Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says it does not get any easier for the second-ranked Tigers on Saturday when they travel to Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., to take on Florida State.
The Seminoles (4-3, 2-3 ACC) have won three of their last four games and is finally starting to hit their stride under new head coach Willie Taggart. The one loss in the last month was a one-point loss at Miami.
“This is a really good football team,” Swinney said Wednesday. “I know they didn’t get off to a great start, but sometimes, you know, with coaching changes and transition, it takes a little time to get things going. But these last four games, they have played a lot better and kind of, I think, has gotten in the rhythm of the season.
“This is a big challenge. This is still Florida State, one of the best programs in all of college football history, and a very tough place to go and win. So, we’re excited about it. Looking forward to it, and you know, know that we’re going to have to really, really play well, take care of the ball and do the things that we need to do to execute our plan to win.”
The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) will kick things off against FSU at noon on Saturday. The game will be televised nationally on ABC.
Swinney on the Seminoles’ personnel
“Special quarterback. I think Francois, he is a tough, competitive football player. Can make all the throws. They are one of the better pass offenses out there and one of the best rush defenses in the country. They are one of the best sack defenses in the country. They have got speed and athleticism at all the skill positions on both sides of the ball. One of the best punt returners in the country.”
Swinney on the biggest thing that has changed in college football
“It’s changed tremendously from an offensive standpoint because all of a sudden, shotgun became a factor. The spread offenses started getting into play. You know, the zone read, the high school offenses started to change and that trickled up to college and now it’s trickling up to the pro ranks, as well. I think that’s the biggest change is just the styles, the style of offense, throwing the ball a lot more, to run the ball. It’s become more of a space game.”
Swinney on the atmosphere at Doak Campbell Stadium this year
“I don’t give two second thoughts to that. This is Clemson-Florida State. I know there will be a really good crowd. I’ll be very surprised if there’s not. But hey, if it’s not, it really has nothing to do with how we should play the game. We’ve got a lot at stake, man. This is a division game. This is the biggest game of the year, and I mean, we’re looking forward to it, and we’ll be excited and ready to play. If we’re not, it’s going to be a long day and it won’t be because of what’s out in the stands. It’s going to be because of those players that Florida State has. This is a really talented team we’re playing.”
Swinney on FSU head coach Willie Taggert’s visit to Clemson two years ago
“I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t have people that helped me along the way. You know, allowed me to come visit; allowed me to reach out and ask questions like that. I think that’s one of the unique things in the coaching profession is coaches help each other. You know, obviously, had he been at Florida State at the time, it probably wouldn’t have happened simply because we’ve got to play them every year. But I’ve always followed Willie. I didn’t know him, but I had a lot of respect for what he had done at Western Kentucky and how he built the program back at South Florida. He was on his way to Oregon, had just taken the job and they reached out and I was more than happy to meet with him, like I am with lots of coaches. For me, I go back when I first got the job here, one of the visits I made was out to Texas and I didn’t know Mack Brown and he opened his doors for me to come in and was very helpful for me early on. So, I’m always glad to do that. Willie has been great. I’ve been around him in two or three meetings now since he’s gotten into the ACC, and you know, I think he’s a heck of a football coach. I think he’s a great fit. He’s trying to build a program the way he wants to build it, and the culture the way he wants it.”