By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- The day before his Tigers make their second road trip of the season as they prepare to take on Maryland at Byrd Stadium Saturday evening, Coach Dabo Swinney met with the media to give an injury report and report on the week’s preparation.
“This has got to be the healthiest that we’ve been all season,” Swinney said. “The only two players on our injury list this week are DE Joe Gore and kicker Spencer Benton. As for Tajh, I know everyone thinks I’m lying but he looks really good. He looks just as good as he did coming into the Boston College game, I don’t know how to explain it. He’s taken every rep, we only ran him on Monday, he could have taken every rep on Monday but we wanted to hold him out a day. The only thing that’s injured is his ego from his teammates ragging on him.”
One of the objectives in this week’s practice for Swinney was to get his players to feel physically great by the end of the week.
“I want them to feel great when they hit the field Saturday,” Swinney said. “So that’s how we’ve tried to practice preparing ourselves more mentally this week than physically. They’ve proven to me that they’ll fight, they’ll bite you, they’ll play hard it’s just been six weeks in a row now with camp and everything and they haven’t stopped since August. We’ve still got three battles before an open date in November. So we’re trying to get them as fresh as we possibly can now.”
One player that has really come on this week in Swinney’s mind is Andre Ellington; a player that he and Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris hoped would be able to practice every day this week.
“He’s practiced every day and this has been the best week he’s had since before the season,” Swinney said. “He was really healthy before the start of the season and during the Troy and Wofford games, but then obviously he pulled his hamstring during the Auburn game and couldn’t finish and then had to bear through the Florida State game. Then against Virginia Tech Tajh hit him, but he hit his stride last week and it’s the best he’s felt after a ball game and the first time in a while that he’s practiced all week and taken every rep. He’s ready to be a work horse for us throughout the remaining stretch of the season.”
With the Maryland game being at night, Swinney has a routine that his team follows once they get to their hotel.
“First of all, the boys are going to be able to sleep in and get rest, we’ll have a brunch deal on Saturday,” Swinney said. “After the brunch we’re breaking up into Offense, Defense and Special Teams meetings and have another meal at three and a walk through at 4:10. So it’s not as bad as you would think, we’re not just sitting up there antsy waiting to play. It’s good it’s a good change; we’ve only had one night game. I’m actually glad it’s a night game as opposed to a noon game or 3:30 game, being that we have to travel so far.”
Snapper Michael Sobeski will continue to be the short snapper for Clemson’s field goal team, after Catanzaro’s success against Boston College last weekend and the AC joint injury to Clemson’s starting short snapper.
As for a target date for kicker Spencer Benton to return to the team, Swinney believes it will depend on Benton.
“It depends on him,” Swinney said. “They said that they hoped he could be back by the South Carolina game but in his mind he’s thinking he’ll be good to go before then. “
As for the young receivers, Swinney couldn’t be more impressed with the way they’ve practiced this week.
“Those guys practice hard every day,” Swinney said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in them and I’m not afraid to play them. Charone Peake is a really talented player and has practiced extremely well, same with Adam. Martavis has made good strides as in learning what to do. Those guys are special all of those guys are. Talent-wise I’d say that Charone and Martavis are right of there with Sammy. Sammy’s intangibles coming in really set him apart, his physicality, knowledge, maturity all of those things. Those guys will keep coming along though and we’ll continue to give them opportunities. I don’t have any hesitation at all in playing them, we’re at a point now where I feel like we can roll now whenever we want to, and these guys are practicing very well.”
As for Mike Bellamy, the speedy running back that had to sit out the first half of the Boston College game for disciplinary reasons, according to Swinney this week was his best week of practice yet.
“He had an excellent week, I hope he continues to stay on that trend and if he does he’s going to be something special,” Swinney said. “He’s starting to figure it out; we definitely got his attention last week. He’s a great young man he just has a lot to learn about the big picture. He loves football and his teammates, you just have to teach him and grow him up. If he continues to do the right thing he’s going to be a special guy, we just have to love on him. Disciplining a guy is just another word for loving him, and if he stays on this track that he’s on he’s going to be alright.”