"A lot of people don't know our names," DeShawn Williams said. "Eddie George came and he didn't know any of our names.
"Coach [Dan] Brooks told us to take into account and said we're going to be the no name defensive line, because nobody knows our name. It set us back. We've got to come back down from all this hype and come back to work."
That hype began to build soon after the calendar turned from 2012 to 2013.
The result of the Chick-fil-A Bowl helped, but the Clemson run defense went on quite a tear over the final month and a half of regular season.
After giving up 150 or more rushing yards in five of the first seven games, no opponent eclipsed that mark during the final six contests in 2012. The highest single-game total over the final half of the season was the 139-yard output by Maryland.
DeShawn Williams isn't bothered by the 'no name defensive line' tag.
Even though two of those three touchdowns were by LSU, Williams and his mates have drawn a lot of confidence from their showing in the bowl game.
"It proved to us what type of guys we have up front. That showed we have some guys that can get after it," Williams said. "We're not going to be shy of the SEC name. A lot of people have been throwing that around, ‘You're going against the SEC. You can't stop the run.' We showed that through the second half of that game we can stop the run."
Brooks told them exactly what they were up for against LSU.
"I told our guys. When we found who we were going to play [in the bowl], in my first meeting with them, ‘Somebody is going to get their nose bloodied, either you or them, because that's the way they play. I've played against them many times, playing in the SEC, coaching at Florida and at Tennessee. That's the way they play their game,'" Brooks said. "The good part is: they bought into it."
With what appears to be a nice foundation in place after that New Year's Eve performance, the plan around Clemson is to make sure the run defense has a better start in 2013 than it did in 2012.
"Now, we're just trying to finish where we left off with LSU. Even though this is different team than we had last year…it starts up front," Williams said.
We'll see how strong the foundation is when Georgia comes to town with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.