Clemson will play its first road game of the season on Saturday, and it will be at one of the toughest venues in the ACC – Louisville’s Papa John’s Stadium.
The venue seats 55,000 fans, more than 25,000 less than Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, but Tigers players who have played there before are expecting a tough crowd in the ACC opener.
“The environment at Louisville, it’s probably one of the loudest stadiums we’ll play at this year. It’s definitely a different environment… They’re loud,” Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt said. “That’ll play a little bit of a factor. The atmosphere up there, it’s just different. The fans are loud. They come to support their team. They’re very passionate about their team.”
Making matters even more difficult for Clemson is that the Tigers have so many new starters on offense.
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Clemson lost its starting center, quarterback, running back and top two wide receivers off last year’s team.
Their replacements, Justin Falcinelli, Kelly Bryant, C.J. Fuller, Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud, got a taste of starting in a prime time game last week against Auburn.
Now they will get an opportunity to start in a prime time game on the road with College GameDay in town.
“Every week it’s like a new challenge with this new offense,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “This week, now we’re on the road. It’s going to be a loud environment, and so we’ve got to get some of that communication stuff cleaned up, and I’m confident we will.”
The Tigers spent time in practice this week preparing for the noise they will face on Saturday and getting used to nonverbal communication.
“We’ll pump plenty of noise in here this week. I think the biggest thing for our guys is just being sure that we’re on the same page and looking back and getting the signals, being able to line up, do all those types of things so it doesn’t cost us a timeout,” Scott said.
While Bryant has yet to start a road game, he did watch Deshaun Watson play in plenty of big games away from home over the previous two seasons.
Bryant plans to carry over some of what he learned into Saturday.
“Just staying poised. Going into a hostile environment like Louisville, the atmosphere is going to be really crazy and electric,” Bryant said. “Just be Kelly B. Try not to get into all of that. That’s when the pressure comes in and you try to do too much.”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Papa John’s Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
Radio: 93.1 FM