Dean One of the Best

Clemson kicker Jad Dean is proving to be one of the best in the country.

Jad you've had a phenomenal start to your junior year. Just talk about stepping up and developing into one of the best kickers in the country right now.
Dean: I'm just glad I've gotten a chance to make some field goals. Obviously, the Texas A&M game was an unbelievable game. My senior year in high school, I barely even kicked six field goals, and I had it in one game right there. It was just an unbelievable start to the season. I've just got to give all the glory and honor to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for blessing me with the ability to do something that I love everyday.

It's been a big year, like you said talking about Texas A&M … but also a lot of pressure kicks and overtime kicks against Miami, Boston College…Wake Forest – a couple of big kicks there, long kicks.
Dean: I think physically there's not much difference in me from this year and last year, but mentally, I've matured so much. Going through the big games…Like last year I don't think I had any kicks late in the game that we had to make. That's probably a good thing because last year I wasn't as mentally ready as I am this year. Like I said, physical-wise, there's not that much difference; just mental-wise, there's a huge difference. For me, probably the biggest thing was after I missed that 51-yarder against Miami, coming back and hitting two kicks late in the game that we had to have. It was just a huge boost for me because last year I probably would have gone in the tank like I did last year at Miami – made the first one and then missed one, and it was just kind of all downhill from there. That was huge for my confidence-wise, to know that I could come back from a miss and the team can count on me like that.

The morale of the team this week, coming off of an off-week, three tough losses. How do you try to turn things around?
Dean: Obviously, it's tough because of how we've lost the last couple of games. We've been in every game. We've played with Miami, who's one of the top teams around, and who has some of the top talent in the country. Boston College – great team – saw them against Virginia this past weekend. And Wake Forest is a good team; they were in there with Florida State until the very end, a few bad plays and the game was over. We've felt we can play with anybody. Like Coach Bowden says, we just want to be in it at the end of the game and have a chance to win. And we've been in every game; we've had a chance to win. The last play – a couple of them went our way, a couple of them haven't. But the tides will start turning soon.

You guys have turned things around in years past, in starting off slow and then really getting things going – 2003, 2004. Do you get the sense that you still have that same capability this year?
Dean: I think so. This is my third season. The first two years we started off slow, and then we really kicked in the last little bit, so I'm kind of expecting that to get started here soon. You know maybe…I don't know what it is, but maybe we're just a second-half team. Coach Bowden says we're physically just as strong as anybody, if not stronger, and better conditioned, so I think the second half of the season is definitely ours.

Clemson's struggled in those contests in Thursday night games. Is there any reason why? Is it just getting on the national stage?
Dean: I don't know. This year we've had two nationally televised games. We won one of them and took Miami into three overtimes. So hopefully that national TV bug will…We've got that out of the way, hopefully.

Having a Thursday game as far as preparation goes – does that change a lot for the team during the week?
Dean: It would if we had a Saturday game. Since we had an off week, it really doesn't change too much. We had three practices…Actually we'll get more preparation for this game than in usual weeks. We had three practices last week, three practices this week, so that's six practices as opposed to the usual four. If we didn't have an off week, it would definitely change it up a lot.

So the off-week makes a pretty big difference, especially for a Thursday night game?
Dean: The off week made…It's awesome for a Thursday night game.

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