CLEMSON -- The Clemson Tigers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are set to resume the festivities on Saturday night in Tampa, with an ACC Championship and a berth in the BCS’ Orange Bowl on the line, and Clemson guard Thomas Austin said that playing a team for the second time in a season is a case of knowing your opponent well.
Austin met with members of the ACC media, and said he and all of his teammates are looking forward to lining up against Georgia Tech for another go-around.
“It is a unique challenge," Austin said. “I've never had to really do it before in college. You know, we know their personnel well. We've gone against those guys the last couple of years and this season, but from a schematic standpoint, we know what they do, they know what we do, so I think for us it'll just be a matter of not trying to hide things but just doing what we do a little bit better. From an execution standpoint, we're going to have to be on our "A" game in that regard, and then just play a complete game for 60 minutes.”
The Tigers have not won an ACC title since 1991, and Austin said having the opportunity to win another one would mean a ton to the Clemson program.
“Well, it's absolutely vital for us as a program,” Austin said of winning the ACC Championship Game. “We have a winning tradition here at Clemson that's something we take pride in, as does Georgia Tech; we have won a lot of championships here, but to not have won a conference championship in 18 years is something that we see as a unique opportunity for us to capitalize on that and to play well this weekend and to have a chance to play in those big BCS January Bowl games is something that is a goal as a player, and that's what we were sold on coming out of high school, that we were going to have that opportunity if we came to Clemson. To see that come to fruition the last couple years, just a lot of hard work, it's very rewarding for us.”
Austin said that the loser of this week’s game will have a hard time regaining any momentum heading into a bowl game, which adds extra incentive for a victory.
“We're both coming off a tough loss, and whoever loses this game is going to be on a two-game losing streak going into the Bowl game, so I think that'll be a tough mentality to overcome through the month of December,” Austin said. “For us to win this game, to have a chance to play in a BCS Bowl game, obviously carries all kinds of momentum into the off-season, I think recruiting-wise and obviously just to put our program back on the map a little bit. We've been very close the last couple years, but to see what Coach Swinney and his staff have done just to turn our program around the last year has been a tremendous testament to him and to the leadership of the team.”
Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel was asked about playing the option-style offense of Georgia Tech for a second time this season, and McDaniel that the experiences gained in the first meeting will be invaluable throughout the week in practice and on Saturday.
“I just think we'll be more prepared for it,” McDaniel said. “I mean, it doesn’t look like too many things have changed since the first time we played them and in the second half we played them pretty good. The first half they got a few big plays on us, so we're just looking forward to stopping them this time.”
Tiger running back C.J. Spiller said that he wants to win to he can be remembered as champion.
“People remember champions, and that's one of the reasons I came back for my senior year is to try to win the championship game,” Spiller said. “That's something that hasn't been done here in 18 years, and I want to try to help this team accomplish that.”