While the accolades have poured in for Clemson’s defensive line, a particular group of players continues to grind to make sure they play their role in the Tigers’ effort in the Sugar Bowl Monday.
Last year, Clemson’s most recognizable player was a linebacker in Ben Boulware, and while this year the Tigers have a high-profile linebacker in Dorian O’Daniel, he’s been as much of a threat as a nickelback in the defensive arsenal.
That attention makes the tackling work of players like Kendall Joseph, Tre Lamar and others who became the backbone of Clemson’s 12-1 record.
Joseph has played the second-most snaps on the team to O’Daniel, also trailing him in tackles with 80 to Dorian’s 99.
He believes his game has taken significant growth this season, but he also has realized his role as a leader to those who look up to him:
Tre Lamar returns from an injury that kept him out for the last quarter of the season and he credits players like JD Davis and James Skalski for stepping up in his absence.
Another player returning from injury is CB Marcus Edmond, who was a major contributor last season. In spite of an injury-filled senior year, he says nothing is hampering him from putting his stamp on his collegiate twilight:
It will be almost one whole month before the Tigers step on a game field again on Monday night at the SuperDome.
The team held three practices at Tulane University, and will hold a walk-through on Sunday at the game site to view the sightlines and get a feel for the Superdome turf.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney has been soaking in every moment this week, and reminiscing about his last trip to New Orleans, which resulted in a National Championship in 1992 with Alabama.
Swinney says the Tigers are fortunate to enter this contest at peak health, despite the injuries they went through this season on defense.