ATLANTA -- Shortly after a close 14-13 loss to Florida State, Georgia Tech’s freshman quarterback Reggie Ball proclaimed that his team would not lose another game.
After the Tigers 39-3 destruction of the Yellow Jackets, it appears the young quarterback provided just the bulletin material the Tigers were looking for.
“We were the next opponent,” said Clemson defensive end J.J. Howard. “ That was such a big statement coming from such a small man. We didn’t
appreciate that at all.”
Clemson backup defensive end Mo Fountain, who sacked Ball for a safety, agreed.
“We ain’t taking nothing away from him, but we just felt like it was kind of a slap in the face to say that they weren’t going to lose another conference game. With us next on the schedule, we felt like they just looked right over us. It motivated us.”
Also providing fuel to the Tigers fire was an Atlanta Journal Constitution article from Saturday that said the Tigers were soft defensively.
“It was just so disrespectful," said Howard. “They
played Florida State close and they were living off of that
game. You have to take each game seriously and they
didn’t take us seriously....We watched the game and how they played Florida State individually. We don’t feel like they played any harder than us individually.”
For Ball’s part, he told the AJC after the game, "I said it, and I've got to eat my words. When I said that statement, I didn't think we'd play like this."
Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden thought the timing of the game also played into the Tigers’ hand as well.
“Georgia Tech played awful physical games against Auburn and against Florida State. I’m sure their coaching staff tried to tell them it’s a long conference schedule.”
If Chan Gailey's words didn't ring true to his own team, Clemson's actions spoke even louder Saturday night.