The season has not even started yet and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is already thanking the media. Why?
“Ya’ll have made it easy (to motivate) because all spring and all summer, everybody just talks about the guys that are gone,” he said. “That really, to me, creates a great hunger for a lot of these kids that I have. It gives us a great edge because we have a lot of guys that are kind of sitting in the back of the room saying, ‘Hey, you know what? I was recruited, too.’
“They are eager to go prove they are ready to take that next step and have that big role.”
Swinney mentions guys like Justin Falcinelli as one of those guys, “nobody is asking about our center.” Falcinelli, a fourth-year junior, has to replace two-time All-ACC center Jay Guillermo. Swinney said the 6-foot-4, 315-pound center had a great spring and the coaches are excited about him.
Swinney looks at his three running backs—C.J. Fuller, Adam Choice and Tavien Feaster—and how tired they are about hearing Wayne Gallman’s name.
There is also the wide receiver position where the Tigers are as talented as they come. The Clemson returns playmakers like Hunter Renfrow, Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain, but Swinney said all everyone wants to talk about is the loss of Mike Williams and Artavis Scott.
He said no one has even asked him about Cain, who led the Tigers with 19.1 yards per catch average in 2016 and was second in receiving touchdowns with nine. He had 724 yards in just 38 catches. Plus, he made the play—a 43-yard catch-and-run—that got the Tigers going in the national championship game.
There is also the quarterback factor where no one, Swinney believes, is giving Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson any credit. It’s all about how Clemson has no chance of being as successful as the last two years without Deshaun Watson.
“These guys are eager to prove (the media wrong) because they had a role on our team last year,” Swinney said. “Now these roles are going to be bigger for a lot of these guys. There is excitement and a sense of urgency that I really, really like.
“They all have their own individual goals, but we hold them accountable. We go through our steps in our program that we believe in and when it comes time to play, we will be ready. It is not any different than it was last year. We are going to control what we can control and we are going to prepare our tails off every week to play the best game that we can possibly play. If we do that for twelve weeks, when it is all said and done, I think we will get more good results than not.”
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