Watson on hype: "You have to put your hand in the dirt and be ready to play."

by - Senior Writer -

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – It’s game day in Tallahassee, Fla., and as Florida St. and Clemson fans make their way to their respective tailgates, hold up signs on the ESPN GameDay set, and run errands at home so they can watch the game from the comfort of their favorite chair, many are thinking the same thing: Can the Clemson defense stop Florida St.?

While the fans count down the hours until kickoff, the Tigers will sit in their hotel and finish their final preparations for the Seminoles, a process that began for the Clemson defense in the minutes following the Furman game last week.

“Coach [Brent] Venables got us hyped up for this game straight after the win over Furman,” defensive tackle Josh WatsonJosh Watson
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said this week. “He called us over in the corner, and he gave us a big speech to get us ready to play right then. He told us what was expected of us.”

Watson said he understands that not many people give the Tigers a chance, but that once the emotion subsides, it’s still just football.

That, he said, was part of Venables’ message to his defense last Saturday.

“He said there is going to be a rocking crowd, and we are going to be playing against one of the top teams in the country,” he said. “But once you get down to it, the football field is still 100 yards and you still have to play 11-on-11. They are one of our rivals, definitely. They’re ranked No. 4 in the country and picked to win the national championship, so we know this is a good team. The good thing about that, games aren’t won by media before the game. You’ve got to put your hand in the dirt and play. We’ll be coming down there ready to play.”

Watson said he is looking forward to the entire experience.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “That is the biggest stage possible, and everybody will be watching, millions of people. This is what you dream about when you dream of playing college football. You dream about these kinds of games.”

Watson said that like many Clemson fans, he will be watching GameDay Saturday morning.

“I watch it every Saturday at the hotel before our games,” he said. “It’s going to be crazy to think those guys are actually out there analyzing our game, and hyping it up for a big top-10 match up.”

Watson said he also has no illusions about who Lee Corso will pick at the end of the show.

“I predict he’s going to predict them to win, all of them, actually,” Watson said. “We’re not really worried about that. We’ve just got to come down there and execute our job, try to come out there with a victory in a hostile environment.”

Watson said that once the show is over, it will be time to get back to thinking about Florida St. in a game that has ACC Atlantic Division title implications – the winner basically has a two-game lead.

“This is definitely a huge game. It’s the first game of ACC play for us. Basically, the winner of this game is in the driver’s seat,” Watson said. “We don’t want anything to be left to chance, to where we have to have this certain team lose and things like that. We want to be in the driver’s seat. We definitely want to win this game, just like we want to win every other game. We know the implications of this game.”

In order for that to happen, the Tigers must stop what has been a potent FSU rushing attack.

“They’re doing a lot of heavy zone blocking, trying to stretch the defense out, find holes and things like that, so we’ve just got to play gap defense and plug it up, do our jobs,” Watson said. “That’s all there is to it. We have to execute on all cylinders.”

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