A new and improved Cle Missile ready to launch


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Ferrell says he still has work to do
Ferrell says he still has work to do

CLEMSON – Death Valley is a magical place, but it gets loud and even more magical when it’s third down and the Clemson defense is on the field. The crowd stands and roars, the music plays, the lights flash and everybody but the opponent is looking for a quarterback sack.

Clelin Ferrell loves it just as much as you do, but he’s learned that to sack the quarterback and enjoy those truly great moments, you have to stop the run on first and second down.

Ferrell had 44 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks last season, but he wants to take his game to the next level in 2017. He sat down with TigerNet earlier this week and talked about the transition from high school to college, saying that the hardest part was learning that sometimes you can do everything right on a play and still not get a sack or a tackle.

“It's crazy. It's something I had a hard time dealing with, too. It's depressing,” said Ferrell, who goes by the nickname Cle Missile. “You get so close and you want to keep going as hard as you can and you want a sack. It's something that Coach (Marion) Hobby talked to me about and worked with me on. It's not always all about getting sacks. Guys get maybe 20 sacks in a great year, but how many pass rushes did it take to get those 20 sacks?

“So it's more about affecting the quarterback and affecting the overall game. It's about making the quarterback step up in the pocket, making them scramble and things like that. Getting that hit on them, knocking them down, things like that. You know you are playing well if you're doing things like that. It's affecting the quarterback is really the part that you have to look at and judge if you're playing well.”

He says he wants to be a great player on running downs and passing downs.

“When you come in, you are like, 'You brought me here to sack the quarterback. Stop the run? What do you mean?' And then, you have to realize that in order to sack the quarterback you have to stop the run,” Ferrell said. “The teams on our schedule, they have a run game and they will run the ball on you all day long if they can. That is just another part of me. I want to be a great player all around and stopping the run game is a part of that. I feel like I have definitely improved on that this year and it's going to be fun to watch.”

If he can help his teammates stop the run, Ferrell knows he gets to do what he does best on third down, and he can do it in front of the Death Valley faithful. He told TigerNet he vividly remembers stepping on the field against Troy last season – his first game in the Valley as a player.

“My first time being in Death Valley, it was sunny outside, there were 80,000 out there, and you are like, 'Wow. I am really here.' It was an eye-opening thing. It was crazy,” Ferrell said. “All of these people are now watching you and want to see you perform. It was a moment I will never forget. I was out there the first time, and I was like, 'Wow. This took so much work to get here.' It was a blessing.”

The Louisville game is the one that stands out from last season.

“That was my first night game. But I feel like it didn't have an effect on me, the hype of the game because in coming to Clemson I expected to play in games like that,” Ferrell said. “I got to soak it all in. That was the first time I had been on the field and couldn't hear anything. Ben was out there yelling, and I was telling him I couldn't hear him and he was giving us the calls with his hands. That was crazy.”

That game also featured the one quarterback that frustrated Ferrell.

“When we played Louisville last year, it was kind of wild seeing how quick Lamar Jackson is,” he said. “That was kind of crazy. He was very elusive, and you would miss him and it would be like, on to the next one, come on, come on. That was the big one for me.”

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