Biscuits and Violins: The age of Wes Goodwin begins

by - Senior Writer -
Goodwin is 1-0 as Clemson's defensive coordinator.
Goodwin is 1-0 as Clemson's defensive coordinator.

Biscuits and violins don’t go together. Unless you’re roaming the Clemson sidelines calling out defensive signals.

New defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin has already made a big impression during his month on the job, spawning parody Twitter accounts and bringing phrases like, “No risk it, no biscuit” back to the forefront. Now we can add violins to the mix.

Goodwin’s first game at the helm of the vaunted Clemson defense was a thing of beauty, a 20-13 victory over Iowa St. in the Cheez-It Bowl last week in Orlando. Iowa State came in with the Big 12’s leading passer in veteran quarterback Brock Purdy, yet the Tigers held Iowa State to 270 total yards and made Purdy look average. Purdy was held to a 59% completion rate with as many interceptions (1) as he had scoring tosses, which accounted for Iowa State’s lone touchdown.

The Cyclones’ other seven points came on the right foot of kicker Andrew Mevis as the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense held Iowa State to two fewer points than it allowed on average during the regular season. The Cyclones mustered just 14 first downs and 4.5 yards per play.

Linebacker James Skalski was injured early in the contest and spent most of the game on the sidelines acting as an assistant coach, and he said that he thinks Goodwin has musical talent. Of a sort.

“I swear he's got like a violin going on there,” Skalski said, mimicking a brain spinning. “Wes has been in the background for a long time. “We are still getting to know him. I know Wes, don't get me wrong, but we're still really getting to know him. Even the things he said in meetings, we're learning. He's funny, man. He's funny. So, we're still learning. We're learning as much as you guys, every second out there. But no, we knew he was ready, prepared.

“He's a brilliant guy, understands the game, obviously wise in the position he is. And then endgame adjustments, that was one of my biggest just curious about how it'd be, because Coach V was so good at that. And Wes did a great job again, just talking, teaching as things are happening, and fixing things on the fly, and it was great.”

Cheez-It Bowl MVP Mario Goodrich said he was thrilled to get the win for Goodwin.

“It means a lot,” Goodrich said postgame. “Like Coach (Dabo) Swinney said, we had two weeks of good preparation when we were at Clemson and here. I just feel like all the guys bought in. They really respect [Coach Goodwin] and Coach Conn. They just want to see the next team do better. Like the seniors. We just…we want to leave it all out there and make a statement for the next team that comes in.”

Skalski said it was a great first step for the guy they call Weslichick (in a nod to New England's Bill Belichick).

“Oh yeah, good old Wes Goodwin. Weslichick. He's doing it his own way. You know? It's cool,” Skalski said. “Even growing up playing football, I always had coaches like Coach V, in your face, intense. And don't get me wrong, Wes will get your face and all, but it's just been really cool these past weeks to see him kind of do it differently, do it his way. And I think everyone was very curious to see what tonight was going to be like, even we were, us players, we knew the preparation we put in and the buy-in we had, so we expected that, a good performance, but everyone was curious, and that was just a great first go around for him and a great first game for him and Coach V, I think. So I've been really excited for that first game and we've been building on that.”

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