A Twitter post Saturday by Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller seemed to bother Clemson safety Jayron Kearse.
His response Monday might be considered imprudent by coaches trying to insulate players from the vortex created by fans and media, from wandering toward the music when the ESPN circus rolls into town for Saturday’s game between undefeated nationally ranked teams.
“Our job this week is to drown out the noise,” said Tony Elliott, first-year co-offensive coordinator. “So we have to do a really good job as coaches that we’re not pressing.
“Yes, it’s a tough task, but I don’t think it’s impossible.”
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Though Clemson players agreed to refrain from social media posts this season, they haven’t quit reading, and Fuller caught Kearse’s attention after Notre Dame’s win over Massachusetts. “Clemson … promise it’s gonna be #savage,” was his Tweet adorned by five Emojis, purple devil heads known as imps.
“I actually favored that tweet,” Kearse said. “We’ll see when we get out there on Saturday. After the kickoff, we’ll see if he still has that same mindset.”
Kearse seemed prepared to toe the company line, parroting Coach Dabo Swinney, who a day earlier said preparation for Notre Dame was no different than for Clemson’s first three opponents.
“We’re focusing on Clemson,” Kearse said. While answering a question about preparing for quarterback DeShone Kizer rather than injured Malik Zaire, he meandered.
“You know, they’re talking a lot through the media. I’ll just say I hope the ref lets us play football,” he said. “Just know this. It is going to be a chippy game. I'm definitely going to be chippy, so they can expect that from me. They can expect some trash talking. They can expect all that. I’m ready to go up against Will Fuller. I’m ready to catch him and just give those guys what I’ve got.
“Obviously they don’t know what we do down here in Death Valley, so I’m looking forward to this, looking forward to meeting the running back in a hole, catching Will Fuller on a post. Whatever it takes, man, I’m just ready for it.”
Kearse was asked if he had seen the Showtime TV series: “A Season of Notre Dame Football.”
“Nah, I’m not interested in Notre Dame at all,” he said, though he admitted considering the Irish during the recruiting process. A Clemson TV show didn’t interest him either. “We go out there and win the national championship I could care less (about) a TV show. They can focus on the TV show. We’re going to focus on winning.”
Kearse seemed fully respectful of Fuller and his 22 catches through four games for 454 yards and six touchdowns.
“He’s a great deep threat. He can get behind anybody,” Kearse said. “He’s not going to kill you with his routes, but if he gets behind you he’s going to go make a play.”
While Elliott would prefer the team to go about business as usual, he understands that, “there’ll be a lot more atmosphere and things going on externally that you’ve got to deal with.
“Just trying to get them to understand you don’t do anything different in preparation,” he said. “You don’t spend too much time worrying about the things you can’t control.
“It’s going to come down to can you maintain your discipline at a high level when there’s a lot more atmosphere involved.”
Not much more can be said. Can it?
“If you’re not ready for this game I don’t know why you’re playing college football. I don’t know why you came to Clemson,” Kearse said. “If you’re not pumped up for this one, I don’t know what to tell you.”
TIGERS vs. IRISH
Who: No. 12 Clemson (3-0) vs. No. 6 Notre Dame (3-0)
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Line: Pick ’em