Q&A with J.J. Howard

"I don't look at any game and think of it as a game to get the kinks out. You know, this is college football," said Clemson defensive end J.J. Howard. "There's a lot of upsets going on and anybody can beat anybody on any given day."

Clemson defensive end J.J. Howard had one of the most electrifying plays of the young season last week when he rumbled into the endzone from 17-yards out after recovering a fumble.

We sat down with the Hanahan native to get his thoughts on that play, and the Tigers' upcoming opponent in the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, in this Q&A session.

J.J, walk me through that play last night with the big fumble recovery that you returned for a touchdown.
Howard: Oh man...(laughing). I haven't seen a ball just sitting out there on the ground since high school. I saw Donnell Washington fall over the ball, and I thought he covered it up, but then I saw the ball sitting right there and I picked it up. As soon as I picked it up, I was like, 'Man I'm about to score a touchdown.' Once I started running I knew I was going to score. I knew nobody was going to catch me. I only had 17-yards to go, that was an easy touchdown right there.

When is the last time you actually scored a touchdown? Was it back in high school?
Howard: (laughing) I scored my last year in J.V. football at tight end, and then I scored my last year in high school on a fumble recovery, and now I guess I'll score during my last year in college too.

Can you talk to me a little bit about Middle Tennessee State?
Howard: From what I've seen, they are really passing oriented. They've got a lot of athletes on their team and they have a really big offensive line. But most of the teams we play from here on out are like that, so that really won't be a factor on Saturday. We just want to go out and have a good game on the defensive line and get a lot of pressure on the quarterback.

It looks like the defense has played pretty well during the first half of the first two games, but then the second half, you guys have kind of let up a little. Any comments on that?
Howard: I think we let up against Georgia in the fourth quarter more than we did against Furman last week. You know, Furman runs that kind of misdirection offense that is really hard to defend. It's hard to defend a team like that with the scheme that they run. We also had a couple of stupid penalties that led to points too. But we'll get that straightened out this week.

A lot of people point to this game and suggest that this is the last opportunity you guys will have to 'get the kinks out' this week before the start of conference play. What are your thoughts on that statement?
Howard: This game is important also. I don't look at any game and think of it as a game to get the kinks out. You know, this is college football. There's a lot of upsets going on and anybody can beat anybody on any given day. We know that, and that helps us prepare week in and week out.

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