A couple of Clemson Tigers talk about how they had been capable of have enjoyable throughout the crew’s 24-10 win over Georgia Tech on October 28, 2017.
Marcel Louis-Jacques/Orange and White

CLEMSON — OK, so the actual turning level of Clemson’s recreation in opposition to Georgia Tech was probably the sequence of Kendall Joseph forcing a fumble on the Yellow Jackets’ opening drive earlier than a two-play, 45-yard Clemson scoring drive. A crew’s opening drive in a hostile atmosphere is vital, and for Clemson to attain with such ease after forcing a turnover despatched a transparent message.

However we’ll concentrate on a second method extra enjoyable than a pressured fumble, one which put the Tigers’ persona on show for the world. 

A second throughout which a trio of 265-plus pound males danced in a choreographed unison reserved for 1 a.m. at a home get together. The second Clemson acquired its swagger again.

After all, I am speaking concerning the Swag Surf.

With 6:48 remaining within the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets took the sphere for the second time within the half; they had been in a rut and that is placing it flippantly. After scoring on a 25-yard discipline objective late within the first quarter, Georgia Tech went three-and-out on six of its subsequent seven drives — the one outlier being a four-play drive late within the second quarter during which it picked up 20 yards on the primary play, and three yards thereafter. 

Clemson’s protection took the sphere with a justifiable confidence, and because it waited for Georgia Tech to interrupt its huddle, Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Nyles Pinckney bobbed and weaved in place on the line of scrimmage as Tiger followers roared and resident DJ Sha despatched the Quick Life Youngstaz’ hit “Swag Surfin'” reverberating via Clemson’s concrete behemoth.

Watching the trio dance on the sphere, you could not badist however suppose this is Clemson — a fun-loving bunch of goofballs that gown up because the Energy Rangers for Halloween and play Tremendous Smash Bros. within the crew lounge.

“It was superior. It’s the proper state of affairs, it’s moist and raining. It was the proper track for that,” Bryant stated. “We had numerous enjoyable simply taking part in, being along with your brothers on the sphere. We ready all week for simply this second. We solely get seven alternatives in Dying Valley a 12 months, so if you’re on the market you simply acquired to get pleasure from it.”

Past the on-field impression — Georgia Tech would achieve -2 yards in its subsequent three performs following the Surf — the dance represented precisely what Clemson wanted to do in its first recreation after a jarring upset loss to Syracuse. 

Two weeks after shedding a recreation during which they by no means led, the Tigers had been using their very own wave as soon as once more.

“We don’t lose lots round right here. To go up (to Syracuse) and lose, then have two weeks to sit down round and give it some thought – it’s torture,” Bryant stated. “We wanted it … We got here out right here and performed one among our greatest video games of the 12 months. That’s all you’ll be able to ask for.

“We put some dangerous stuff on tape in opposition to Syracuse. We all know that wasn’t who we actually are, so this week we needed to get again to what Clemson protection is all about.”

And what higher evening may the Tigers have requested for than a soggy Saturday within the Valley? As rain pelted Memorial Stadium like somebody forgot to show the bathe head off above discipline, gamers had two decisions — mope concerning the climate or embrace it.

Properly really, for those who let linebacker Dorian O’Daniel inform it, there was actually solely one possibility.

“Earlier than the sport, as quickly as we got here out and it was pouring rain (we realized) you’ll be able to’t actually dodge the rain,” he stated. “Me and a pair different guys had been saying, ‘if you need to have a pump-up speak or need to be pressured to have enjoyable in this sort of atmosphere, this sort of climate, you don’t have to be out right here and we don’t need you out right here.’

“I believe everybody felt the identical method, in order that type of chemistry and that vitality carried all through the entire recreation.”

It was a dominant effort by this Clemson protection, which held Georgia Tech to 198 dashing yards — 175 fewer than the 373 yards per recreation the Yellow Jackets normally run for. It pressured a season-high eight three-and-out drives and allowed 10 or extra yards on simply six of the 56 performs it was on the sphere for. 

One other masterful gameplan from defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who predictably is not one for the on-field antics, however picked his battles Saturday evening.

“(The sport) was mentally torture to me, however it was good for these guys. That they had numerous enjoyable. They performed excellent,” he stated. “I’m not a giant dance-between-plays type of man, I’m not an actual fan of that. However the best way that they had been taking part in, they will do no matter they need. It’s all the time enjoyable to see them smiling.”

And so, after two weeks of sufficient Playoff hypothesis and nationwide criticism to make this recreation now not appear to be a recreation, the Tigers acquired again to being themselves. They danced, they smiled, they clowned one another throughout postgame interviews. 

Venables stated his protection may do what it needed; they simply needed to have enjoyable.

“For me, personally, it took me again to once I was a bit of child taking part in within the yard,” Wilkins stated. “Simply taking part in within the rain, your mother instructed you to return inside and also you had been like, ‘no, 10 extra minutes!’ Like a next-score-wins type of factor, simply having fun with it.”