“I’m anxious to see us play somebody else. I know our players are anxious to get out there so we can get a true evaluation of who we are.
“We’re pretty healthy – Demont Buice is the only guy that’s questionable (other than Joe Gore who is recovering from knee surgery).
“I have a ton of respect for Troy and their program. I’ve known Coach (Larry) Blakeney for a long time and have had a tremendous amount of respect for him building the program he has at Troy. They have five consecutive Sunbelt Conference Championships – I don’t care what conference you’re in, that’s impressive.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us, as far as an opener, because there are a lot of unknowns. Offensively, they’re led by their quarterback (Corey Robinsn) . He threw for almost 3,700 yards last year – he’s an impressive player. They have three running backs with experience – 20 (Shawn Southward) is their statistical guy.
“Receiver is a big questionmark. You don’t know who they’re going to throw the ball to. They’re going to be playing some young guys at that position, but so are we. The biggest thing for us is just to line up correctly. We have to line up correctly and tackle. We have to tackle the catch.
Their quarterback is hard to pressure and he scrambles well. We have to tackle the catch well, and not let guys get additional yards after the catch once we’ve made that contact. As far as their defense, you expect to see guys that play fast and play hard, and they have all those attributes.
“Statistically last year, they did some good things. They were fifth in the nation in sacks and 15th in the nation in tackles for loss. They’ll get after the quarterback. They have a premier player in (Jonathan) Massaquoi [#94]. He had 13 ½ sacks last year, just behind DaQuan Bowers, and he’s the guy I’m going to look to, if I’m them, to get after our new quarterback.
“They are solid at linebacker and have a couple of all-conference guys. For us offensively, we’re really playing ourselves. We have to execute at a high level. We can’t have stupid penalties, etc.
“I’m anxious to see their punter – he’s supposed to have a spectacular beard!”
“ I’m excited for us this week. Winning the opener is our first goal. It all starts here with troy and I’m excited about getting back out with our fans and opening Death Valley up for business.”
On Troy’s Offense
“They play a lot of wide zone, play action, screen, shovel passes, etc. and they rely on yards after the catch. That’s why it’s going to be imperative we tackle well. It’s going to be a good contest between our players in the secondary. We’re going to see what some of our young guys can do early on.”
On Season’s Question Marks
“We have plenty of question marks. On the outside looking in, people are looking at our new quarterback, our new offensive coordinator. Have our players picked up the system? I’m confident with that.
“My question mark is “do we have dependable depth?” Until you play, you just don’t know the answer to that. Hopefully we’ll see some of our young guys make progress during these first few games. We like being able to start guys on our own terms – not because someone is injured, etc.
“ I think by mid-season, you’re going to see some of these young guys really emerge. They’re talented. We have to play somebody to see what we’ve accomplished in the off-season. Y’all are going to be excited.”
On Jonathan Massaquoi
“Mostly he’s going to be on our right side, matched up against Landon Walker, but they may move him over to the left side. If I’m them, I’m thinking, “they have a walk-on left tackle starting, I’m putting him on that side,” but I have no doubts about what Philip Price can do.”
On Depth Chart
“DeShawn Williams has been very consistent and very eager. He and Grady (Jarrett) are not ready to play, but they’re both going to be good players. I’d hate to have to start those guys now, but hopefully if we can play them on our terms, by mid-season they’re going to be solid backups for us.
“They bring energy, focus, discipline, and they love to play and love to practice and they have all the intangibles. We needed some depth there. But we have to see if they can be that depth for us during a game situation. “
On Tajh Boyd
I’m not nervous about Tajh. He’s played. He’s been out there. All I can do is base it on how he’s practiced. He’s practiced very well and he’s very confident. He knows what he’s doing. He’s going to make some mistakes, but I expect him to play well and have a very good season. He doesn’t have to win the game. In this system, all the pressure isn’t on him. The way we call the game is going to be important.”
On Dwayne Allen
“Dwayne Allen has matured a ton. He’s a very focused guy. I can’t say enough about him from when he got here to where he is now. I’m so proud of him. He has taken on a leadership role and has thrived in it. He holds himself to a very high standard in the way he practices, and prepares, everything. He’s now trying to hold his teammates accountable. Dwayne comes to play every day. If they were all like him, this would be an easy job. He’s going to be a huge factor in our game plan every week.
On Chad Morris
“He’s been wonderful to work with. Sometimes you have an instinct and a gut feel and I got that with him the first time we talked. We think the same way, it’s just a good situation. He’s handled our team very well. The players have bought in 100% in what we’re trying to do, and that’s a big part of it. You can do whatever, but if people don’t buy into it, it’s not going to work. We have an excellent staff and Chad has been a big part of that. He’s an easy guy to work with and I’m excited about what he’s done here in a short time. He’s excited about game day just like I am.
On Andre Ellington
“We’re going to get him the ball as much as we can. It just depends on the game. A big reason we made it to the 2009 championship is because we got CJ (Spiller) the ball as much as we could. Ellington is like that. He’s the only guy I see as an every down kind of guy right now. We’ll see how Saturday goes. I want to see him play well and make sure we do a good job of getting him the ball. He is a guy who can be the player of the Year in this league.
On What to Expect This Week
“I just want to see our guys execute and not beat themselves. I don’t want to see the typical things you see in openers. I want us to play a clean game and not beat ourselves. We have a lot of young guys we’re going to have to play and they’re going to have to grow up. Our defense has an advantage because we’ve worked against a high-speed offense all off-season. We’re just going to have to go out and execute.
On New Celebration Rule
“This new celebration rule is going to cost someone a game. Or it’s not going to get called and that’s going to be a controversy. I don’t worry about our guys. Sammy Watkins – sometimes I’d like to see a little more emotion out of him. But I do have a couple other guys I might be worried about. I just hope that penalty doesn’t come into play against us.”
On What to Expect This Year
“I expect us to have a good year. I don’t think many people outside of Clemson expect a lot out of us, but that’s fine. I expect a lot out of us. We’re looking to put last season behind us. Until you play a game, people are going to keep reminding you of it. We weren’t a bad team last year – we had a bad record. At the end of this season, we want to have the kind of record that reflects what kind of team we are. We want to compete for that championship again. There’s 6 or 7 teams that have a legitimate shot to win this conference and I think we’re one of them.
On Having New Guys
“Sammy Watkins is starting for us in his first college game. That’s unusual (just 13 Clemson first year freshmen have started first game since 1972). He’s a special player. He’s been electrifying since he got here. Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant are guys that I’m excited to see. Mike Bellamy is electric and he’s going to be able to help us change some games this year. He’s not a complete guy yet, but he is a game changer. We have more weapons now.
“The biggest thing – we’re getting #23 (Ellington) back. He’s a difference maker. He’s a special player. I really believe he has the ability to be the player of the year in this conference. He has the ability to have all the individual success in the world. We have more weapons. The system is really going to help us, really with Tajh Boyd at quarterback.”