Clemson players spoke with reporters via teleconference Wednesday morning. Taking part in the call were defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, linebacker Baylon Spector, offensive lineman Cade Stewart, and wide receiver EJ Williams. Here are the highlights from everything that was said.
Defensive Tackle Bryan Bresee
— “Super exciting” to be named ACC Rookie of the Year. It wasn’t necessary a goal that he set, but it was a surprise.
— The loss at Notre Dame was tough, but it was a rare opportunity to get to play them again and re-gameplan against them “and do what we needed to do to come out with a win.”
— This week is a time crunch. As much as they can on their own they have to watch film and get ready for Ohio State.
— He watched last year’s game at home with his friends. “It was a game that you couldn’t take your eyes off the tv for.” This game will be a tough challenge and as long as they prepare the right way and do everything they need to “we should be alright.”
— Ohio State is a great school. He was recruited by OSU. He liked the school a lot. Super excited to play against Ohio State and it’s going to be a great matchup.
— The Ohio State offensive line is mostly veterans who have played in a bunch of big games. They’re going to know what to do. “They’re going to be ready for the moment. They’re all really good.”
— The Clemson defense is better when MLB James Skalski is on the field. It’s like having a coach on the field.
— They will get a little break for Christmas. His family will be visiting him and it will be nice to visit with all of them. His family will be going to the game. “It’s always nice to see your support.” They have also had games without parents at times and it’s tough but it just comes with the challenges of this year.
Linebacker Baylon Spector
— Having James Skalski on the field is always big. You see that every time he can be out there. He’s missed some time but it was good to see him back against Notre Dame.
— The performance against Notre Dame was Clemson’s best defensive game of the season. “No one likes to lose, so we were definitely pumped up for the game.” Everybody was getting to the ball and doing what they were supposed to do.
— The emotion toll of this season is “a lot.” Every season has its own challenges, but week in and week out they do a good job of handling the off time. Recovery takes place on the Sundays after games. It’s definitely hard and very challenging with everything going on, but you kind of get used to it. Just thankful to be in the situation now and knowing that better days will come.
— He was excited when he saw Ohio State would be their opponent in the playoffs. Exciting to be in the playoffs again.
— OSU has a great offensive line and skill. Justin Fields brings a lot to the table. Their wideouts are really good and unique.
— As a defense, Clemson was good going into the game last year. They are better statistically this year even losing some players. There are new starters this year. They have a bunch of guys who have started and gotten time. Players fill in all the time and that has created depth.
— Playing well in last year’s OSU game gives him confidence in this game as well. He knows the defense can execute the calls.
— DC Brent Venables does a great job each and every week. The staff prepares as best they can. They give the players a game plan that they can execute.
— Justin Fields will bring a bunch of challenges to this defense. “We’ll do the best we can to contain him.”
— Not having safety Nolan Turner for the first half is big. He’s a coach and communicator on the field. His ability to recognize stuff is big. “We’re going to miss him.”
— He believes the targeting rule should be re-evaluated.
— Trey Sermon is a great talent and they will prepare the same for him and execute the game plan.
Offensive Lineman Cade Stewart
— The Ohio State defensive line is physical. “They line up and play football.” They’re not trying to trick you because they’re good at what they do. They lock in and play physically. Clemson needs to learn how to play with these guys over the next week or so.
— “Every team has its own little flavor, its own little twist.” “We think we have a good feeling of how we’re gonna play them and how they’re gonna play us.”
— What does Trevor Lawrence bring to the running game? “You’ve got to honor him. It doesn’t matter if we’re throwing the ball or running the ball. He may be 6-6 but the dude can fly. He can hurt you any way you want it.”
— When you have Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence behind you, it makes his job easy. When a defense thinks they’ve handled Lawrence, there goes Etienne, and vice versa.
— Asked when they’ll be game planning for Ohio State if it will be this weekend or on Sunday, “I’m a day-to-day kind of guy, so I’m the wrong guy to ask.”
— Dabo Swinney trusts his players to spend time with their families properly. Socially distanced and with masks.
— They definitely look forward to playing big-time schools every year. On Ohio State: “It’s kind of turned into a little rivalry. We like it.”
— They prepare the same week in, week out, regardless of how bad Ohio State may want this one.
Wide Receiver EJ Williams
— How much pressure did he have on him to sign with Alabama and is his family looking ahead to Alabama? There wasn’t a lot of pressure to sign with Bama.
— He liked Clemson because of how well they developed wide receivers and this place felt like home and family.
— He’s more comfortable now as a true freshman after getting into the flow of the season. Once you understand what you’re doing, “it’s just like high school.”
— On Ohio State: “They’re all pretty good DBs.” They have big, tall corners. It will be a good matchup. They had a lot of first rounders last year. Shaun Wade is a great, athletic guy.
— Describing himself as a wide receiver, he compares himself to Justin Jefferson. Not the biggest guy, but fast and with twice and always going to get the job done.
— He’s always had high expectations for himself. He didn’t expect to start towards the end of the season like he is, but that’s due to circumstances but he also needs to keep working to make sure he can handle the responsibility.