CLEMSON, SC- With the Auburn Tigers coming to Death Valley this weekend, Clemson’s Head Coach Dabo Swinney believes that his team is prepared for the reigning National Championships and is confident that his Tigers will give the Auburn Tigers a run for their money.
“This weeks’ practice has been really good,” Swinney said. “It’s been the best week of practice so far this season; these guys are dialed in and excited about playing.”
In order for his team to come away with the W this weekend, Swinney knows that they must do a better job at executing and making big plays.
“We’ve got to be focused Saturday,” Swinney said. “In order to do your job, you’ve got to know your job, really know the plays and go out there and execute them, which is what it’s all about at this point.”
Although this weekend’s game is just another game to Swinney and his players, they have all noticed a certain buzz around Clemson, including Clemson students dying the reflection pond on Clemson’s campus orange for the Auburn game.
“There’s absolutely a certain buzz around Clemson surrounding this game,” Swinney said. “This game’s on national television, we’re playing the defending national champion, you don’t get this opportunity every day. Every game is big, and we prepare for them the same way every week, we don’t do anything differently each week. There’s a bit more at stake this week, each step you take, it gets a little bit more intense, that’s how you go through the season, you’ve only got 12 of these Saturdays. The further you get into the season, the more meaningful each Saturday gets.”
As for the offensive line and their lack of physicality in the first two weeks of play, Swinney feels like they have improved every day.
“We’ve had a lot of intensity this week,” Swinney said. “The coaches have done a great job at teaching these guys to play physical, but this group has seen the film and they know what they’re capable of doing. I’m pleased though with how well they’ve responded so far this week; I’d lose sleep if I didn’t have video evidence of our guys doing what I want them to do.”
With starting right guard David Smith out for the Auburn game after having shoulder surgery, reserve Mason Cloy will take his spot and Swinney couldn’t feel more comfortable with Cloy and him filling in for the injured Smith.
“Smith was hurt in Tuesday’s practice, so he had surgery today and hopefully he’ll be back next week. It wasn’t anything season ending and he’s a vital part of this team so we need him back.”Swinney said. “We’ll continue to work Kalon (Davis) to step in, but right now Brandon Thomas looks like he’s going to be the guy to step in, we’re working him out at guard and tackle and he’s really coming along, he’s had a good week. Brandon’s got all of the talent in the world; it’s all up to him now he’s got to make up his mind on if he wants to be a great player or just a good one. He’s got greatness in him.”
As for Rashard Hall, who was out versus Wofford with a knee injury, Swinney is pleased with how well he’s worked during practice in his fitted brace that he will be wearing versus Auburn.
“He had a good week,” Swinney said. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with him, he seemed to be real comfortable with his brace.”