Another day of interviews means another day closer to the showdown between two top-five teams at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly Tuesday press conference to discuss the challenges No. 4 Louisville brings to the table when the third-ranked Tigers host the Cardinals on Saturday in Death Valley.
Here is what we heard:
Although Clemson approaches every game with equal importance and preparation, Swinney admitted that this type of matchup and atmosphere brings along a different level of excitement for the fan base.
“They’re all big, but sometimes you get one that has a little more pizazz to it and a sideshow. Really happy our fans have a chance to experience a game like this,” Swinney said.
Swinney believes he experience his team has had in games that generate mass amounts of national attention will help them stay focused on the task at hand.
“They haven’t lost many games in their career, but they’ve lost enough to know that you have to bring it each and every week,” Swinney said. “We have a great respect here for how we get ready, and that’s what we try to stay focused on.”
Center Jay Guillermo said he is excited to have a night game back in Death Valley because the fans create an incredible atmosphere that can be disruptive to opposing teams.
“It is going to be a sold out crowd. Every seat in the house is going to be taken. It is something that you can’t describe, especially when you come to run down the hill. Our fans do a really good job no matter what time it is coming out and supporting us in those big games. I really think they make a difference. You can just tell looking at the other sidelines when our crowd gets really into it, just how it can really deflate a team,” Guillermo said.
However, Clemson’s defense knows a great team, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, that is capable of putting up tremendous numbers is coming into town.
“He is just a great player. He is very tough to defend,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “They have an excellent group of players around him. They are very smart and manipulative on how they are using him and putting him in very successful situations. I think they are utilizing his skill set the right way. He is just a tough guy to defend.”
Venables also noted that Jackson’s ability to gain lots of yardage in few plays will be a challenge.
“It is a nightmare to watch. It just makes you sick. It is frightening, it really is to see those plays, those chunk plays happen,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise you. They do a good job of putting themselves in those one-on-one winnable situations.”
In the beginning of the season, Swinney was hopeful to get defensive end Austin Bryant back from a foot injury. On Tuesday, he said he’s still unsure if Bryant will be able to play against the Cardinals.
“We were just in shorts yesterday,” Swinney said. “Today will be more of a telltale on him when we put the pads on, and we’ll see how he responds.”
Linebacker Kendall Joseph said that the defense would definitely benefit from having Bryant back for a matchup like this if he is ready by Saturday.
“It would be a big one because it would be an extra guy we have to keep the big guys fresh. He is a great player and the defense is ready to see him back. He was supposed to be a starter and then goes out with a freak injury. Man with him being back, it is just an extra guy that can make plays,” Joseph said.