Interview with ESPN's Ed Cunningham

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

ESPN approached me about doing a short Q&A with this weekend's color analyst, Ed Cunningham, for the game tomorrow. I wasn't able to find time in my schedule to talk to Ed or ESPN over the phone but we did get the chance to send him some questions about this weekend's game and Clemson football. The group of us came up with the questions. We thank Ed and Mike Humes for their time.

Give us your evaluation of the season DeAndre 'Nuk' Hopkins is having thus far. Does he get enough credit nationally for the year he is having? Do you think he's an early round draft pick?

Ed: He is starting to get the publicity because they have played so many high profile games without Sammy Watkins. Regarding the draft, it’s hard to tell until I see his true measurable stats. He definitely has good hands, good body control and runs good routes.

Morris and the Hurry Up No Huddle have pioneered a new level of offensive tempo that seems to be catching on nationally. What impact, if any, do you see this having on not only opposing defenses but ones own teams ability to defend. Is this a contributing factor in Clemson's defensive lapses this season?

What Morris and several schools are doing is changing offensive play forever. You have to defend almost 90 plays, which in turn, just like the other team, is very difficult to do. So I think we need to start looking at defensive statistics in comparison to the team’s offensive statistics to better inform us of what a good and bad defense is. For instance, yards per play allowed.

How do you think Clemson gets over the national perception of 'pulling a Clemson'? Do you think the label is justified?

The question is, is there such a thing as "pulling a Clemson?" Because you are asking about, it makes me think there is. There are teams that are known for this, which I’m not sure is fair. Schools at different frequencies win big games and lose big games in the sport.

Where would you rank Andre Ellington nationally and how high in the NFL Draft would you project him if he stays healthy and continues to put up similar numbers?

There is no doubt he is a very explosive runner for his size. It’s difficult for me to get an accurate draft grade on him without studying his full season. This offense is so different than what he would be playing in the NFL. But I’m intrigued to see how this season plays out for him.

It is obvious after last season that Dabo Swinney gets emotionally fired up about winning. What do you think is the appropriate or most effective temperament for a championship head coach in today's football media environment?

To me, it’s more about sincerity and integrity. If it is a false enthusiasm he would already be gone. But I genuinely think that he is the type of person he is. As a player, I would rather have a coach who embraces who he is rather than one who doesn’t know who he is.

We tend to overlook this one, but from an outsiders perspective, what would you consider to be realistic goals for Clemson to achieve on an annual basis? In other words, in your opinion, what defines success for a program like Clemson?

In competition for the ACC championship in November every two out of every three years and with the ability to make a run at the National Championship three out of 10 years. And those should be the expectations at any top program in the country. Clemson fits that mold.

As a former lineman, and a member of a national title team, what do you think Clemson needs to get in place to really challenge for title? At STS, we put a premium on line play, both offensive and defensive. It really sets the stage for everything a team does. Is it as important to be as great here up front as we harp on?

You are correct in your assessment of line play. Clemson is getting close to where they need to be. I was very impressed with their offensive line, physically, against Florida State. And their defensive line looked like some young guys who have some work to do.

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