With 17 starters back from last year’s College Football Playoff team, including defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence and defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, Clemson appears to be the favorite once again to win the Atlantic Coast Conference and play for the national championship.
When the season rolls around, the Tigers likely will start the year as the preseason No. 1 ranked team, a first for the program. ESPN’s FPI already ranks the Tigers at the top, and all of the early preseason rankings have Clemson ranked either No. 1 or No. 2.
But none of that stuff matters to head coach Dabo Swinney. He said the Tigers’ goal is to just get ready for Furman on Sept. 1.
“We know we have a good team,” Swinney said at the IPTAY Prowl & Growl event in Florence Wednesday night. “We are a team that we know we will have a chance to have a good year. But, if you start looking ahead and start thinking about all of that stuff, you can get distracted.”
Right now, the Tigers are focused on final exams and then a well-deserved break before hitting the weight room and the practice fields in late May, when they will begin summer workouts.
Swinney says if the Tigers want to accomplish all of their goals in 2018, they first have to have a great summer.
“We are going to grind,” the Clemson coach said. “We have to pay the price. We have to go to work. We have a lot to do this summer. We have a lot of knowledge that we have to gain. We have a lot of guys that are improving.”
Though the Tigers have a ton of experience coming back, there are also a lot of unproven players that are improving, but they are not quite ready to win with just yet.
“We need to get them in the category that we know we can go win with them to go along with the bunch of other guys,” Swinney said. “Then, focus on Clemson and get ready for Furman. That is all we need to be worried about.”