Missing in action

CLEMSON - In just one week, Kavell Conner will go from playing zero snaps against Middle Tennessee to being relied upon heavily to help slow down Georgia Tech's triple option. Talk about a 180.

Second among active ACC players in career tackles (202), he led Clemson last year with 125. One of 35 players named to the Butkus Award watch list, he wasn't in for a single snap on Saturday as Middle Tennessee continuously lined up with four and five wide receivers.

"That was in the game plan," Conner said. "It was the coaches' decision and it ended up working out. I'm happy we got the win."

The defense gave up one touchdown and yielded 299 yards of offense on 81 plays. But the Tigers had the most important stat of the night: a favorable 37-14 score.

There was no reason for Conner to hang his head, especially since the Tigers won.

Still, after playing only on special teams, he admitted Saturday night's experience was humbling.

"We still came out with a win and I'm excited about that," Conner said.

Thursday's game will see him back anchoring the defense from the WILL linebacker spot opposite of Brandon Maye, who won't survive for a second straight week being the only linebacker on the field.

"They're going to line up and try to pound it on us," Conner said. "We're definitely going to get the linebackers in the game a lot this week."

He knows there is going to be a great uptick in action coming his way this week. In last year's Georgia Tech game, he had a team-high 12 tackles. Thursday night will be much of the same as it was last year and Conner knows exactly what to expect.

"They're going to come straight at you," he said. "There's not too much misdirection or anything like that. They don't disguise what they're doing. They're going to line up and come right at you."

Staying disciplined with assignments against the option will be the biggest key. When those responsibilities break down, Conner said, that's when Georgia Tech breaks the big play.

Conner said the responsibilities from last year's game probably won't change much. Depending on the play, his responsibilities will be primarily focused on the quarterback and pitch.

There's also some familiarity in facing the option from his high school days at Manchester in Virginia. Though the level of play is higher, it's not that much different.

"A lot of players have faced it before and are familiar with the scheme," Conner said. "It shouldn't be too much of a surprise."

Clemson fans shouldn't be too surprised if Conner notches another double-digit tackle performance against Georgia Tech.

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