Clelin Ferrell says Waffle House incident changed his perception of Gamecock fans
|Monday, November 20, 2017, 1:43 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Growing up in the state of Virginia, Clelin Ferrell didn’t quite understand the animosity that exists between Clemson and the University of South Carolina. As a senior in high school, a trip to a Waffle House in Columbia changed his perception, and perhaps his school of choice.
The redshirt sophomore defensive end met with the media Monday afternoon in the Tigers’ indoor practice facility, and he recounted the first time he realized the animosity that exists between the Clemson and South Carolina fans.
“My first visit to Clemson, I came in for the spring game and heard a lot of different things about the rivalry and people saying different things,” Ferrell said. “After my first visit to Clemson, I took a visit to South Carolina. Mind you, it’s a little bit different down there. Their fans take it a little bit differently than how our fans do. Obviously, none of us like each other. When I went down there, I went to Waffle House, and some guy came walking into the Waffle House in Columbia with a Clemson shirt on. Next thing I know, I see people trying to fight him and stuff like that. I was like, ‘OK, what is going on here?’ But yeah, its’ real down here. Now I understand why people take it so seriously.”
Ferrell said last year’s game didn’t change his perception, only strengthened it.
“It’s a very chippy game, just from my experience,” he said. “Last year, we heard about the things their coaching staff had to say about us, and you hear the talk from sideline to sideline. At the end of the day you still have to go out and play, but it’s fun to enjoy the whole vibe you get from the game. It gets you amped up.”
Ferrell made the trip to Williams-Brice as a redshirt two years ago, and that visit only added to what he learned that day at the Waffle House.
“Me, Tanner Muse and Denzel (Johnson) rode down to that game. I remember being on that field watching that whole atmosphere. Some of their fans were throwing stuff at our sideline. And it was a really good game. A close game. They say they should have won that game, but maybe we can go down there and put that to bed. They play that same old song and wave those towels around. I’ve never been to a night game down there so I can’t wait.”
He then said that he thinks South Carolina fans might take things a little too far.
“From what I’ve seen, I’ve seen them take it a little bit too far,” Ferrell said. “When I went down there my redshirt year they were throwing stuff at us and throwing stuff at us as we walked into the tunnel. Fans do that everywhere, and that was really my first look at the rivalry. I didn’t understand how serious it was.”
Head coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t let the players forget about the Gamecocks’ five-game winning streak in the series.
“I just think about Coach Swinney talking about when they beat us five years in a row. Coach Swinney would sometimes take pictures with different South Carolina fans, just because they would come up to him and ask for pictures, and a lot of times they would be in the picture doing this (five bomb),” Ferrell said. “He didn't know what that meant. So, when he told me that story and someone had finally told him what that meant he was like 'dang I didn't know that was going on'.
“That was kind of funny to me. So I kind of think about that. I don't really get into the whole thing with rivalries because when you are a player that shouldn't affect you and that shouldn't be the reason why you are playing just because it's a rivalry. That shouldn't be your motivation. It should be just going out there and playing your best for your team and stuff like that.”
Last year’s game at Clemson featured the usual back-and-forth.
“Just a whole lot of trash talk going on. A whole lot of pushing after plays and stuff like that,” Ferrell said. “Obviously we had the upper hand last year. We played one of our best games of the year against them. Obviously, they were heated about how they were playing. A lot of the talk was we only play so well because of Deshaun (Watson) and things like that. It was just a very, very intense game going on and not even when it was close at first but the entire game because they were mad about how they were playing.”
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley made several comments after last year’s game that the Clemson players noticed.
“We hear the talk. We don't really listen to it, though. Obviously, he's a competitor and he's going to think his team is just as good as ours or just like any team you play or compete with, which you should,” Ferrell said. “Obviously, you can't get into that. It's about what you do on the field and how you show it. Last year they didn't really put on the performance that they wanted to. We definitely know (with them) at home, a night game, last game of the season for them. They're definitely going to want to put this one to bed and show that last year - kinda show it was a mistake on their part. We got to come out and be ready to play.”
What about “never again?” Ferrell repeats "never again" and smiles before answering.
“I don't really have too many thoughts on that. It's going to be up to us if that's true or not,” he said. “Really we just have to go up there and not really worry about what they have to say. At the end of the day we know it's about players making plays and who's going to go out there and be the most physically tough team out there. We're just going to have to see Saturday.”