Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has been a solid performer during the first two games of the 2003 season. We sat down with Charlie in this one-on-one interview to get his latest thoughts on the Tigers headed into Saturday's game against Middle Tennessee State.
Do you feel like the mindset of this team is where you want it to be headed into this game?
Whitehurst: I definitely think so. We all feel like we've got something to prove and I think we're anxious to get out there and do it.
It seems like you guys have taken a couple of steps backwards in the second half of games, why is that?
Whitehurst: Well, I think it's a combination of things to be honest. We haven't really executed in the first half like we do in the second, and the bottom line is that we haven't scored points, and ultimately that's what matters the most. It's not motivation. I mean if you can't motivate yourself at this level, then you shouldn't be here, so that's not it. I think it all just boils down to the players executing and showing people what we can do.
One of the big plays last week was your 72-yard touchdown pass to Airese Currie. Walk me through that play if you don't mind.
Whitehurst: Yeah it was nice to finally get one. Airese is one of the fastest guys on the field, if not the fastest on the field. The basis of that play was letting him run past the cornerback and me throwing the ball as far as I can. That's about what the play was about. It's nice that everybody now knows we have that homerun capability.
Coach Bowden was talking about how Furman had their safeties play further back last week and how that opened up the intermediate passing game. Is that something you think you'll see against Middle Tennessee State this weekend?
Whitehurst: Yeah, I think so. What you see on tape is not necessarily what they are going to give you, but from what we've seen so far seems to indicate that, but you never know. Furman played a lot of two deep there at the end that wouldn't let us go deep, so we started hitting those underneath routes more. We'll just have to see what happens as the game progresses.
A lot of people are still talking about the running game here at Clemson. How much does a strong ground game really help a quarterback?
Whitehurst: Well having a good running game helps you out tremendously. If they can't stop the run with 7 guys and they have to roll an eighth in there, then I like my chances with a defense having only 3 guys in coverage. When you run the ball it takes a lot of pressure off of me and the receivers and the offensive line, because guys aren't teeing off on you on a pass rush. Hopefully we can just keep on improving in the running game and our offense will just be that much better because of it.
How important is it from a confidence standpoint, for this team to come out and simply play well on Saturday? Especially with your first conference game of the season in Atlanta the following week.
Whitehurst: It's real important. We need to build some more confidence. I think we did that some last week even though the score may not have been what we would have liked. A win is a win, and we need to step it up to another level before we get into conference play, and that starts this week against Middle Tennessee State.
Q&A with Charlie Whitehurst
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