It is always interesting for Dabo Swinney to turn the page and see what the next challenge is for him and his top-ranked Clemson Tigers.
The challenge today, according to Swinney, is the Charlotte 49ers. They come to Death Valley for 7:30 p.m., kick sporting a 2-1 record with wins over Gardner-Webb and UMass and a loss to App. State.
Swinney’s description of the 49ers earlier this week made it sound like the Tigers (3-0, 2-0 ACC) were playing the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers on Saturday instead of Charlotte.
“This is a team offensively that is going to challenge us,” Swinney said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “This is the most explosive team we have played to this point.”
Swinney said Charlotte has had 25 explosive plays in three games.
“They put 41 (points) up on App, and App State, they are not a slouch,” he said.
The 49ers are averaging 47.3 points per game and have scored 41 or more points in all three games to this point.
“The biggest thing I am impressed with is just how well coached they are,” Swinney said. “They have a great scheme. Schematically, this is probably the biggest challenge for our defense just on what they do structurally.”
Swinney says Charlotte, who is a 42-point underdog to the Tigers, uses a lot of multiple personnel and formations and creates a lot of challenges communication wise, alignment wise, creates extra gaps and play action.
“They are just well coached. They just know what they’re doing,” he said. “They really known what they are doing. So, from a scheme standpoint, this is just a challenge.”
To this point, Swinney says the 49ers will be the best rushing team they have faced this season. They’re averaging 296.7 yards per game and 7.1 yards per carry.
“Their ability to run the ball and how they are coordinated to run the ball is the best team we have seen in three games,” Swinney said. “This is a team that can embarrass us if we don’t really have a great week of preparation.”
On the defensive side, Swinney is just as impressed. Defensive end Alex Highsmith (6-4, 242) caught his eye, as did fellow defensive end Markees Watts.
Charlotte heads into Saturday’s game tied for 5th nationally in sacks with 13. Highsmith leads the team with 4 sacks and 5.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“They probably have the best player that we have seen to this point in (Highsmith),” Swinney said. “He is on all the great player lists, all the awards and all that stuff. I kept watching him, and I’m like ‘Holy Cow!’ He looks like Xavier Thomas.
“He is a really good player. He is physical. He is fast. He is disruptive. He is causing sacks, tips and they had a pick-six against UMass that he caused and created. He is a really, really good football player. He is a really good football player … both of their ends are. That (Highsmith) could play for anybody in the country.”
Charlotte is giving up 33.7 points and 313 yards per game.
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