Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media for his weekly Tuesday press conference along with various players to discuss the challenges of playing Georgia Tech this Thursday in Atlanta.
Here is what we heard:
Although the short turnaround is tough, Swinney is excited for his team to have the opportunity to play on a Thursday night.
“I think as a competitor you like opportunities like this to play and have the national audience,” Swinney said. “I know as a coach, I like to watch the Thursday night games, I’ve always liked that. It is good for our guys to get a couple days of break on the back end of it. It is a challenge, I don’t like the short weeks upfront, I would rather have some time before a Thursday night, but it is what it is. It is the same for both sides.”
Defensive end Christian Wilkins will be vital to Clemson’s success, and he made the most of his limited preparation time.
“I watched a little more film this week than I usually do because it’s a shorter week,” Wilkins said. “My whole week is altered because of the short week and getting ready for the triple-option. But I think as a defense we’ll be fine. We’re all working really hard this week so that we can get a good result on Thursday.”
He, along with every other defensive player said the key to success in stopping the triple option is maintaining discipline.
“It’s a way different offense, and if you’re not disciplined, you really can get exposed,” Wilkins said. “Everyone’s going to have to key in on doing their jobs and focus in to make sure they do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”
To make sure the defense is truly ready for the unique challenge, defensive coordinator Brent Venables is spending some time as the scout quarterback.
“He’s out there full of sweat, his shirt is soaking wet. It is a great look for us. He pushes the envelope and has a great tempo for the scout team,” linebacker Kendall Joseph said. “He actually knows what he wants us to look at so he actually pushes the scout team faster. It is great for us.”
Venables said he enjoys playing scout team quarterback because it makes practice more efficient.
“I just have experience with the offense. I have been able to control the tempo, the mesh points and how to operate the offense pre-snap,” Venables said. “Scouts are a little more scared of me so I can hurry up and get them lined up faster. Snap it when I want to. Make sure the defense is adjusted the right way so if I need to stop just before I snap it I can. I’m just being efficient.”
His players said they get fired up when they have the opportunity to play against him.
“I have hit him before. I have hit him several times, but they are mostly like pushing him and stuff like that,” linebacker Ben Boulware said. “But he wants us to hit him. He likes it. He gets fired up when we do.”
“There’s been a couple times where I just wanted to take him off his feet,” safety Jadar Johnson said, laughing. “I actually like it when he gets in at quarterback because he makes it more intense, because if he completes a ball on you, he isn’t going to let you live it down,” he continued. “If Coach V throws the ball in the air, I will not let anybody catch that ball.”