Q&A with J.J. Howard

"I just remember the sick feeling after we lost," J.J. Howard said about Clemson's last trip up to College Park. "I saw a couple of guys getting hit by oranges. It made me mad at the time, but now that I look back on it, it's kind of funny (laughing)."

A lot has been said this week about Clemson's last trip to Maryland. What do you remember about playing up in College Park two years ago?
Howard: I just remember the sick feeling after we lost. I saw a couple of guys getting hit by oranges. It made me mad at the time, but now that I look back on it, it's kind of funny (laughing). You know, that's just college football. I love it. I like to see that.

One of the Maryland players last year said that they didn't just come into Death Valley expecting to win, they came in to embarrass you guys. Does that help motivate you and this team even more so this week after hearing something like that?
Howard: I take every game about the same way. I'm always motivated. That guy did what they said they were going to do. So now it's payback time as far as I'm concerned.

What it is about this team offensively that seems to give you guys some problems?
Howard: They run a lot of different formations. Most teams only run 4 a game, and this one runs 8 to 10 a game. It's really just been a situation where we have one man out of place and it leads to a big run and a score. Their defense has been really good too. But one thing about this year is that our offense is playing at a high level, so that's going to help.

The fact that the offense is starting to really play well and put points on the board, does that just make your job easier?
Howard: A lot easier. You can just go out there and play, have fun, fly around, and blitz more. We have a lot of confidence in Charlie and the rest of the offense.

You guys really came out and dominated Georgia Tech two weeks ago, did that surprise you at all?
Howard: Not really. We've known we've had a good defense since camp. We've given up points and yardage at times, but for the most part we've been consistent. Like I said before, with the offense putting up points like that, it just makes our job easier.

How important are the next three games? Will these three contests determine the fate of this team this season?
Howard: Oh yes. This is probably the most crucial stretch of the season for us, there's no doubt. We have to get Maryland first and then just take those next two against Virginia and N.C. State after that.

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