By Trey McCurry.
Following a 35-10 win over North Texas in the season opener, second-year head coach Dabo Swinney said this week’s focus is very simple. “It is on us. It is about improvement. We did some good things last week, but obviously we have some areas that we need to work on.”
In the first meeting with Presbyterian College since 1957, Swinney gave some brief insight on his knowledge with the Blue Hose. “Coach Nichols is a good coach and they seem to be improved from last year. They put up 362 yards of offense at Wake Forest. Defensively, we are pretty familiar with them with the connections we have (Tom Evangelica and Andy Ford). They are not very big, but they are young and are not just going to sit there so we need to be prepared for different movements.”
Swinney also addressed any injury issues the Tigers may have going into the second week of the season. “Injury wise we are in pretty good shape. Maye is progressing very well and is questionable. Chavis will practice today and is probable. Yesterday, Jarvis Jenkins knee swelled up on him and he has a slight MCL sprain. He moved around well yesterday, but we will be cautious with him.”
Offensively, Swinney was asked about the vertical passing attack. “We obviously need to get the ball more. If we can run the ball, that will set everything up for us. There may be some games where we take advantage of it because of what they were doing, but it will have to be dependent on a good running game.”
Swinney also talked about his running backs, specifically Jamie Harper. “What ya’ll say Saturday (with Harper) is what we saw all camp. He is just growing up and working hard. Like most juniors, he has had to pay his dues and has learned how to take care of his body. He had put on a couple pounds of muscle and can just fly.”
Moving fast was another thing Swinney wanted to work on in week two. “We never really established the rhythm we wanted. On the two-minute drive, we got there and would like to mix more of that in.”
Defensively, Swinney just said it was just a typical first game. “Everyone wants to focus on the negatives, but you have to give them some credit. We had six sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Both those are top-five in the country. That just means that guys are active and throwing their bodies around. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment because results are what count. We forced a lot of third downs, but we just could not get them off the field.”
Swinney also talked some about special teams against the Mean Green, especially concerning Dawson Zimmerman and Marcus Gilchrist. “What everyone saw Saturday (with Zimmerman), is what we see in practice and why he is a practice All-American. He had a great spring, camp, and the 50.8 net punting is a Clemson single-game record.
Gilchrist also did a good job on returns. “He is a vet and did a great job and could have scored on one if he had stayed outside. You have to have ball skills, some guts, great confidence, and little eyes. All the great ones have that and they all have that swagger.”
Going into this game, Swinney said his main focus is to get to 2-0 this week. “I am not worried about anything down the road. I want a win Saturday and get to 2-0. That hasn’t happened a lot around here. We want to see them execute what we practiced.”