Freeman relishes chance to win one on the road

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The sounds of the Seminole war chant blended in with the loud crowd noise at Clemson’s practice Tuesday afternoon, the sounds echoing far and wide over the Clemson campus as head coach Dabo Swinney gets his players ready for Doak Campbell Stadium’s raucous atmosphere.

That noise is music to Dalton Freeman’s ears.

The Tigers travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida St. Saturday night, and the sophomore center said he can't wait to try and get a win on the road, where Clemson is 0-3 this season.

“I love playing on the road,” Freeman said. “Everything is kind of hectic, and anyone who is any kind of competitor loves to go on the road and win a ballgame. I think we play in front of the greatest fans in the nation here in Death Valley, but it’s fun to go on the road and play in front of something different.

“I love going on the road, and now we are going to try and get a win. Their stadium is similar to the ones at any of those big-time programs. They are all huge, and similar in their own way. I am sure we are going to have the tomahawk chop, the spear, and the war chants. Each team has their own little different thing.”

Freeman said that each week has presented its own challenge to Clemson’s offensive line – from Maryland’s all-out blitz packages to Georgia Tech’s 3-4 to Boston College’s stingy run defense – and the Seminole defense will present a stiff challenge as well.

“It seems like when it rains, it pours,” he said. “Each week is a new challenge with a new scheme. This group has better athletes, and they lead the country in sacks. The good news is that they don’t rely a lot on blitzes, they rely more on winning the 1-on-1 battle. And they’ve been finding a way to win those.”

FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops doesn’t blitz heavily, and Freeman said it will be fun to just line up and go play.

“I don’t think we as a group on the offensive line have played as well lately as we did earlier in the year,” he said. “Some of that is due to tentativeness because of what we’ve seen week in and week out. We have had a ton of different blitzes and packages, and we have been thinking about reading the field. Anytime you have to think that much, it’s hard to play fast and aggressive. I am looking forward to this week, where we can find our man, line up and go play.”

The Noles feature Brandon Jenkins, second to Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers in sacks and tackles for loss, and an athletic group of linebackers. Freeman said positioning will be important to the Tigers’ success.

“I think these guys have as much talent as anybody we’ve played,” he said. “They are certainly more athletic, they run extremely well and they are physical guys. They are not afraid to come up and hit you in the hole, so we have to take great angles on them. If you don’t take a great angle, they are just going to run around you. Film study will be important for us this week, just to see how they play the blocks.”

Freeman said his goals for the weekend are to get a win, obviously, but to also get a little “swagger” back on the offensive line.

“We have not been playing bad, per se, but we have not been playing with the same kind of swagger lately like we did early on,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with the inconsistency of the defenses we’ve been seeing every week, with all of the different blitzes and packages teams have thrown at us. Both run blocking and pass blocking have been inconsistent. This week, we just need to line up and go play and get that swagger back.”

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