Monday with Miguel

by - Senior Writer -
Defensive tackle Miguel Chavis has 22 tackles in his 151 snaps played this season.

CLEMSON – Defensive tackle Miguel Chavis has been a force this season, racking up 22 tackles in his 151 snaps played, and his off-the-field persona is much the same as you see on Saturday.

Chavis met with the media in the WestZone on Monday, and the following is an edited transcript of the conversation with the senior out of Fayetteville, N.C.

Q: What did last Saturday’s win over Maryland mean for the Clemson program?

MC: It was big as a team, as a community, as a program. Coach Swinney has been using that word - program - a lot, changing the culture rather than an individual. When you can change a culture, the team and the individual will come automatically. And for us to get back to 3-3, somewhere where we didn’t think we would be, but you are who you are- we are a 3-3 and football team. We are a good 3-3 football team, but we are 3-3. The thing for us now is to not be happy and get complacent with this win, but for us to strive to get better every week. We have goals and we set goals every week as to what kind of defense we want to be. I remember at the beginning of the season, one of my teammates said we want to be the number one defense in the nation. That’s a very bold statement. Another teammate says we want to be the number rush defense in the nation. That’s another very bold statement, but we do. If all of those other 10 guys on the field with me don’t want to be that, then I don’t want them on the field with me. People are criticized for saying that they want to be the number one defense, but that’s what you should want to be. This win against Maryland- they are a very good team. Coach Friedgen had their team ready to go, their offensive line ready to play. It was time for us to step up. It was much-needed. That’s what we’re supposed to do.

Q: Just comment on the level that Da’Quan Bowers is playing on right now.

MC: He makes me happy to be his defensive tackle. He makes my job easier and I hope I make his job easier. We always joke with each other. Goodness gracious, what a guy. I remember this summer and what he went through with his father and we were there as a team and we went down and visited with his family- what a great family the Bowers’ are. The love he had for his father and his father had for him is just unbelievable. I remember saying to myself, ‘the NCAA better watch out because this is the worst thing that could’ve happened to him’. And, he’s playing like a man on fire and a man on a mission. People questioned Da’Quan’s work ethic the previous two years and wondering what’s going on with the number one player in the nation. I guarantee you nobody is questioning him as a player or man anymore. He’s a great teammate to have.

Q: You are always a spirited guy. Talk about your mental state coming off of a much needed win.

MC: I’m just crazy. I know I wear my heart on my sleeve and I feel like with this game, you’re supposed to. There are some guys that are just quiet. In game prep, they are quiet as a nun and then you put them on the field and they’re ready to go. For me, I have to be into it three days ahead of time. By Thursday, I’m already getting jacked up. I told my mom, ‘Don’t talk to me cause I’m going to be yelling at you on the phone I love you mama’. I’m ready to go by Thursday. That’s my role on this team and the guys know that if I look into their eyes and I see that they’re not into it- I want it and If I see that they don’t want it or aren’t into it - then I’m going to get on them. I can look into some of the guys eyes and they are like, ‘Alright Miguel, I’m into it, just leave me alone for right now’. This win was huge, but every win is big and every game is big. I feel like yesterday we were in summer camp and now we are six games into the season and how fast those six games went. We dug ourselves a hole, but we’re going to dig ourselves out.

Q: Are you to the point, halfway through the season that you maximize every minute that you go out??

MC: That’s the thing; I thought we were doing that before. We had a constant grind, a constant work ethic. I felt like we were always focused. You lose a game and people are going to criticize the coaches. Coaches don’t play, players play. Coaches might as well be a fan of the game. They give you your calls, adjustments, and tell you what you’re doing, but they’re not making a play. Coach Brooks isn’t making a tackle. He’s told us what to do and corrected us. As players, we are so quick to judge- we’re not getting coached well enough or that was a bad call. Where we are right now, there’s got to be a sense of urgency. We were 2-3 last year, and I hate to start 2-3 again this year, but I know the feeling of what it’s like to come back and get to the championship. That’s what I want this year.

Q: What’s the key to improving against Georgia Tech?

MC: This biggest thing with Georgia Tech is they have a great head coach. He’s been doing this since before I was even thought of. He knows the game and his team is great and is well-coached. People just don’t see the option a lot. It’s a quick turnaround preparing for the option. I’ve never beaten a team from Atlanta or in Atlanta in my career here at Clemson. I need to get one and I hope this is the one. We just have to play disciplined football more than anything else. Don’t try to make a play, let the plays come to you just like Coach Steele says. Just play disciplined football with the option.

Q: How much does the ACCCG, in particular the last drive, stick with you as you prepare for this game?

MC: It’s there. Honestly, for me personally, I’ve thought about more than just this week. When you’re 2-3 and you win six in a row and you get a chance to play in the championship game and you are a minute and twenty seconds to two minutes away from winning the game, you think you’re going to win the game. To not win the game and have oranges thrown on the field, at you and not for you, sticks with you. I want oranges thrown for me. Obviously we aren’t thinking about the championship right now; we have to beat Georgia Tech and play Georgia Tech this coming Saturday and that’s the most important thing.

Q: Does Georgia Tech use cut blocks more than anyone else? How do you as a defensive lineman combat that?

MC: Play disciplined and play with your eyes. We practice and Coach Brooks prepares us. He’s a legend as far as the players he’s coached- he’s a veteran. He’s awesome and has changed all of our games significantly. He’ll have us prepared for it. Do they cut more than others? I really don’t know. They’re going to cut you. There’s other teams that high-low you more than Georgia Tech cuts you, but we won’t get into that.

Q: Does it help to have so many guys on the defensive line that have played against Georgia Tech?

MC: Yes, there’s no doubt about it. It’s just confidence. There are a lot of see guys playing slow or not playing aggressive because they aren’t confident in what they do. We played them two times last year and it was even better playing them the second game. For us veteran guys- me, Da’Quan, Andre Branch, and Kourtnei Brown- we’ve all played against them. All of the tackles and defensive ends have played against them, other than Tyler Shatley, who was red-shirted. We’re going to be prepared. We know physically what it takes. We know schematically what it takes. We have to quit talking about it and go do it. We have to go beat Georgia Tech.

Q: The defensive line had another solid game and is building a reputation. What has it taken, especially, the last couple of weeks to get there?

MC: You can’t really get a good pass rush if your boys aren’t covering, so we just all have to work together. The biggest emphasis was getting up the field, keeping your rush lanes, and making the quarterback move around. When you can affect the quarterback, make him move around and force some holding calls, you make it better for everybody. We’ve taken responsibility for each other.

Q: Talk about the depth on the defensive line.

MC: The depth definitely helps. You become cheerleaders for your team when your aren’t in. When I’m not in, I’m watching Brandon and Jarvis. I’m watching when I’m on the sideline because there is something you don’t see when you’re on the play. You want to have your peripheral focus, because what you can’t see on the field that you see on the sideline. And when they get back to the sideline you tell them, ‘hey, this is what’s going on, watch for this’. There is great camaraderie and we are all good friends so it makes it easy to compete.

Q: You want to be at a certain level for every game, but do you have to get rid of the stuff internally that tells you that Georgia Tech has taken games away from you the last two years? Can that negatively impact they way you play?

MC: It can if you let it. I think the key is to be progressive about it. One of Coach Steele’s sayings is, ‘don’t say we don’t lose two-minute, but we win two-minute’. His thing is that we’ve gotten beat by Georgia Tech before, but why did we get beat- make it progressive, learn from it. I think you can use it as inspiration. Sometimes, I don’t know what’s better, the feeling of winning or the fear of failing. When you fail, you don’t ever want that feeling again- you don’t want that losing feeling. You can argue which feeling is more extreme, winning or losing.

Q: Which feeling is preeminent?

MC: Winning the game, no matter who we play. We play Georgia Tech this week and we played Maryland last week. Honestly, it doesn’t matter who we play or where we play- we can play in the parking lot if they want to- we have to play. That’s why I’m on a full ride. That’s why I live very good - to play. We are blessed for the opportunity to be able to play football every week. We just have to get the job done and win.

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