As everyone was ready to talk about No. 2 Clemson’s win at Auburn last Saturday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney went down memory lane, back to what was a sore spot in his coaching career.
Coming off a 6-7 season in 2010, which included a 31-26 loss to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl to conclude the year, Swinney’s Tigers found themselves trailing Troy by three-points at halftime in the season-opener.
What happened after that was not a pleasant memory for Clemson’s head coach.
“I remember very, very vividly in 2011 jogging off the field at halftime against this team down, 16-13, and everybody was booing, including my wife,” Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference.
“It was not, it was not a pretty, pretty sight. We need to get excited about being in the Valley,” he said. “I think we have won sixteen in a row here at home and our crowd deserves a lot of credit for that. Let’s show up and do our part from that standpoint.”
The Tigers (1-0) will need all 81,500 and then some when they host Troy on Saturday in Death Valley, their first game at home since beating Wake Forest last November.
“I’m telling you, this team right here is going to be a handful,” Swinney said.
The Trojans (1-0) are coming off a 57-17 victory over Austin Peay last week in which they racked up 706 total yards. They rushed for 383 yards and threw the ball for 323.
“We had three weeks to get ready for Auburn. Now you get three days for an offense you have not seen,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “Here is the philosophy of what this team does. Here are similarities for teams we have seen, but this is new. They players are new. The schemes are new. The play callers are new. Everything is new.
“We are the Super Bowl for them. We are going to get their best shot. They are not going to come in here and be overwhelmed.”
Venables says Troy reminds him of Texas Tech from back in his Big 12 days. As a matter of fact, head coach Neal Brown was the former offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and is one of the many disciples of Mike Leach.
“The ball is out now. They snap it and they are pitching it,” Venables said. “Then they are spreading you out and are running it. They run it downhill and they have a big ole strong, physical, explosive back that maybe is a backup for (Dalvin Cook) at Florida State.
“He is a big nude that can fly.”
That big dude is Jordan Chunn, who rushed for 161 yards on 13 carries and scored one touchdown.
“The biggest thing I can tell you about Troy is that this is a dangerous football team,” Swinney said. “A lot of you guys might think that is coach-speak, but I’m telling you guys, right now. If they had Auburn across their chest … I’m telling you this bunch right here can play. I’m very impressed with how well coached they are.”