By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After Clemson’s final practice before their season opener versus Troy on Saturday, Head Coach Dabo Swinney told members of the media that he believed his team was ready to compete against an opponent and were tired of practicing.
“I’m anxious to watch us play, I really am,” Swinney said. “I want to see where exactly we are, you can only practice so much, I feel like we’ve had outstanding preparation for one ball game, the guys are tired of practicing and they’re ready to play too and get on with it.”
Some may think that Swinney has been even more optimistic about his 2011 team than he has been in years past, is this true?
“Well I don’t know, I think I’m always optimistic about a season starting personally,” Swinney said. “I love it when it starts because we don’t get enough of these, we only get 12 Saturdays, and we spend all of this time doing everything else. The reason you coach is to be able to still compete and you only get 12 opportunities. But I’m excited; I like this team, love this staff, and think we have great chemistry and leadership.”
Which is Coach Swinney more excited to see on Saturday, a healthy Andre Ellington or what Coach Morris’s spread offense can do?
“I’m definitely more excited to see a healthy Andre Ellington,” Swinney said. “Regardless of the plays it’s about the guys running the plays, and Andre Ellington is a franchise kind of guy. We could be running the triple option for all I care; as long as we have #23 we have a chance to be successful.”
How has the team looked the past two days of practice as they prepare to face Troy?
“They look good, they’re tired of practicing,” Swinney said. “I think yesterday defensively they looked really sharp, not quite as sharp offensively, but today I think both sides came in with great focus and again now we’re at the point where they can sense its coming and they’re just ready to play.”
Swinney is not a creature of habit, or a superstitious coach when it comes to what uniform his players wear or what kind of shoes, instead he focuses solely on preparing.
“It comes down to blocking, tackling, throwing and catching,” Swinney said. “I am a big fan of routine, I think that’s one of the great things about what we do, we have a lot of structure. That’s why today, as the first Thursday, you sit them down and there’s a lot to cover because there’s a lot of things that they haven’t done yet. Things like how they’re supposed to dress, when can they put their warm ups on, what shirts do they wear, how do we handle ourselves at meals, just a lot of things that you have to cover from a business standpoint.”
What will be the message that Swinney gives his players both tomorrow and Saturday to help prepare them for the Trojans?
“Relax and go play,” Swinney said. “You’re prepared, have confidence in your preparation and stay focused on what we’ve talked about. We’ve prepared with purpose, that’s a big part of our formula, now just go play with great effort and commitment, and the fun’s in the winning. You only get 12 of these, I tell them all of the time that it’s a sprint not a marathon, they can’t pace themselves, they’ve got to come right out of the gates and give it all they got. This is our first goal, to win the opener, and this is an opportunity to achieve the first goal, that’s all we’re focused on.”