Everyone and their brother had full confidence in the fact that the Clemson Tigers were focused on the Boston College Eagles this past Saturday and were not looking ahead to the pending match up this week with the Florida State Seminoles.
And when this guy says everyone, he means everyone. Dabo Swinney, Tajh Boyd and even the guy who owns the Ingles as you head out towards Pendleton. But by the end of the first quarter and definitely as the sounds of the marching bands filled the air at halftime, every person who bleeds the purple, orange and white were thinking it was the beginning of the end.
But there is something special about this Clemson team. Something bigger than the usually talented offensive players who have to rise up and save the day. The difference in this Tiger squad is that when it needed saving it wasn’t Boyd or Sammy Watkins or the even the ghost of Woody Dantzler. It was the defense who kept Clemson in the game and then sealed the deal in the fourth quarter thanks to Vic Beasley scoring the clinching touchdown off a fumble on a sack of the Eagles Chase Rettig by Tony Steward.
“Anytime you can score on defense, tight game or not, it’s always huge and it’s difficult to do,” Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables said. “It came at a critical time in the game, and it created a lot of momentum for us. Nobody deserves it more than Tony with the things he’s been through. He really seized his opportunity, and I’m happy for him. I’m happy for us. I think they’re pretty special. They’ve got a chemistry about them. They like to play. There’s great trust. We’re playing with discipline. We play with incredible effort and passion. And I didn’t name one thing about how many stars they had or all the height and weight and speed or how fast they all are. It’s all those other things that give you an opportunity.”
As a team, Clemson finished with five sacks in the victory. Beasley recorded five tackles, including a pair for losses, and his ninth sacks on the season en-route to becoming the first defensive player to earn the coveted Leather Helmet Award since its inception.
“We came in with a big chip on our shoulder,” Beasley said. “A lot of people doubted us and said we weren’t going to be the strength of the team, but I feel like we’ve become the strength of the team and I feel like we made that statement today. No knock on our offense, I want our offense to be great too, but I feel like we’re making the statement to be one of the best defenses in the country.”
And with the Noles looming and a BCS Title hinging on every game, there is no better time for the resurgence of a once feared defense to proudly roam the field at Death Valley.