The Time is Now

You could sense the relief out of quarterback Willie Simmons this week after playing a big part in the Tigers' come from behind win over Wake Forest. "I needed this game personally to help ease some of the chaos that was going on last week," said Simmons. "And now we've been in these big game situations enough times to come away with a win Thursday night."

Willie Simmons Profile

Willie Simmons may not have had the best game of his career last Saturday against the Demon Deacons, but he did just enough to settle himself, and hopefully the team, back down to earth.

Simmons completed 21-of-33 passes for 205 yards in the win, but more importantly he proved that he's still the man in control of the Tigers' high octane offense. Here's what Simmons had to say about the quarterback situation, and this Thursday night's game against 9th ranked N.C. State in the following interview:

Do you feel like this past week that you were able to get back on track both mentally and physically?
Simmons: Yes, for me and the whole team, this game was huge for everyone. I needed this game personally to help ease some of the chaos that was going on last week. I think we all needed this game to get back on track. We needed to get our confidence back headed into this big game this week.

Chaos? In what sense?
Simmons: Just all the talk about who the starter is going to be and who is going to play- stuff that really didn't concern us as a team. You don't want guys getting too caught up in reading stuff like that.

Do you go in with the mindset that this is, in a sense, you versus Philip Rivers?
Simmons: He's a great quarterback. He really runs that team, he motivates everybody on offense, defense, and special teams. You see him running up and down the sidelines getting all the guys pumped up which is a lot of the same things I try to do with our team. It's not a battle between Rivers and me though, we are both just trying to win and play well and we want to do well. We talked about that this summer up in North Carolina. We are both competitors and it will be great to play against him.

They do a good job on defense going after the quarterback. Do you see yourself sprinting out more this week?
Simmons: I'm not sure, just looking at them on film, all I know is that they play hard. They try to do a lot of things up front to try and disrupt you. If we decide to stay in the pocket, our line needs to know the main stunts they are going to try to do, but we don't want to change our whole game plan as far as strictly sprinting out or things like. We think we can attack them in similar ways as to what we did against Florida State because they are very similar scheme wise.

Coach Bowden talked about learning to win the big game, do you guys know what it takes to win a big game?
Simmons: You can't be a top notch team until you have all the little things come together. We played well enough on offense and defense against both Florida State and Georgia, but special teams just let us down. We just have to learn to play a complete game as a team in all three phases of the game. If we do that I think we'll get over the hump and beat a top 25 team.

Does the fact that you've played a tougher schedule than N.C. State help you Thursday?
Simmons: We've played some tough ball games. We've played two top ten teams and we've also played some close games down to the wire. We feel like we are prepared to play a top team for 60 minutes. I can't speak for them, I don't know if they've gone down to the wire. I know they played Duke pretty close. The game Thursday will tell the tale. We will find out whether we are better prepared to play a "big" game or not.

What do you think is different about this game compared to when you played Florida State or Georgia?
Simmons: Like coach said, you rarely get a chance to play 3 big time games on national television. We are 0-2 and we are all real motivated to get one. This is another big chance for us to show the nation that Clemson is a good football team. We feel like we need to go out and have a good showing against a quality opponent.

Does the coaching staff use the fact that they haven't really played a tough schedule to give you some extra confidence headed into Thursday night?
Simmons: Of course we know that they are undefeated, but we feel like we are the best 4-3 in the country. We lost against two tough teams, and then we feel like we gave one away at Virginia. We feel we've been in this situation enough times to come away with a win Thursday night. Top Stories