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Robert Carswell’s Answers To Ask The Tigers

Aug. 6, 2000

Below are Robert Carswell’s answers to Ask The Tigers. Carswell is a senior free safety on the Clemson football team. thanks the fans who submitted questions and Robert for taking the time to answer them.

Walter Bell H., Vienna, Va.1. Robert who is the toughest Tiger receiver you have to cover in practice?Robert Carswell’s Answer Rod Gardner

2. Who has been the toughest receiver you have ever covered?Robert Carswell’s Answer Probably Peter Warrick and Torry Holt who plays for the Rams now.

Brandon Farris, Charlotte, N.C. First of all I would like to congratulate you on all of your accomplishments and preseason honors!!! I have a few questions:1. Why did you pick CU over ND…. what other schools were you considering? Robert Carswell’s Answer Because it was close to home. Clemson seemed more family oriented than Notre Dame. Clemson was more personable where Notre Dame seemed more like a business. My parents could still come see me play and that was real important to me because I am real family oriented. Nebraska, Florida State and Tennessee were the other schools I was considering.

2. Since you see them every day in practice, who are the up and coming stars on the offense & defense for the Tigers? Robert Carswell’s Answer On the offense I would pick Bernard Rambert and Kevin Youngblood. For the defense I would have to say Eric Meekins, Kevin Johnson.

3. Who are the five fastest players on the team?Robert Carswell’s Answer Rod Gardner, Alex Ardley and Darrel Crutchfield.

4. Do you think Keith Adams should be classified as a lethal weapon now that he has added 20lbs.? Also, in practice when he and Witherspoon collide who goes backwards?Robert Carswell’s Answer Yes he should be classified as a lethal weapon and Witherspoon definitely goes backward.

Richard Wilson, Tai Po, N.T. Hong KongWhat is your assessment of the tight end position and the wide receivers this year at Clemson? Are they as quick as FSU?Robert Carswell’s Answer I think we are as quick as FSU, I think we are as talented as FSU, but it is a matter of going out there and doing it like FSU does it day in and day out. We have the talent just like they do, we have the coaching staff just like they do, we have the receivers. It is a matter of can our receivers go out there and mentally do it like FSU. Kip Tomlinson, Mauldin, S.C. I first would like to thank you for all of the wonderful memories that you have given Clemson fans all over. You are truly a special player, and very exciting! I was wondering what the players feel about this season? Are there high expectations in the locker room? Good luck this season!! Robert Carswell’s Answers There are very, very high expectations in the locker room. Actually everybody is looking forward to two-a-days. This is the first time in a while that I can remember a team that is looking forward to going into two-a-days and getting things started. We are kind of tired of reading what people say we can do and tired of hearing what people say we can do, it is time to go out there and actually hit the field and do what we can do. Everybody is looking forward to it and everybody is upbeat with more enthusiasm than there was even last year. William Kirwan, North Charleston, S.C.Do you feel that there is a lot of pressure for both you and the rest of the team this year, when you’re expected to go 9-0 going into Florida State this November, and how do you deal with the pressure?Robert Carswell’s Answer I think it is pressure, but it is good pressure. Anytime you have high expectations like that it means people are thinking positively about you. It just means you have to go out there and perform. You don’t worry about it, you just take it one game at a time. We are going to think about The Citadel first and let everything fall into place. We are just going to execute one play at a time and one game at a time and go from there. Casey Taylor, Charleston, S.C. Thanks for the great contributions to CU FB and good luck in the upcoming campaign. I was wondering, with Dextra gone you still have a great cover guy in Ardley, but Mance is still untested. Do you think you will have the freedom to come up and make as many tackles at the line, or will you have to drop back and help in coverage?Robert Carswell’s Answer I think I will because Mance, although he is untested in the game, has been tested plenty at practice. So he has pretty much seen a lot at practice thrown at him because with our wide-open offense he has to cover them. And he is covering probably one of the best receivers in the country in Rod Gardner. You have a bunch of young talent at receiver that he is having to cover. I am doing fine at practice just coming up and making plenty of tackles. I have plenty of confidence in Mance and Ardley. I think it will be the same as last year. Howard E. Lee, Greenville, N.C. It appears the trend now with the Clemson coaches and players is to stay at Clemson instead of going to another school (coaches) or leaving early (players). Rick Stockstill did not leave after last year and now Tommy Bowden came to Clemson to make this attitude change?Robert Carswell’s Answer I don’t think the attitude has changed. I think people are just assessing themselves better. Am I really prepared to go out into the real world, where I have to pay bills? Is my skill level that high where I am ready to jump into it? A lot of players want to come back and win. In recent years we have had some down years, but now you see you have a chance to go out there and compete for the ACC and National titles. A lot of players want to come back and do that. For me coming out of high school I didn’t have a chance to go play in a state title game. But you come in the locker room and hear all the guys talk about it. I want to have that chance to go out and dominate on the football field just like my teammates talked about doing in high school. Ben White, Lexington, S.C. Robert, my name is Ben White and I’m from Lexington. I am a devout Tiger football fan. This year I will try out for free safety/cornerback on my school football team because of your inspiration. Okay, here is my question: I want to know if Keith’s success has fired you up to try and best his record? By the way, congratulations on being an All-American last year and I hope you can do it again in your senior season. I hope to see you at the games. Have a great year, and I’ll see you at the Orange Bowl this year! GO TIGERS!!!!!!!Robert Carswell’s Answer Well I will put it this way. Anytime you have another player who is great, there is going to be competition out there. You want them to do well, but you want to go out there and compete with them. You are out there competing for tackles, competing to make plays. I believe that is what makes a defense great. You are together and there is no jealousy, but you are trying to go out there and be the best that you can be. He is trying to be the best that he can be. You are constantly going up and up as a team because you are constantly competing. He is not only trying to be the best linebacker and I am not only trying to be the best defensive back, but you are trying to be the best defensive player on the field. That is constantly making everybody’s game go up. You see it in Terry Jolly, Keith Adams, myself and a couple of others, safties and cornerbacks. We are fighting to be the best and that is how you compete and that is how you get better. Coach Herring is constantly stressing that. I will try to go and beat 186 tackles, you have to aim high. David Case, Easley, S.C. First off, thank you for a great season last year. Do you think Clemson has the stuff to get to Miami this year? Do you think you can lead the nation in interceptions this year? Thanks and good luck and health this year.Robert Carswell’s Answer We will be in Miami. I think I will get about nine or 10 this year. I should have had nine last year. I dropped a couple and on a couple I broke too slow. I can see myself getting about nine or 10 this year. Todd Holliday, Spartanburg, S.C. 1. Last season, what type of adjustments did you have to make when moving from the cornerback position to free safety? Robert Carswell’s Answer You have to be more patient at free safety because you have a lot of people depending on you. You have 10 guys depending on you to be the last line of defense. If you lose your head and come flying up there and they throw a pass over your head you know it is six points. If you are standing back there as a free safety and you turn around there is nobody behind but the end zone, so I say patience and learning to read my keys a lot better and a lot faster and reacting a lot faster.

2. Also, which young defensive back should the fans keep their eye on this year?Robert Carswell’s AnswerBrian Mance

Kevin, Hardy, Columbia, S.C. Despite having some excellent defensive backs in recent years (Antwuan Edwards, Dexter McCleon, Leomont Evans, Brian Dawkins, etc.) last season was the best in recent memory for the secondary in terms of turnovers and pass efficiency. What do you credit that to? More pressure up front? A different coaching philosophy? More confidence/experience? Thanks Robert, and have a great season!Robert Carswell’s Answer I say everything that you named. Another thing is Coach Hines and the way he comes in and really gets you prepared and really teaches his techniques to make sure you have it to the point where you can say, “ok I’ve got it.” The confidence level is there. We played together in that secondary for a while and everybody finally gelled. I knew where Dextra was going to be because we came in together. I know where Alex is going to be because we came in together. The coaches showed confidence in us by playing press-man. We responded by saying, “ok they are showing more confidence in us instead of us playing 10-yards off the receiver, they are letting us come up and press them.” I would just say the confidence and maturity level came up. Ryan Dennis, Pawleys Island, S.C.In your eyes, which newcomers do you think will be able to take some of the heat off the returning starters on all sides of the ball?Robert Carswell’s Answer I would say Derrick Brantley, Derrick Brantley has been up here since the fall, Ronny Delusme came up here early for summer school. Todd McClinton came in for summer school and I just heard a lot about Keith Kelly. To be honest I really haven’t assessed the freshman that much to be able to give a fair answer.