When the ACC released the 2011 football schedules the Clemson staff had to be disappointed that the two toughest ACC games will be the first two of the season. The young playmakers for the Tigers will need to be ready to go when Auburn comes to Death Valley on September 17.
“This is certainly the most challenging schedule since I have been at Clemson, including my time as an assistant. But, that is what you expect when you come to a program at this level. We accept the challenge,” said Swinney.
The Tigers will open the season with two home games against out of conference teams.
“We have a string of games against outstanding programs in the first half of the schedule. First, we start the season against an outstanding Troy team that won eight games last year. They were among the top offenses in the nation and they ranked in the top 10 in the nation in sacks. Then we play Wofford, who won 10 games last year and they run an offense that is very difficult to defend,” said Swinney.
The Tigers three game stretch of Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech will test Clemson’s youth early. If the Tigers hope to win the Atlantic division a win over Florida State in the first ACC game of the season is a must.
“ I don’t know how many teams nationally have three straight games against FBS teams that won at least 10 games the previous year. All Clemson fans will be excited to have the defending national champions come to Death Valley. It was a thrilling overtime game at Auburn last year and I know it will be a special environment at our place this year. Florida State and Virginia Tech back-to-back is a tall order to open the conference schedule. Clemson and Florida State are the last two Atlantic Division champions and Virginia Tech has won the ACC three of the last four years,” said Swinney.
After playing every game at home in September, the Tigers will find out if the 2011 team can win on the road. Something the 2010 team could not do.
“We are going to have improve on the road over last year. The five teams we play away from home won 44 combined games last year. Those will all be difficult places to play with sold out crowds,” said Swinney.