Bee Killer: Dorian O'Daniel thrives against the Georgia Tech option


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O'Daniel has saved his best games for Georgia Tech
O'Daniel has saved his best games for Georgia Tech

CLEMSON – Dorian O’Daniel loves to play against Georgia Tech, and the senior linebacker out of Maryland gets his last crack at the Yellow Jackets Saturday at 8 p.m.

O’Daniel has had an All-American season so far, leading the Tigers in tackles with 61 and he already has two interception returns for touchdowns, something no Clemson linebacker had done previously.

O’Daniel has always played like an All-American against the Yellow Jackets. Entering this year, O’Daniel had each of his top three tackle games as a Tiger against Georgia Tech. He had 10 stops including a sack at Tech in 2014, then had eight tackles including three tackles for loss in a Clemson win over Georgia Tech in 2015, and finally eight stops and two tackles for loss against Paul Johnson’s team last year.

O’Daniel has 26 career tackles in 140 career plays with six tackles for loss and two sacks in his three games against the Yellow Jackets, and he told the media earlier this week that playing against the option allows him to just play the game.

"Early on it was my instincts. That was the first game I really got to get in when B.J. Goodson got injured in my redshirt year and come in and just play the game,” O’Daniel said. “Coming in I was comfortable with the game plan. Coming in I kind of let my instincts take over and I think that helped me play at a high level. Going forward and years after that, me applying my concepts, details, my technique, everything like that, I believe that it'll help me more than in my first year or even maybe the second year."

Unlike many defensive players, O’Daniel likes playing against the option.

"Yeah, I think that if everyone does their job then you have a chance of being successful and for me personally, I just feel like I'm at an advantage because I can really showcase my sideline to sideline movement in defending the run,” he said.

O’Daniel said the key to stopping Georgia Tech this season is stopping quarterback TaQuon Marshall.

"They're throwing it a lot more than I've seen in previous years,” O’Daniel said. “He's very fast and a very good competitor. That's the thing about Georgia Tech, they don't lose a whole lot they just reload kind of like Clemson. You have to respect all of their players as runners and all of their receivers as potential pass threats because you have to keep the defense honest. Our defensive backs are going to be challenged, our linebackers and d-lineman are going to have to be gap sound so it's going to be a challenge."

Clemson’s defense was shredded by Syracuse two weeks ago, and O’Daniel said the loss might turn out t be a blessing.

"It's definitely tough but I think it was needed,” he said. “One, just for the loss to resonate with the team and everyone get their mind right. I think the week off was beneficial too, being able to disengage from the game and watch other teams and kind of refocus for this final stretch of the season."

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