By Trey McCurry.
After days and weeks of preparation, it is finally the time everyone has been looking forward to: GAME WEEK! Second year head coach Dabo Swinney echoed what many fans have been thinking as well. “It is finally game week. I’m excited about that. We can see what work we have gotten done since last January. Game week is like Christmas for me. I am anxious to see this team play.”
Swinney wasted no time at his Tuesday press conference before discussing North Texas. “There are a lot of unknowns with them. They have a lot of tradition, winning four straight conference titles from 2001-04. When you look at them, six of their nine losses last season were by 24 points. They had the lead in five of those games and just couldn’t hold on, so this team is capable. They have some good players.”
On offense, the Mean Green set a school record with 4900 yards last season and has the best three-year offensive production in their history the previous three seasons. North Texas head coach Todd Dodge turned over control to his offensive to new offensive coordinator Mike Canales, who was previously the coordinator at South Florida.
When looking at the Mean Green, Swinney said “You have to prepare for what you have studied on North Texas, but also what he (Canales) has done as South Florida. One player we have to look out for is #5 (Lance Dunbar). He can flat out play and fly. He had 1400 yards last year with 19 touchdowns.”
“Defensively, North Texas returns 10 players on defense that has started at least three games for the Mean Green, while the other player is a junior college transfer. They are good at what they do from a scheme standpoint on defense.”
As for his own team, Swinney is looking for good execution. “You always want to see how they (players) carry things over from the practice field. For us, we are excited. This is game one of 12 and one of our team goals is to win the opener. Hopefully yesterday’s good practice was a indication of how we will play Saturday.”
Swinney also talked about how this year’s team will be much more balanced as far as production. He also laughed while saying “You will see some guys have career games this year, mainly because they have not had the opportunity previously.”
The second year head coach also tackled the most popular question of camp: How about the wide receivers? “I feel good based off what I have seen in practice. This has been the same question since I got here. We lost Hamilton and all Currie did was lead the lead in receiving, he left and we moved this Stuckey kid to wideout and all he did was go back-to-back All-ACC. In the past seven years, we have had five different guys make All-ACC and I don’t think another team in the conference can claim that.”
As for this season, the former wide receiver coach said “We have good players. We have some young guys that will make mistakes, but they have talent. It has been a very competitive, consistent camp and right now we just have to let it play out and sort itself out. One guy that is ready to seize the moment is (Marquan) Jones, but I am excited for our young guys too. Jaron Brown has a chance to be special, and the same thing goes for Bryce McNeal and Nuke Hopkins.”
With the opener against the Mean Green only five days away, Swinney and the Tigers looked to move their record against current Sun Belt teams to 5-0.