By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Another week, another challenge as our Tigers head to Atlanta this weekend to face off against inner conference rivals Georgia Tech. Coach Dabo Swinney was on hand Thursday after practice to speak to the media about Clemson’s injury report among other topics.
“We had another good week of practice, a really good week,” Swinney said. “This was our 12th week straight of practice and I have to say I believe that this one was the best we’ve had to be honest with you. We got focused on the task at hand, had good attention to detail at all three phases, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning and getting back over here to tie everything together from a meeting standpoint and then we’ll head down to Atlanta around 1:45 PM.”
The Tigers have faced off against teams this season that arguably have more talent than the Yellow Jackets, however each year Georgia Tech has been a thorn in Clemson’s side no matter what.
“Every team is difficult to prepare for, at this level everyone has good players, they’re well coached, good schemes,” Swinney said. “It’s a unique challenge from a schematic standpoint but they’re all tough, Georgia Tech vs. Clemson though, 14 of the past 16 games have been decided by an average of 4.6 points, so it’s always a battle regardless of records. It’s a team that got as high as 10 or 11 in the country a few weeks ago, so we’ll have our hands full. Again though it’s all about Clemson and how well we play, we’ve got to execute our plan and make adjustments throughout the game.”
As far as injuries, running back Andre Ellington is the only person that Swinney believes is a game time decision.
“Everyone’s in good shape, Andre is questionable I think he’ll be a game time decision, based on how explosive he is during warm ups,” Swinney said. “I’m very hopeful that he’ll be ready to play but we’ll start Howard and Bellamy and they’ll carry the load early. It’s not anything severe, he just gets better every day and needs a little more time.”
Is Swinney comfortable with putting the majority of the load at first on Howard and Bellamy?
“Definitely, both of them have played and it’s just the way it is. DJ was the leading rusher against Auburn in the first game he’s ever played to be honest with you,” Swinney said. “And Mike’s had some big moments; he sealed the deal for us against VA Tech. I’ve got a lot of confidence in them, they’ve practiced well. Every game I tell our team that there are 4 to 6 plays that make a difference and that you’ve got to be ready to make those plays and we have up until this point, so nothing changes going into Atlanta.”
As for Dwayne Allen and his turf toe injury that he suffered during the first quarter of the Boston College game, Swinney knows that he’ll be ready to go.
“Dwayne’s the same he’s been for the last month, he’s been working with a bum toe for the past three or four weeks,” Swinney said. “He practiced really well today, it’s one of those things on game day he’ll get a shot in it, and his isn’t as bad as CJ’s was when he was here. It’s just the way it is at this time of year. There are a lot of guys banged up right now, bruises, shoulders, knees, elbows you name it. It’s the nature of the game, when we’ve been going for 12 straight weeks, with collisions every single week; it takes a toll on you.”
Since I started attending Thursday practices, there have been two little girls named Audrey and Bridget and their parents standing outside the practice fields waiting for Dabo and the team to come out so that they could give them high fives. Each week, they’ve been there and have even made t-shirts that read “Give Us Five Keep the Streak Alive,” and each week the players, Dabo and the coaching staff line up to slap the girls high fives.
This week was no different, but we had a chance to speak with the parents of the young girls today, and we found out that this is a tradition that they started a few years back, and that the Tigers are 16-0 in the games that these girls come to practice on Thursdays and give Dabo high fives. It’s gotten to the point where Dabo looks for them every Thursday and even during the Tiger Walk on Saturdays. They are the true meaning of a good luck charm and I hope they can bring luck yet again to the Tigers against Georgia Tech this weekend!