Aug. 14, 2000
Below are Rod Gardner’s answers to Ask The Tigers. Gardner is a senior wide receiver on the Clemson football team. ClemsonTigers.com thanks the fans who submitted questions and Rod for taking the time to answer them.
Vincent Stevens, Lexington, S.C. Congratulations on breaking a few records last season. Do you think you can top that? Do you think your chances are good for winning the Biletnikoff Award? Good luck this season and I’ll see you in Miami.
Rod Gardner’s Answer Appreciate it. This year I am basically trying to top all of my records and break even more. I want to have over 1,500 yards, over 100 catches and 15 touchdowns. So those are my goals for this season and I have to set them as high as I can. Coming into this season, I think I have a good chance of winning the Biletnikoff Award. I have been working hard all summer and all during the spring. So coming into this year my expectations are even higher. If I reach at least two of my goals, I have a good chance of making a run at that.
Kip Tomlinson, Maudin, S.C. Good luck this year, and I am sure you guys have the stuff to make it to Miami. My question is, in what areas will the offense be more improved this year as opposed to last year?
Rod Gardner’s Answer I think our passing efficiency will be better and our running program will be better. Coach Bowden wants to have at least one 1,000-yard rusher so that will be an asset to the offense.
Joseph Hezron, London, Ontario Rod, the quaterback situation looked uneven in the Peach Bowl. With Clemson’s strength’s who would you have to start this upcoming season?
Rod Gardner’s Answer Woody (Dantzler) with no doubt. Right now Willie (Simmons) is still in the learning process. I think Woody broke records last year and he only started four games. So, Woody has the talent and ability to do it all. Basically, Woody is the man this year.
David A. EvansWith all of your success last year and now that teams know of your talent and leaping ability do you for see being double teamed on almost every down and if so how do you or the coaches change your attack?
Rod Gardner’s Answer Teams have to have the respect for me based on what I did last year, but with the supporting cast I have at receiver and all the young guys coming in and stepping up, they can’t double-team me the whole game, because they have to at least respect the other receivers. Once we get those younger guys in tuned and all of us together you can’t double-team me every play.
David E. Kerstiens, Charlotte, N.C. I’d like to thank you first for all your hard work and successes as a Tiger. You’ve been a big part of bringing excitement back to Clemson football.
1. What was the toughest adjustment coming into Clemson as a QB and then ending up as a receiver — the main WR at that?
Rod Gardner’s Answer That is a funny question. When I first came to Clemson I always knew I could catch the ball so I was thinking wide receiver is not going to be too hard to play. So once I made that transition from quarterback to receiver I figured I needed to work on my steps and my cutting. I figured out wide receiver was a little harder than what I thought it was, so it was a big adjustment. It was real hard basically to get where I am at today.
2. Having seen it before at Clemson and with schools like last year’s Va Tech, good records, rankings, and stats usually don’t give a football team like us much respect when mentioned in the National Championship race. Do you feel there is a pressure put on the Tigers by the polls, media, etc. to beat a team like FSU and win a bowl game to get past that notion?
Rod Gardner’s Answer I don’t really think it is pressure because it is something we want to accomplish ourselves. We want to be the best we can be so if Florida State is standing in our way, that is one game we need to concentrate on and make sure we get that victory out of it. So, it’s not really pressure I don’t think, but it is just the respect people are giving us right now for us to go ahead and take it to the next level.
3. Since you see them work at practice, who do you feel is going to add the newest big-play element to the offense this coming season?
Rod Gardner’s Answer Looking at the receivers, I think it will be all of them. Right now everyone is stepping up their games. Picking the big play man will depend on what everybody does in two-a-days. Right now I like Kevin Youngblood, Jackie Robinson, Joe Don Reames and Matt Bailey. There are a lot of guys out there who have the ability, but basically they need to put it in effect and get it started.
Christopher Hickman, Charleston, S.C. Congratulations on all the pre-season accolades!
1. How would you rate your 4th quarter TD reception against USC last year? From a fan’s perception that was definitely the biggest play of the season.
Rod Gardner’s Answer It was a pressure play. It was a play that we needed. It was fourth and 10 and we went for the gusto. In my heart before we even ran the play, I knew I was going to make the catch regardless. From my perspective it was a big play personally because it put me over that 1,000-yard mark. It was a big play in my mind and a big play in the minds of our fans out there.
2. Has the coaching staff used you to demonstrate to possible recruits the new style offensive philosophy and the ability for a receiver to put up big numbers and gain national recognition in a once “run happy” family? Good luck and see you in Miami!
Rod Gardner’s Answer Everyday that you turn on the TV you see it yourself, the type of offense we run, the number of passes we throw. I had 80 receptions, (Brian)Wofford had 60 and Mal Lawyer had 40, it is unbelievable what can happen in this offense. That was just in the first year we implemented the offense into the program, so once everything gets fine-tuned it will be unbelievable what we can do.
Michael Hicks, Hickory, N.C.What is a good 40-time for a receiver in college? I’m a receiver in high school and I was wondering also what would be a good weight to get into college as a receiver? Thanks for your time!
Rod Gardner’s Answer It basically depends on how tall you are. Your height and your size. Right now I am 6’3″ and 217 pounds and I run a 4.4 in the 40. Any time you get into those fast times of 4.3 and 4.4, that is an excellent time for you to run the 40 in. If you average 4.5 in the 40 and you can catch and you have good feet, you can get in anywhere.
Tyler Martin, Lake Toxaway, N.C.Who was the toughest D-back you had to go up against last season?
Rod Gardner’s Answer It would have to be the cornerbacks from Mississippi State. They had some real athletes at their cornerback positions. They were big sized guys and they could run. That was the toughest game right there, going up against Mississippi State.
David Weathers, Spartanburg, S.C. Well, first of all, congratulations on your success a year ago, and on all the records you broke. My question is, when you leave after this season, who will take the void of the big play receiver for the next season?
Rod Gardner’s Answer I have no idea. Right now it just depends on what guys do this year. If I make big plays and there is a guy right there beside me making plays, you have to look at that guy as the one who is going to come in next year and be the big play man. It basically depends on how the season turns out.
Darrell Ellis Greenwood, S.C.How would you describe to a prospect what it is like to play in DEATH VALLEY?
Rod Gardner’s Answer I feel the excitement and the rush are unbelievable. It gets you pumped up so much that you don’t even know what is going on. The only thing you are worried about is being on that field on game day. The fans are excellent and the crowd noise is unreal. Running down the hill has to be the best entrance in college football. Coming into Death Valley, it is just exciting.
Jeff Childers, Lancaster S.C.1. Do you think you can break some of Clemson’s all-time receiving marks by the end of your career?
Rod Gardner’s Answer Hopefully I can. My plan is to break all of them. So I have a lot of goals set coming into this year. If I accomplish half of them, I think I will be able to break some of the records.
2. Would you ever want to return kickoffs and punts?
Rod Gardner’s Answer Yes, I want to do the return punt thing. I have thought about it and Coach and I have talked about it. It is a big thing to catch punts. I have been catching punts in practice for a while, I just haven’t done it in a game.
Bobby Morris, Mt. Pleasant, S.C. I’d like to say first that you have really added some excitement to the games in which you played in. For instance against South Carolina last season when you caught the pass for a touchdown on fourth and 10 in the late fourth quarter was awesome. I have two questions.
1. How does someone like you who is expected to repeat a great season with another great season go into the season? What kind of training and mindset do you have before going into games and such?
Rod Gardner’s Answer If I want to accomplish what I did last year, I have to focus and work even harder than I did a year ago. My work ethic has to be on top. I have to work even harder than I did last year to even compete at the same level I did last year. I have to believe in myself and believe that I can accomplish these goals.
2. Of the freshman coming in, who do you think will make a major impact on the team at the wide receiver position in years to come?
Rod Gardner’s Answer I really don’t know. I haven’t seen them practice too much, so I really can’t say at this point in time.
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