CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins says the 14th-ranked Tigers won't let recent success over Virginia Tech erode the team's focus after a week off.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) return to work after last week's open date. They start the second half of the season against what had been one of their difficult opponents in the Hokies, who had won five straight in the series before 2011. But last season, Clemson had a pair of dominating victories over Virginia Tech, including a 38-10 win in the ACC championship game.
"If you're playing Division I football, revenge is a big thing you always think about," Hopkins said Monday.
That certainly fueled the Tigers in their last game, a 47-31 victory over the Yellow Jackets on Oct. 6, Hopkins said.
"Georgia Tech ended our 8-0 season" in 2011, he said. "And coming into this game, a lot of guys knew we had to have our revenge. Virginia Tech, we messed up their chance to win the ACC championship, so they're going to have a chip on their shoulder coming in."
Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1) also comes in with a bit of momentum, the preseason Coastal Division favorites rallying from 20-0 down against Duke for a 41-20 victory last week.
"We know we're going to get their very best," Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said.
That's why Morris said the team went through a hard, productive week of practice sessions. The focus was self-analyzation: Building on what the team had done right the first half and improving on weaker areas.
Morris' offense has looked even more explosive in his second season at Clemson than it did in 2011, when the Tigers set school records for yards gained and points scored. The Tigers are averaging more than 525 yards and 41 points this season, surpassing their averages from a year ago.
Morris said it was important week to assess the team moving forward. He recalled it was the team's final six games — Clemson was 2-4 down the stretch after its undefeated start — when things slipped away.
"You've got to go back and look at the tires," he said.
Coaches used the off week to refocus the team on this year's stretch run, which starts with the Hokies.