-time All-American, and then with the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL.

Pollack tweeted after his visit that the Tigers were more than capable of winning another ACC title either this year or next, so I decided to give him a call and get a feel for how someone outside of the program and the local media perceives not only the state of the program, but the recent hires of offensive coordinator Chad Morris and defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Pollack was extremely open and candid, and the following is a transcript of our conversation.

TigerNet: What are your thoughts on the Clemson program as it stands right now?

David Pollack: “They are just so talented. They have so many good looking athletes that can play at any school in the country. I think it starts with offense, obviously. That’s what you see and what jumps out at you. Once Chad Morris came in and Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
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committed himself as the starter, things really took off. Early in the season, after the Troy game, I was sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t know if he [Boyd] has it. I am not sure if he could be the guy that people anticipated he could be.’ Then he started seeing the progressions, and then you could put his name in the Heisman mix. There is so much talent at the running back spot. You talk about [Andre] Ellington and [Mike]Bellamy, two guys that can scoot and can fly. You can go out to receiver with Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
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and DeAndre HopkinsDeAndre Hopkins
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. With those two guys, they might be the second or third best 1-2 punch at receiver in the country.”

TN: What do you see as the weaknesses?

DP: Obviously the question is with the offensive line, where they lose three starters up front. Talking to Dabo the other day, he was impressed with the improvement of the offensive line. If this line comes together, this will be a top five offense in the country. I have no doubt about that. With the people they have and the system it could be absolutely magical. I think on defense, you look at a young group that was awful a year ago. Now they have a different philosophy and a change of approach that is going to be fun and interesting and fun to watch. Two years ago, you had Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
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and his defense that was one of the top groups in the country and were the only reason they were 6-7. Last year, you win the ACC and they get rid of guy because the defense was so bad, so now it will be interesting to see how the defensive philosophy changes and how they hold up because it will be all about the defense in how far they go.

TN: What are your thoughts on Brent Venables?

DP: When I watch Oklahoma, it frustrates me because they have a lot of talent. They have a lot of talent all over the place. But a lot of missed assignments, not a lot of physical toughness or guys that will come downhill and strike you. I was disappointed with what I saw at Oklahoma. But where this change helps Clemson is that you are starting to see the spread offense more in the ACC and Venables has had that in his backyard for years. Venables has seen all of this stuff at Oklahoma when he played against all of those teams in the Big 12. He will be a good fit in that regard because he has seen it all. There wasn’t a lot of mystery to what Kevin Steele was doing. He was a blitz happy guy that played a lot of man to man coverage and you saw a lot of big plays given up. Clemson gave up a lot of chunk plays over the last two years. I think with Venables coming in, the mission should be to stop the damage done by running quarterbacks. We saw the damage those guys have done. And teams will have to earn it more against that defense now. Any defensive coordinator in the country will tell you if you make a team go 17 plays and 80 yards to get a score, you’re not so disappointed because you made them earn it. You are going to see a lot more zone from Venables. You will be see them giving up more little plays and the opponent sustain drives a little bit more, but that is ok because they won't be giving up those home run balls down the field, and that’s okay. When you come in and you have an offense that is as great as Clemson has, try and make the other offenses earn it, where they have to make mistakes and turn the football over. When you make them run more plays, you have a greater chance of getting a fumble, the better the chance for a tipped pass or a penalty. Make them earn it as much as possible and I think that will be the mission for Venables.

TN: Is Clemson to the point they can compete with the elite teams in the country, and by elite I mean the teams that are consistently in the top five or top ten?

DP: I think it’s getting there. I wouldn’t say it is there yet. You have to tell me what I am getting now with the young guys in the trenches. That is where the difference is. The offense can play with anybody in the country. The offense is fast enough and diverse enough. The two guys on the outside [Watkins and Hopkins] are good enough to play anywhere in the country. It makes opposing defensive coordinators say, ‘What do I need to do? Do I double Sammy Watkins? If I do, that leaves me DeAndre Hopkins one-on-one.’ If you cover those two guys, it opens up things for Ellington and Bellamy. And with the tempo of that offense, it’s hard to get a read and stop everything. Offensively, the answer is yes. Defensively, I don’t think so. Last year you saw it, you flirted with [losing to] Maryland, you flirted with North Carolina and gave up a lot of points and it was a slugfest. It was, ‘How many points can I pull off in order to win?’ You are not going to win against the elite teams in the country – like the teams that played for the National Championship last year in Alabama and LSU – playing that way. They are going to get stops, so you have to have a defense that can come out there when your offense does have a bad day and turns the football over a few times, your defense has to come up big. That is why Oklahoma isn’t winning National Championships. They come out against Texas Tech and their defense doesn’t show up and their offense comes out a little bit sluggish and it was Game Over. Bama comes out against Vanderbilt a little bit sluggish and it doesn’t matter because they count on their defense every week and they aren’t down 21-0. It just doesn’t happen. I think keeping the game close is something that Clemson needs to get better at so their offense can finish games. Once they do that, they are right there with those elite teams.

ABOUT POLLACK:

Former NFL player and University of Georgia standout David Pollack joined ESPN in June 2009 as a college football analyst.

As a defensive end at the University of Georgia, he was just the second Bulldog to be named a three-time All-American. Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker was the first.


In the 2005 NFL Draft, he was taken 17th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. His NFL career was cut short, however, after he broke a cervical vertebra in a game versus the Cleveland Browns in 2006. The Bengals announced Pollack’s retirement before the 2008 season.

At Georgia, Pollack’s accolades included 2002 SEC Player of the Year honors, the 2003 and 2004 Ted Hendricks Award, and, all in 2004, the Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. His 36 sacks for the Bulldogs remain a school record.

Pollack started his broadcast career in 2008, doing studio work for CBS and hosting a sports radio talk show in Atlanta for 790 The Zone.

Pollack, who was born in New Brunswick, N.J., and raised in Snellville, Ga., now resides in Atlanta.


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Subject (Replies: 47) Author
Front Page Story: Q&A with ESPN analyst David Pollack
B-Meist®
DP has me worried about BV now
BentZero
OU has to play some of the top 5 offenses every year
Drobins
Comparison
owensdj
^That sums it up nicely for me.***
francismariontiger®
exactly, and FSU played us with out EJ***
Shevlin77
Re: OU has to play some of the top 5 offenses every year
wrench®
Re: OU has to play some of the top 5 offenses every year
facman
So if your offense turns it over or puts the D in bad
CM Shack
Re: So if your offense turns it over or puts the D in bad
wrench®
Re: OU has to play some of the top 5 offenses every year
jvtiger77
Re: DP has me worried about BV now
allorangeallthetime52®
In no way am I the least bit worried
jvtiger77
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
jvtiger77
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
wrench®
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
jvtiger77
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
wrench®
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
jvtiger77
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
wrench®
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
facman
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
tmac9wr
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
jvtiger77
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
facman
Re: In no way am I the least bit worried
facman
Ditto
facman
Discouraging comments regarding Venables. Oh well.
Ridge Creek
We were in a slugfest with UNC?
Drobins
Clearly he only saw the score, not the game film.***
Tigers2007®
Re: We were in a slugfest with UNC?
Melclem
Re: We were in a slugfest with UNC?
jvtiger77
I know several UGa grads, all of whom love DP...***
CM Shack
Re: We were in a slugfest with UNC?
raginranger®
Perhaps he simply misspoke and meant
TIGERMEAT®
Re: Perhaps he simply misspoke and meant
martelapts
It was in the first half and we weren't able to run it on
josephg®
UNC was a much closer game than the scored indicated
deleted
Flirted with UNC? It was 59-24 at the end of the 3rd***
CU_Kobe_24®
but it was 0-0 at the beginning of the 1st***
tigeringvegas
Re: but it was 0-0 at the beginning of the 1st***
tmac9wr
A fair and honest assessment, IMO
RogerS®
I think that is a very fair assessment
Tiger Rag Fishing Team
Wow, missed assignments and a lack of toughness...where have
CM Shack
He also said that we were in a slugfest with UNC
Drobins
Whatever helps you sleep...***
CM Shack
Re: He also said that we were in a slugfest with UNC
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: He also said that we were in a slugfest with UNC
martelapts
Love that video- I remember that play but forgot it was USuC
Ucel74

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