While Clemson is in the home stretch of the regular season, head coach Dabo Swinney wants to make sure that his team enjoys the process and the consistent success they have been able to achieve.
On Saturday, the seniors will be individually honored as they make their way down the hill. Swinney took time in his weekly press conference to speak about that and the challenges Pitt will provide the No. 2 Tigers in their 3:30 p.m. kick in Death Valley.
Here is what we heard:
Swinney said juniors Deshaun Watson, Artavis Scott, Wayne Gallman and Mike Williams will all be honored as seniors since they will graduate next month.
“They are more seniors than some of the seniors,” Swinney said. “To me, it is about graduation. Whatever their eligibility is … Lord you can get all confused on that. When you graduate, and then what are you intentions, those are the main things. Mike is graduating in December. Gallman is graduating in December. Scott is graduating in December. Deshaun is graduating in December, and all of those guys plan on moving on.”
Saturday’s matchup will also be special because it gives Clemson the opportunity to clinch the Atlantic Division title in the ACC.
“It would be special. We’ve got a chance for a tenth win. That’d be six years in a row. That’s the level of consistency we’ve dreamed about and wanted to be known for. It’s another division title, and that’s a chance to win the ACC title and work for our goals there. It’d be special,” Swinney said.
For defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Senior Day will be special because it will honor some of the defensive players who have poured their heart and soul into Clemson’s football program.
“I think it has been a reciprocal relationship with all of those guys. But we have gotten a little bit more out of them than we could have ever asked for,” Venables said.
“Obviously, I have a deep connection to Ben (Boulware). Again, he has been more than I could have ever hoped for when we recruited him. He has been a model of consistency if anything else. He is very passionate.”
Offensive lineman Jay Guillermo understands Clemson has reached a crucial part of its season, but he says he believes the Tigers will be able to cash out on all the hard work that they continue to put in every day.
“Every day I come over here I want to get that little bit better just because I know, If you can get better every day, by the end of the season you are going to be at your best whenever you need to be at your best,” Guillermo said. “If you just get better every day, and you just work like you are supposed to, be committed like you are supposed to day in and day out, it really does come to fruition like it is now for us. We have put all that money in the bank and now we are getting to take it out during our championship season.”
While Swinney and the other coaches say they have full confidence in Watson’s return for the Pitt game, backup quarterback Nick Schuessler is still preparing himself as if he will get the start on Saturday.
“I prepare every week like I’m the starter, so this week is going to be no different for me whether I’m called to play zero plays, five plays, or fifty plays. I’ll be ready to go,” Schuessler said.