On Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, and defensive end Clelin Ferrell spoke to the media about the upcoming matchup with the Hurricanes and all that goes into preparing to face a high-caliber team in an championship game.
Here is what we heard as the top-ranked Tigers prepare to play No. 7 Miami in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday:
Swinney has five goals every season. They are to win the opener, win the division, win the state championship, win the ACC Championship, and win the closer.
With the fourth goal soon to be hopefully checked off on Saturday, Swinney is happy about where his team stands.
“Coming off a national championship in January, to see them go back to work and embrace a new journey has been fun,” Swinney said. “Some of the new guys that have come in and emerged, it’s been a joy to be around this team and watch them find ways to win games.
“We’re where I thought we’d be, and I’m proud of them. Not many people thought we would win the division, but we got that done.”
Miami presents a different problem than any other team Clemson has played. The biggest difference is that the Hurricanes’ are very balanced on both sides of the ball and leading the nation in forcing turnovers.
“They have really good skill,” Venables said. “Their quarterback has been playing well. Familiar faces, particularly at receiver. They’re doing a great job of being very efficient. The quarterback does a great job of making good decisions and getting the ball to his playmakers.”
But Clemson has been here before, and O’Daniel said the Tigers’ postseason experience has prepared them to face anything.
“As far as ‘been there, done that,’ we’ve been there and we know what it takes,” O’Daniel said. “So the moment is never too big for us because we’ve been in similar situations as we’re going through this year.”
That’s pretty much the mindset of all members of the football program. They know that focus and discipline to win games and eventually championships.
“The experience of being in the postseason and having your goals in front of you with the ACC Championship and the College Football Playoff, I feel like it’s a process of not being overwhelmed by all of the outside sources,” Ferrell said. “We are going to do a very good job and have been doing a good job of channeling our emotion and realizing that emotion doesn’t win you games. It goes back to the details and the process of getting ready to play.”
Clemson will face Miami in the ACC Championship this Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Kickoff is set for 8 pm and will be televised on ABC.