By Will Vandervort
The last time Clemson had a bye week—Sept. 14—the seventh-ranked Tigers were only two weeks into the season and were still trying to figure things out.
“We really were putting the hammer down, full speed ahead,” head coach Dabo Swinney said after practice Wednesday. “That was forever ago. We had just played two games so that was a little different deal.”
As Clemson (8-1, 6-1 ACC) gets ready for next Thursday’s game against Georgia Tech, Swinney says they are handling things a whole lot different this time around.
“This is going into our tenth game so the tempo is a little different,” he said. “They did not hit. They had no hitting on Sunday because they’re always off. Monday we just had meetings and (Tuesday) we had a great, what we call ‘tracking practice,’ but no contact. That’s the first time they have had three days without any hitting for a long time.
“Today we went full pads and actually did some live work there at the end. The last couple of periods we are all live defensively.”
Swinney said Wednesday was a very physical day, something his team needed and Thursday’s practice will be a little more of the same.
“We weren’t on the field quite as long as we were earlier in the season, but we got a lot done (Tuesday), a lot done today and (Thursday) is another big day for us.”
Clemson will have a non-practice day on Friday. There will be a lot of meetings for the staff and then the team will do its community service project in the afternoon, which will be helping build a Habitat for Humanity House in Anderson.
Swinney says Saturday will begin game week. It will be like what is normally a Monday for them on normal weeks.
“We will have another full week to kind of get ready for (Georgia Tech),” Swinney said. “This has been some priceless time to get some extra work in.”
The Clemson head coach says this year has been a little bit easier to prepare for the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense, not only because of the extra week of practice, but also due to the fact a lot of his defensive players have a lot of experience in preparing for the Georgia Tech scheme.
“It is totally different on how you prepare for them because you don’t see it every week,” Swinney said. “You are coaching things a lot differently out there. But we play them every year. That’s our cross rival (in the ACC) so our guys have good experience.
“It’s not like the first couple of years where it was really, really a challenge. We have a bunch of guys that have played against them the last few years so they have a good understanding of how you have to practice and prepare on how you have to play them.”