By Philip Sikes // Athletic Communications
Note: Each week, we bring you two storylines from Tuesday’s media interview session from the fourth floor of the WestZone.
On Saturday, The Tigers return three players that sat out the Georgia game due to suspension. David Beasley, Corey Crawford and Garry Peters have all played significant roles in past seasons and their respective returns give the staff a greater comfort level moving forward.
Beasley has started 19 games at offensive guard over the past two seasons, logging nearly 1,200 snaps in the same time frame. Over 140 of the snaps came in bowl wins over top-10 programs LSU and Ohio State. Starting center Ryan Norton said getting Beasley back in the lineup is an immediate boost.
“He’s a veteran guy that’s been in the battles before,” Norton said. “He knows how to react to everything. His experience level will really help us out.”
On the other side of the ball, Crawford is a two-year starter at defensive end on the side opposite Vic Beasley. He gives the Tigers not only an outstanding pass-rusher on the edge, but at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, an imposing presence against the run as well. Peters has appeared in 33 career games at cornerback and gives the Tigers another veteran option in the secondary.
“Having those guys back makes us that much better,” said linebacker Tony Steward. “Having their experience out on the field helps set different tempos for the game, and makes us a more complete team.”
In typical fashion, much of Tuesday was spent re-hashing the previous game. The Tigers were tied with No. 12 Georgia at halftime and down just 24-21 in the fourth quarter on the road, but Georgia posted three touchdowns late to provide a wide final margin.
Mistakes were a common topic of discussion both Monday and Tuesday. A day after offensive coordinator Chad Morris lamented over 30 missed assignments, Brent Venables said the Tiger defense missed at least 13 tackles in the final 16 minutes that could have prevented such a lopsided final score.
“We didn’t have enough of a sense of desperation with the game on the line,” Venables said. “But I have no reservations whatsoever about our guys. I know we have good leadership. We can be a good defense, but we have to be accountable for the mistakes we made Saturday at Georgia.”
Despite the disappointing outcome, Dabo Swinney cited positives from the game such as the first-half execution by both quarterbacks, the team’s freshmen not being in awe of the raucous environment at Sanford Stadium, and the play of starters Robert Smith and Steward on defense.
He also talked about the bizarre pregame injury to starting tight end Sam Cooper.
“We came out of the game pretty healthy, except for what happened to Sam,” he said. “He thought he’d been hit by a football, and he ended up breaking his fibula. But the medical staff is very encouraged by his prognosis, so hopefully he’ll get back out there in a few weeks.”
The Tigers have a bye after the SC State game before traveling to Tallahassee, Fla., for the Sept. 20 matchup with the defending national champions, Florida State.