Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney really cannot contain his excitement.
Finally after practicing and talking about what he has seen since the spring, Swinney’s second-ranked Tigers will actually get to go see what they can do against another opponent when they host Furman Saturday (12:20 p.m.) at Death Valley.
“This is just so much fun to have an opportunity to get back on the field and play,” he said. “I’m ready to kick it off. I cannot wait to see our team play and just kind of see where we are.”
Where Clemson is at is right where any team would love to be at the start of a new season. The Tigers are once again considered a favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference and contend for another spot in the College Football Playoff.
However, all of that is talk. What happens Saturday is actually a game and a start to see exactly what kind of team they can be.
“I think that is where every head coach is at, at this point,” Swinney said. “You know, it is just Game One. You can only find out so much at practice so I am just excited to see how we handle the game atmosphere, and just play somebody and get some knowledge on where we are and what we have to do to continue to improve.”
The goal for Week 1, besides beating the Paladins, is to get better – one day at a time, one week at a time and all year long so they can have an opportunity to really have a great season.
“We have had a really good camp,” Swinney said. “It has been a tough camp. I think the team is well prepared for the totality of the season. That is what we try to do through camp is to expose them and get them ready for what they are going to see and what we think we need to be able to do from a schematic standpoint all throughout the season.
“I thought our guys handled that very well and we came through it in a good fashion with the most part a healthy team. So, I am excited about having good depth as we kick it off.”
As for playing Furman, who is ranked No. 21 in the FCS Coaches Poll this week, Swinney said he is very impressed with the job head coach Clay Hendrix did in his first-year at the Greenville, S.C., school. The Paladins are coming off an 8-5 season, including a 6-2 mark in the SoCon, which saw them advance to the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
They were one of the most improved teams in the country in 2017.
“They had a heck of a run into the playoffs and just got better and better as they really, I think, have bought into what Clay is trying to do there,” Swinney said. “So, it is impressive. So, again, it is one of those games where sometimes people say, ‘You are playing Furman so it is this and it is that.’ We don’t ever look at that way. We really don’t.
“We have a standard and it does not change whether you’re playing a (FCS) opponent or you are playing in a national championship game. The standard is the exact same, every single week. That is how you develop consistency in what you are trying to do. That has worked well for us.”
And now he is just excited to go out and see it.