Swinney calls Jackson an elite player

Sep 24, 2016; Huntington, WV, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) carries the ball against the Marshall Thundering Herd in the first half at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Third-ranked Clemson will be the latest team next Saturday in Death Valley to try and stop Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The sophomore currently leads the country with 25 touchdown responsibilities, including a national high 12 rushing touchdowns to go along with 526 yards. Oh by the way, Jackson can throw the ball, too. He has completed 74 of 126 passes (58.7 percent) for 1,330 yards and 13 touchdowns against just three interceptions.

He threw for a career-high 417 yards and five touchdowns in the Cardinals win over Marshal on Saturday, while rushing for two more. Louisville is averaging a ridiculous 63.5 points per game with their lowest total being 59 points in the win over Marshall.

Swinney says everybody is having such a hard time at stopping Jackson because he is an elite player.

“He is special. He is definitely an elite guy,” the Clemson coach said during his weekly Sunday teleconference call with the media. “He has probably been the best player in the country this (first month). I think he leads the nation in rushing touchdowns.

“You are not dealing with just another guy. He is an elite player so we are going to have to play our best game to hold this guy down.”

Pizzazz game. Swinney says he enjoys every week during the college football season because he only gets 12 of them a year. However, he called this week’s game against Louisville one of those “Pizzazz” weeks with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the much anticipated matchup between the two top five teams.

ESPN’s College GameDay will be on hand, while ABC has picked it up as its primetime Game of the Week as well.

“Anytime you get a chance to play a night game here in Death Valley. It is going to be a great night,” Swinney said. “As far as a matchup like this, as a competitor, these are the games that you relish having an opportunity to be a part of. They’re all huge and they all count and are big, but when you get a top-five matchup, those are unique and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Williams could be back.  Swinney said linebacker Jalen Williams did suffer an MCL sprain. The sophomore was injured on the third play of the game in Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech.

“We are very thankful that it was not his ACL,” Swinney said. “He will be out for a little bit, but eventually we will get him back.”

Swinney was told the other day (after the Georgia Tech game) that Williams could be out for a few weeks, but he said he has not been told anything new about a timetable. He said he will probably know more tomorrow after he talks with the team doctors.

With Williams out, Swinney said Dorian O’Daniel will get most of the snaps. Williams and O’Daniel were splitting time at the SAM / Nickel positions. Korrin Wiggins and Ryan Carter could also see more playing time at nickel depending on the formations they are seeing.

Will Bryant play against Louisville? When asked if defensive end Austin Bryant would be full-go for practice this week, Swinney said he was not prepared to answer that at this point.

Bryant of course fractured a small bone in his foot during training camp and had minor surgery to fix it. The sophomore has missed the first four games.

Swinney said in his weekly press conference last Tuesday that he was hopeful about getting Bryant back this week.

Players of the Game. Swinney announced Clemson’s Players of the Game for the Georgia Tech game are: Offense – Ray-Ray McCloud; Defense – Ryan Carter, Van Smith and Carlos Watkins; and Special Teams – Chad Smith.


–Photo Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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