By Will Vandervort
Just because the schedule says “open” by the date of Nov. 9 on the football schedule, it does not mean seventh-ranked Clemson is actually off.
Sure the Tigers do not play until a week from this coming Thursday, but Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Monday this Saturday “it’s really a work weekend for us.”
“We will be smart on how we prepare our guys and we look forward to getting back in the Valley a week from this Thursday,” he said in his weekly teleconference.
The Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC) will host Georgia Tech on Nov. 14 when they do get back on the schedule, but for the next 11 days they will do a lot of self-scouting, will practice getting themselves better and go build a home for Habitat for Humanity on Friday in Anderson.
Each year the Clemson football does a community service project during the week of an open date. In year’s past it has visited a soup kitchen, a children’s hospital, a prison and a food bank. Swinney likes to do this as a team because it not only builds team camaraderie but it also shows his players that there is more to life than football and what is happening inside the football program.
It also shows them that there are people out there that are less fortunate than they are and they should be thankful for what they have and find ways to help those that are not as fortunate.
“I’m excited about it,” Swinney said. “They have it all organized and we will have the whole football team there. We are going to give them a couple of hours of good hard labor. We are looking forward to making a difference in our community.”
What Clemson isn’t looking forward to is defending the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense on Nov. 14. Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2 ACC) is leading the ACC and ranks fifth nationally in rushing offense with 311.2 yards per game.
The Yellow Jackets have 31 rushing touchdowns already this season.
Swinney, who is 2-4 against head coach Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets, is hopeful the extra week of practice and preparation will have his defense ready for the triple-option attack.
“Well, it helps a lot because it is so different from anything else,” he said. “Normally, week-to-week when you sit down and start game planning, you have your base system in what you start to do. You start studying tape and immediately start pulling up some things; things you have done all year that you think apply.
“But when you are getting ready for the triple option that is a whole different deal, you forget everything you know from a system standpoint. It is just a season of its own. It really is. We say that all the time, ‘every game is a season of its own,’ but this one right here truly is because you do not have much carry over as far as how you play in defending these guys as opposed to most everyone else you play and that’s what makes it tough.”
The fact the Yellow Jackets are so good at it, makes it even tougher to defend.
“They don’t just run the triple option, they know what they are doing,” Swinney said. “They are really good at. Having a few extra days is really helpful.”