Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his first weekly press conference of the 2016 football season on Tuesday. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables and some players met with the media as well to discuss the second-ranked Tigers’ opener at Auburn on Saturday.
Here is what we heard:
There are a lot of expectations for Clemson to have success in 2016, but Swinney said he has always felt the expectation to win.
“There is nothing that has changed. We still have a lot to prove. I am as hungry as I’ve ever been, probably more so,” the Clemson head coach said. “The last time I checked, every time we were lined up to play in 2009, we were expected to win, and when we didn’t we didn’t have anyone patting our backs.”
Swinney said Clemson’s keys to success are staying consistent and guarding against complacency.
“I think when you’ve had a lot of success, you see programs go up and down. And that’s what I’m most proud of with our team, we have been very consistent. We have been as consistent as anybody in the country. That is the culture. As I’ve said many times, we don’t want to have a great team, we want to have a great program,” Swinney said. “So when you’ve had success that is the thing you have to always guard against is complacency. That’s what coaching is all about. That is the daily climate that you create.”
Venables knows Clemson’s defense will need to be dialed-in to take on Auburn quarterback Sean White this Saturday.
“Sean is a good decision maker. It is not a real surprise to us that he is named the starter. He is a quality, quality player,” Venables said. “He beat Deshaun (Watson) at the Elite 11 as the top quarterback. He’s got that ‘it!’ He is a very good leader, and again, I’m going back off that recruiting and all those intangibles that you love.”
Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins says the matchup at Auburn comes down to everyone doing their job to stop the ball.
“Everyone is going to have to do their job and not get too wrapped up in how big the game is,” Wilkins said. “Guys have to do what they’re coached to do. Just do their job, not do anyone else’s job, and we’ll be fine.”
On the offensive side of the ball, there are high hopes for Clemson’s unit to be one of the best in all of college football. Tight end Jordan Leggett said Clemson is focusing on being the best offense Clemson has had.
“I think this offense is going to do things that are very unheard of. We can definitely strive to be the best in this stadium. I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Center Jay Guillermo thinks Clemson definitely has the potential to be the best, but it all comes down to execution.
“I think we set a standard last year of what we can do. We’ve got guys coming back that are older and a little more mature, so we do have the potential, once again, to be better and be the best ever.”
Guillermo said the offensive line has a selfless mentality to do anything it takes to help the team get the win.
“Whatever we can do to help the team win. That is what we want to do and what we focus on because as Coach (Robbie) Caldwell told us, we are the mushroom crew. We flourish in the dark, so whatever we can do to help our team win is what we are going to do,” Guillermo said.