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‘We wanted to be villains’: Barnes speaks about Palmetto Bowl

Jacob Citron
Khalil Barnes (36) pictured helping take down Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Freshman safety Khalil Barnes was perhaps the most significant factor in the Tiger’s 16-7 victory over South Carolina last Saturday. Barnes was the only player to score a touchdown for Clemson thanks to his 42-yard fumble return, in addition to an interception on the following play and four total tackles.

Speaking after the game, Barnes discussed his performance in the rivalry game.

“We established our identity,” Barnes said. “We wanted to be villains. We wanted opposing crowds to hate us.”
Clemson’s defense as a whole decided the fate of the game, allowing the Gamecocks only seven points. The Tigers held South Carolina to 169 total yards on offense and forced two turnovers in the game, both from Barnes.

“It just shows how good of a defense we have,” the ACC Defensive Back of the Week said. “It just shows the resiliency of this team. We have to stay together.”

Barnes touched on the significance of winning the Palmetto Bowl for the entire team and the impact of different playmakers, making sure to include his offense, which, at times, has faced criticism this season.

“It’s all a team effort,” Barnes said. “Cade made a lot of plays with his legs. A lot of people are going to say the offense should have played better. No. A lot of our plays on offense came from Cade’s legs. Phil Mafah, TB (Tyler Brown) made a lot of plays, then our punter put us in a lot of good position.”

He also spoke about his defensive touchdown, mentioning that the team practices defending screens on Tuesdays and that his practice translated to the scoring play. Clemson now leads the nation in defensive touchdowns with five.

Barnes ended the regular season with 31 total tackles for the Tigers, as well as one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three interceptions and six passes defended. He tied his season-high for passes deflected with two against South Carolina.

Barnes and the Clemson Tigers will be back in action for their bowl game, which will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 3.

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Luke Beard, Asst. Sports Editor
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