Thursday Clemson football notebook

CLEMSON - During the final weeks of the summer, a lot was made of the new NCAA rule on targeting.

But there hasn't been much controversy since play began in late August.

Five FBS players were ejected from week one games after committing the penalty. Three other ejections were reversed following replay review.

After a quiet run through week two, the rule came back into focus last Saturday during the Alabama-Texas A&M game when Crimson Tide safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was ejected for a hit on Aggie wide receiver Derel Walker.

Referees initially assessed a 15-yard penalty and an ejection on Clinton-Dix after he was called for targeting. Not only did the replay show it wasn't an offense worth of an ejection, it looked like a clean hit.

Spencer Shuey, Clemson's leading tackler, didn't think there was an issue with the Clinton-Dix delivered to Walker.

"I don't think that ever would have been called if all the attention hadn't been brought to the targeting in the offseason and all that," Shuey said. "They still had to enforce the penalty, but if this was last year, I don't think that ever would have been called."

Shuey's in favor of the rule, even though it might put defenders at a disadvantage.

"The rule is definitely doing a good job of keeping guys safe," he said. "Safety is one of the main concerns."

It forces him to be more cognizant of the situation.

"You definitely think about, maybe, the shot you take on a guy that misses a pass or something like that. You think twice about it when you don't have to take that shot," Shuey said. "I've always tried not to hit guys in the head just for that reason."

The bounce back game

After all of the good things Dabo Swinney, Chad Morrsi and Jeff Scott said about Martavis Bryant, his performance in the 2013 season opener didn't match the billing.

Bryant had no problem shaking it off.

"It wasn't frustrating. There's a time and a place for everything. I was catching all of the balls. He was just doing a good job of knocking them out every time I caught them," Bryant said. "It's something I can control, but it's nothing I need to worry about."

After dropping several passes against Georgia, Bryant was targeted early in often a week later against S.C. State, finishing with four catches for 87 yards.

"They got me started early," he said. "That was good. I've just got to stay consistent, be consistent. I'm going to be just fine."

An under-rated environment

Grady Jarrett and Martavis Bryant each played five snaps during Clemson's last trip to Carter-Finley Stadium. Corey Crawford played 21.

They were all freshmen then. Now, of course, they're juniors.

Each knows exactly what they'll be walking into tonight.

"It's going to be hostile…they've got good fans, a good fan base. They're going to be ready, but we're also going to be ready, too," Bryant said.

Crawford had a similar recollection.

"It's a hostile environment," he said, "Especially when they've got big momentum going into the game. They're a tough team when they're on the high-end of the game. It was a bad experience the last time I went.

"Hopefully, this year, we'll be able to change that."

The Tigers will enter Carter-Finley with a big, old target on their back. That will be the case everywhere as long as they're an undefeated team inside the top-five.

"We're going to be a big game on everybody's schedule with the type of attention that we're getting this year," Jarrett said. "We've just got to handle what we can control and just be prepared for anything to come at us." Top Stories