Second-ranked Clemson faces a unique challenge as it has a quick turnaround as it prepares for Friday’s matchup against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
During Clemson’s weekly Tuesday press conference, head coach Dabo Swinney, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, defensive coordinator Brent Venables and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins spoke about the challenges the Orange will present the Tigers.
Here is what we heard:
With Clemson’s bye week just one week away, Swinney is making sure his team is still completely locked in for the rare Friday night matchup. A divisional game on the road presents a challenge in and of itself, but the Tigers will also be tested on the field.
“They are fast, aggressive and do what they do offensively,” Swinney said. “You give them any grass at all, they’re going to take it (to the house). They get the ball out really quick. It’s catch, cock and throw. A lot of competitive plays. They have every screen known to mankind. They’re a challenge and we have to really be locked in on what we’re doing.”
The Orange is averaging 466.8 yards and 32 points per game. Part of that success has been from quarterback Eric Dungey, who is second in the conference averaging 300.3 yards per game passing, while also completing 64.4 percent of his passes.
One of Dungey’s favorite targets is wide receiver Steve Ishmael, who leads the ACC with 729 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 121.5 yards per game. Another contributor to the receiving core is Ervin Phillips, who is third in the ACC with 452 yards and is averaging 79.2 yards per game.
“They have a great system,” Venables said. “This is the second year within that system and a quarterback that is very confident. He has a big arm and he his mobile. They get the ball out fast and they make a lot of big-time plays. It is going to be a huge challenge for us.”
The Tiger’s will also face a running back with a rare physique. Wilkins said that going up against 280-pound running back Chris Elmore will be a fun opportunity, and it may even convince Clemson coaches to let Wilkins get more offensive reps.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s a good opportunity.” Wilkins said. “I don’t think of it as a challenge, just an opportunity. It gets me ideas like I’m 300 pounds, only 10 pounds heavier so maybe we should incorporate bringing me into the offense, carrying the ball more. You know I am always in Coach’s ear about that.”
With the bye week near, the Tigers are allowing no drop off. It’s business as usual, and Clemson plans to show out in a packed house on Friday.
“The break isn’t yet,” Renfrow said. “We have to keep reminding ourselves that we have to finish through the Syracuse game strong. That’s something that we take pride in. We’re not going to go out there looking to be relaxed and looking forward to that date because we know it’s going to get there. We just have to continue to play well and go make plays.”