Clemson offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst, a self-proclaimed and unapologetically charismatic character, rapidly responded with his thoughts on the common notion of high-caliber SEC defenses.
"Well, if SEC defenses are above everyone else, I would like you to explain to me why we put 44 on Alabama in the Natty, but regardless. Yeah, quote that one," he said at ACC Kickoff breakout interviews.
"But regardless. In all seriousness. Georgia does have a very good front, and they've got; that Davis dude is big; he's really big. So I think it just comes down to the fact that we've got a really good defensive line that we go against in practice every day. And to have the privilege to practice against players of that level, you just can't; you cannot mimic that level of play."
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Confirmed (but assumed) later that he was speaking on sophomore defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and others, Bockhorst thinks the differentiator is how they "cut their teeth against the best." Bresee stepped in for an injured Tyler Davis during a pandemic that also lost Justin Foster and Xavier Thomas for extended periods and totaled four sacks and 11 quarterback pressures. Linebacker Baylon Spector tied Bresee for a team-high in the same category during 2020, with the next highest at eight (Myles Murphy).
The Tigers return all of their defensive line production from last season, and more with the return of a healthy Davis and a reunited Justin Foster—which is why, in part, the Tigers are currently 3.5-point favorites over Georgia, according to FanDuel.
"You can try to and do all these things, but to go against a really elite player, that's where you derive confidence from," Bockhorst said. It's doing it day in and day out against a really good player. And yes, different players have different styles, and you still have to prepare for Georgia or whoever. But for me, and I know that the guys around me, we get our confidence because we know we cut our teeth against the best."