Can Clemson go 30-0? Clemson LB says 'Why not speak it into existence?'
|Tuesday, December 24, 2019 8:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON – This year’s Ohio State team might be the greatest team of all time. Maybe it’s LSU. Last year, it was Alabama. In 2016, it was Alabama. Clemson linebacker James Skalski doesn’t care what anybody else thinks, because he knows that only one team has the chance to go 30-0 over the last two seasons and that team resides in South Carolina.
He believes it will happen. If you believe it, why not speak it into existence?
Skalski held court at Clemson’s media day last week and discussed the Tigers’ upcoming Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State and the College Football Playoff in general. He was asked about the national narrative that while Clemson has accomplished so much over the last few years, they aren’t usually a team mentioned when it comes to naming the all-time greats.
“I think the only thing that's held true to those statements over the years is that someone has had to go prove that,” Skalski said. “I think that is all we are focused on. People can believe whatever they want but at the end of the day, someone has to go prove it. That is what we are trying to do.”
The Tigers became the first modern-era team to win 15 games in a season when they won the National Championship last season. A repeat means 30-0 over the last two seasons, something that head coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t hesitate to use when speaking with the media.
Skalski loves the faith his head coach has in his players. Speak it into existence, he says.
“Everything starts with a belief. You have to firmly believe in something for it to come true,” Skalski said. “Yeah, why beat around the bush? We have two games and we can make history again. Why not believe it? Why not speak it into existence? Why not believe in your heart that this team can do that? I think this team does. Actually, I know this team does. It's won every single day with how you prepare and how you do things, everything you do on the clock is something that counts.”
Skalski knows the Clemson defense will have its hands full with the Ohio State offense, but he believes the Tigers have a key ingredient – defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
“When you have a guy like Coach V in your corner, you know you're gonna have a really good shot to win. Against anybody,” he said. “And when you have the players that are able to match the intensity that he has, and the want-to to perform at a high level and put it all on tape and be ready for the moment, it's usually a pretty special thing. So I think if we can all get on the same page and get the plan down and have the same mindset every single day in preparing for these guys, then we will be able to put on a show.
“There is a science to the game, and he understands that science. I came here because of him, and I thought, 'that guy will make me the best I can be.' And I saw what he can do with X's and O's. Seeing what I knew walking in the door as a freshman and then what I know now, it's not even close. The credit goes to Coach V. He has taught me so much and I have learned so much. It's awesome to see my mindset and how that has evolved over the years.”
He knows he will have to play well if the Tigers hope to stop quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins, but it’s a challenge he accepts.
Speak it into existence.
“There are a lot of curls and they attack you vertically. They are efficient just like Virginia,” Skalski said. “More efficient. They are great on third down. They are a great team and it will be a great challenge.
"Of course. This is what, as a MIKE linebacker, this is playoff football and we're going against the best quarterbacks and running backs in the country. This is what it's all about, right there. We should be excited for that challenge. I want to be on that stage and prove myself.”