Q&A with Greg Walker

If you haven't heard what starting right tackle Greg Walker has to say about Clemson football, then you are missing out on one of the most insightful interviews given by a Tiger player in the last several years. Greg breaks down the 2003 season in this extensive Q&A done late Sunday afternoon with CUTigers.com.

You look at some of the younger linemen on this team, Roman Fry, Dustin Fry, and Nathan Bennett, when you look at those guys now, do you see more talent here now then you first arrived on campus? Do those guys have more potential in your estimation?
Walker: I wouldn't say more potential. They'll have more opportunities to get better. I believe on the other side of the ball, the defensive guys against we play against...those guys are bigger, stronger, and faster, and more intelligent. That's going to give them more of a chance to grow up a little faster.

Are you thinking that if you have a good year that the NFL could definitely be in your future?
Walker: Well, honestly, I don't too much focus on myself. I want the team to do well. When we do well, when we get 10-0, 11-0, that will catapult us all to where we want to go. When you have a great season as a team, they have no choice but to say we were a part of team and that makes our stock rise. I want Clemson to do well...that's what I want on my resume. When you are at a business, and your business does well then you take pride in that. Say I work for Lucent Technologies- if they do well, that increases my stock. That means I could so somewhere else and say that I had a part in their success. I'm not trying to up my stats, or get as many intimidation blocks, or knockdown blocks as I can. I don't want to hurt the team- it's team first. We have to have unity. We have do things as a unit, not as individuals.

How do you feel when people say that teams like Maryland, N.C. State, and Virginia have all passed Clemson by?
Walker: I think they have tied us up, not passed us. I think they've upped the anti so to speak. As a whole, the ACC is a lot cockier then it's ever been. Everybody believes in themselves. Everyone is more confident. Its a dog eat dog world out there right now. It's like; one day a Chi-wawa can beat a rottweiler. It can happen- I'm serious. I believe that's the mentality of the ACC right now. Anybody can be beat.

Do you think that Clemson is better than people give it credit for right now?
Walker: Of course, they don't see the guys out there dripping sweat and working hard. Sometimes, you've got guys out there working so hard that they are out there crying and throwing up. Those guys don't see the dedication that we are putting in. They don't see the intensity in the eyes of the players around me.

Surely, there are guys at Maryland, N.C. State, and Virginia that are out there working hard, throwing up, and doing the same things as you guys. What makes you really think that you guys are on an even plane with those teams right now?
Walker: I believe that the talent level is there for everybody in the ACC. I believe that there is no one team out there with talent above everybody else. Sure, Florida State, has talent, Clemson has talent, N.C. State has talent, but probably what is separating those teams now is the success that those teams have had last season. I really believe we are going to get that success this year. No one team is just dominant, and no one team is just terrible.

Has unity been a problem on this team?
Walker: In the past- yes it has. I'm not going to lie about it. One clique here, another clique there. But now, everybody is on board. We have unity here on this team amongst everyone. We all want to get to the same place.

It seems like this team has truly lacked a defining victory the last couple of years. This year, you open with Georgia, talk about how a win over a top 10 team would build the confidence level of this team.
Walker: It would definitely increase our confidence about 10-fold. Beating a top 10 team- you can roll on that intimidation factor for a few more games. You want to have that confidence that we beat Georgia. At the same time, we've got 11 more games. We know that a big win against Georgia would be awesome. I know that would catapult us through the rest of the season. I'm not saying that we would dwell on a win over Georgia all season- but it would just give us a lot of confidence against the other teams we face later on.

Do you feel like that 3-point loss in Athens last year set the tone for the team last season?
Walker: Most definitely. It set the tone for both of our seasons. You know, Georgia pulled out a lot of games last season in the 4th quarter. The same thing happened with us, except on the flipside. We would play well for 2 or 3 quarters, then after a few mental mistakes late in the game, and we would lose it. You look at Virginia and Florida State last year. The first half was awesome, then we come out in the second half, and it was like were dead. We need to dominate the whole game this year and show people that there is no doubt that we are the better team.

Do you think there a mental roadblock on this team when you guys get on national television?
Walker: I think we have had one before, but we definitely have to overcome it. People are going to have to overcome it before the season. I, myself, I don't see any difference in playing on ESPN, ABC, CBS, Jefferson-Pilot, or anybody else. The fact is, when I get on the field, I've got my pads on and I'm ready to go. It has nothing to do with who is watching. It definitely is a mental thing, but it's easy to surpass. You have to focus.

Coach Bowden has said that he's going to be calling a lot of the plays this year, what kind of difference does that make for you?
Walker: I really couldn't tell you because he's the head coach, it's no different than last year. A coach gives you the playbook and he tells you what to run during the game. The bottom line is that it comes down to whether or not the players execute the plays. I know he wants the responsibility of calling plays. I mean, who wouldn't want the responsibility when the productivity of your offense depends on your paycheck. I would want it too if I was him. You know, his father is a living legend. I believe that every man should strive to be more than his father, and that's the position he's in right now. Real winners and real champions always want the ball in their hand when the game is on the line. That's Coach Bowden. I told my running backs, if it comes down to it, it's 4th and one, find #78. Find me, I'll get you that yard. A lot of guys on this team are like that this year.

With this being your last year, how important is it for you to be at the top of your game, and finish strong?
Walker: It's very important. It's on my top 3 list- it's one of the most important things to me in my life right now. If we have a good season, not only will the pressure be taken off of Coach Bowden, and my teammates...we can have more pride, more confidence, and more of a swagger about us. It would really set the tone. If we have a good season I can always look back and say my senior class brought something back to Death Valley. That's definitely a notch on the belt.

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