No heroes needed Thursday night

CLEMSON - Brandon Maye might have been the hero on defense against Middle Tennessee last week after registering seven hits, seven assists, a tackle for loss and an interception.

No heroes will be necessary on defense Thursday night at Georgia Tech.

"You've got to play your position…when you try to be a hero (Jonathan Dwyer) and (Josh Nesbitt) will take it the distance," Maye said.

From one extreme one week to another extreme the next, Clemson's ‘week' to prepare for Georgia Tech's option offense is actually four days. Fortunately for the Tiger defense there has been an entire spring and summer for coaches to plan.

The catch-phrase since Sunday morning: assignment football. There are three assignments to consider: the dive, quarterback and pitch. It's about accountability and following through with those assignments this week.

Kavell Conner's assignment on Saturday was next to nothing as the Clemson defense spent most of the night matching up with four and five Middle Tennessee wide receivers. After zero snaps, he called it a humbling experience.

But he'll see plenty on Thursday.

"They're going to line up and try to pound it on us. The linebackers are going to get to play a lot this week," Conner said.

Maye played 71 of the 82 Middle Tennessee snaps manning the middle as the only linebacker with spells from Jeremy Campbell and Kevin Alexander.

Being the only linebacker got to be a little lonely at times.

"It was a little vulnerable out there. You've got the guard or the tackle blocking down on you and you have to take on that block and basically let the safety come over top and make that play," Maye said.

Coming in to make those plays, DeAndre McDaniel said a lot of the film they're watching is from last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl that saw LSU beat Georgia Tech 38-3.

"They had one safety, he was running the alley a lot," he said. "He had a lot to do, running at every angle. I guess he was the quarterback and pitch player. That's what I've been seeing when I've been watching the film.

"I think we're running a lot of stuff like they ran in the Chick-fil-A Bowl."

As long as everyone does their job, McDaniel said, Thursday night should end up being a good game for Clemson. There's also some room for comfort talking about his defensive peers.

"If somebody does mess up, we've got plenty up people flying to the ball from the back-side," he said. "That's going to be an extra three or four yards that they get. That's still close to a first down and that's not what we're trying to give them."


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