While Clemson students are enjoying fall break, the second-ranked Tigers are preparing for their next challenge. Clemson is nearing the end of the regular season, but this Saturday’s matchup against Pitt still stands in the way. Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and players met with the media on Monday to talk about the challenges the Panthers will bring.
Here is what we heard:
Elliott said he hopes the team begins to play its best football in the championship phase of the season.
“The biggest focus for us and we tell the guys, and Coach (Dabo) Swinney has been preaching it since he started this program, ‘People remember what you do in November.’ We want to peak at the right time so we challenge our guys to play championship football going down the stretch,” he said.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson came out of Syracuse game with a hurt shoulder and backup Nick Schuessler came in the game in the second half. However, Elliott said Watson will be fine and will play against Pitt.
“He’s got a bruised shoulder, but he came out in the second half and was able to throw the football. But we had the game under control, and (Nick) Schuessler was playing really good at the end of the first half. So, no doubt in my mind,” Elliott said. “What makes him special is his ability to play on the edge, and when you take that away from a playmaker like him, then you’re not doing the best thing for him.”
While what Clemson has been able to do on the field is impressive, head coach Dabo Swinney stresses it is more meaningful to him to see his players graduate. In December, Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Artavis Scott will both graduate early after just three years of college.
“We had a little success my freshman year so we talked about it and we talked to our advisor. We came in early, so we talked about how maybe we should graduate early,” Scott said. “We wanted to see what we had to do and what it would take. Knowing we had a chance to leave early, we thought maybe we should have our degree while we do that. So we sort of talked about it, and that’s what we had to do in order to get it done.”
Although the two stars on Clemson’s offense will be getting their degree in December, Scott said he is focused on ending the season strong and will decide about his future later.
“I’m just finishing this season and trying to get my degree and then I will think about that stuff later,” Scott said.
Last Saturday against Syracuse, freshman running back Tavien Feaster rushed for 28 yards on nine carries. Elliott said on Monday he is working hard to move up on the depth chart.
“You’re just seeing a lot more confidence and a lot more attention to detail the last couple weeks,” Elliott said. “Obviously this is the college level and everything happens fast, the windows in the running game are very small at times. That’s what you saw him do is get committed to his technique, and he’s really understanding what we’re trying to do. So, he’s fighting his way up the depth chart.”