Experience matters

CLEMSON - Junior defensive end Corey Crawford played a significant number of snaps in each of Clemson's last two bowl games.

As a freshman in 2011, Crawford played 32 snaps against West Virginia. As a sophomore in 2011, he started and played 38 snaps against LSU. While the games ended with two very different results for Clemson, Crawford learned a lot with each experience.

The following is an edited transcript of that interview with Crawford, which was part of the final media availability in Clemson before team's trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

You've won a lot of big games since the last Orange Bowl. Do you think it's fair you guys still have a bad reputation?
Crawford: Of course we don't think it's fair as athletes. But fans are going to be fans. You're going to have your true fans. You're going to have fans that are just there when you're winning. You can't really get bothered by what everybody else thinks. You've just got to keep playing.

Can you really tell the difference in energy on campus after a team wins and looses?
Crawford: Yes. This year, after the South Carolina game, it was like -- it wasn't good at all. But we have some good people on our campus. Some people were encouraging us, telling us we can do this and that, they'll still support us. Yeah, you can tell the difference after winning and losing.

How do you get the young guys to look at this like a business trip?
Crawford: Like we've been doing all year when we go to the hotel, even in Anderson, we just tell the young guys, to stay focused. It's OK to have a little, small conversation, but just think more about your assignment for the game and things of that nature, just play ball.

Do you think it was a little much last time y'all were down there [the pomp and circumstance]? Was it a little overwhelming for such a young team?
Crawford: For me, I don't know about anybody else, but for me, that was big. I had never seen anything like that before, coming out of high school. I was overwhelmed by that. I'm pretty sure a lot of people were distracted by that. We [thought] were big time, we'd made it to the top, not really focused on the game. So, I feel like, this year, we've been down there. We know what's going to happen, so we're just going to keep playing.

Having gone through that and last year's bowl, which was a BCS-caliber of opponent, and the way Chick-fil-A does their bowl, what's the difference between your two bowl experiences?
Crawford: We're just smarter about different situations that we get into. When we have our free-time off, we don't do any of the crazy stuff that hurt us in the game. I feel like we're a wiser, a more focused group -- that's what I was looking for: We're a more focused group.

The turn-around in the last two years with the defense, is it as simple as coach Venables coming in and changing attitudes? Or did you all combine to change attitudes and get better results for the defense?
Crawford: That's something, us as a defense, we strived to do. Switching from coach Steele to coach Venables, we just tried to look at things differently than what we had been doing. I feel like coach Venables is doing a good job coming in and changing the attitude of this defense. His staff, coach Hobby, coach Brooks and all those guys, they're doing a great job with us, getting us prepared for the games, giving us the different attitude.

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