Former Clemson All-American Terry Kinard, one of the greatest defensive players in college football history, recently shared his thoughts with us on tonight’s big contest.
When I say Georgia/Clemson, what does that mean to you?
That’s great tradition, two schools that have wonderful history in football. Back when we used to play Georgia it was always a heated rivalry, and I’m happy they’re getting back together.
What are the important facets of the game you need to focus on in order to have success in week 1?
I think one of the biggest things is turnovers and coming out, getting those guys prepared for game speed. Its going to be a little different atmosphere, and with the type of game it is, being national televised in primetime, you’ll be a little nervous. And I think the team that can control the turnovers, and the one that can control the clock and run the football. I think it’s going to be a power game, both schools are physical. But I think the team that can turn the football over less will win the game.
How would you try to attack the UGA offense?
You don’t want to give up big plays. They have big play capability on their offense. But I think one of the biggest things is being able to get the pass rush up front. I think if we can get a little pressure on the quarterback and take him out of his rhythm, as a secondary, your best friend is a pass rush. I think if we can get some pressure up front, with that front 4, without having to commit a lot of guys blitzing, you can do a whole lot more in the secondary. So I think if we can get pressure with the down 4, not having to do a lot of blitzing, that will go a long way in helping those guys in the secondary.
What’s it like running down the hill in Clemson and what do you think of this atmosphere considering its going to be a night game?
That is one of the greatest feelings ever, being a former player that had that experience. I think these guys that’s going into this game, with the magnitude of this game, its definitely going to be magnified. It’s a great tradition. When I was there it was always a part of the game that we loved, and we cherished. It just got you up. I think these guys, it will be a good motivating factor for them, and to try and live up to the tradition and keep it going for what that rock means.
Goals for this Clemson team, can you allow yourself to think about the national championship right now, or do you have to win this game and take one at a time?
I think you got to win the first one and see where the chips fall. With the kinds of players that they lost, trying to replace them is going to be tough. I think they have the kind of players, they still say their bringing in a lot of player to mix in with them. What I learned from Dabo Sweeney and what I know he is telling his guys is, win this one, take care of this game first and let the rest of them take care of themselves. And I know that’s what hes preaching to them, and that’s what most coaches are telling their guys. Go into this one, with everything you can, and win it, and worry about the rest of them as you get to them.
Clemson has lofty goals, potentially a national championship. What’s the difference between being a great team and being a championship team?
Ah man, it’s so much harder to do it now than when we did it, to me, because of the amount of games you have to play. It was difficult too when we did it, but I think that the competition, skill level, and the diversity of all of the many schools out there, and the way they have it set up, it is so much harder to do it. But I think that one of the things that the program is trying to get back to is building it to get back to the national championship. I think that they players they’ve gained, and what they’ve done over the past few years, they’ve been close, but I think that with the team, and the coaching staff that they have in place now, I think those goals are something that they can look towards. It’s been a long time, and if they can get this one Saturday night, I think it will take them a long way in the right direction.