Second-ranked Clemson heads into the final two games of its regular season as Atlantic Division Champions in the ACC for the third consecutive year. This year, in particular, is a little bit different as many people did not have the Tigers back in this spot with so many new or young faces on the field.
Tuesday the media heard from head coach Dabo Swinney along with defensive coordinator Brent Venables, cornerback Marcus Edmond and offensive lineman Maverick Morris. Here is what we heard:
“I’m really proud of our team for accomplishing the second goal,” Swinney said. “We work all year long to try to achieve goals and any time you see a group of young people come together and accomplish something it never gets old because it’s hard.”
The Tigers are set for a showdown as they will face No. 3 Miami for the ACC Championship on Dec. 2 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
“When everybody is after the same thing only one is going to get it,” Swinney said. “They don’t give you an ‘Atta boy’, you don’t get anything. Just one team is going to get the opportunity to represent the Atlantic and this team in particular has really won me over.”
Clemson (9-1) has certainly faced adversity this year with many injuries over the course of the season to key players such as quarterback Kelly Bryant, defensive Dexter Lawrence, safety Tanner Muse, corner Marcus Edmond and more. Venables does not look at it as a challenging season, but one that is just a little unlike the last one.
“Packaging things and calling a defense based on what you feel like can help a player, that part has been challenging a little bit at times,” said the defensive coordinator. “Trying to protect guys or help serve their strengths, but I haven’t looked at it as challenging. I just look at it as another season that’s just a little bit different than the last.
“They are all different so you kind of keep your head down as a coach. You try not to get (too high) or (too low) as a coach. You just stay even keeled in regards to preparing for the next opponent and doing it a certain way. Whoever is in there you have to be conscious but there’s no time to press the panic button.”
Fortunately for the Tigers Edmond told the media Tuesday that he is “close” to being back to 100 percent after suffering a foot injury against Auburn forcing him to miss the last eight games. He faced obstacles during the rehab process but was focused on getting through to get back on the field.
“There were some setbacks,” said the cornerback. “There was some real pain. But I always had a strong mindset and strong spirit about everything, so it didn’t really bother me.”
Much emotion will go into Saturday’s home game against The Citadel as it’s both Military Appreciation Day and Senior Day. With a winning percentage of .887, a win on Saturday would give the senior class the best home record of any Clemson senior class at 27-1.
A few players have already thought about the feeling of running down the hill for the very last time.
“It’s just going to be really bittersweet,” said right guard Maverick Morris. “I think there will be a lot of emotion for all of the seniors. We have ended up being a small senior class so we’ve had a lot of memories and then also having our parents down there waiting for us. I think we’ll get to the bottom of the hill and it will really hit us that that’s going to be our last game.”