Tar Heels have several key players questionable for Saturday’s game
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney hopes his team goes to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this Saturday and plays like a football team that has played four games this year.
The top-ranked Tigers (4-0, 2-0 ACC) visit North Carolina at Keenan Stadium on Saturday for the first time since 2010. Clemson has won its first four games by an average margin of 32.3 points per game, while outscoring Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Syracuse and Charlotte 169-40.
“We have had a solid week, and everybody is looking forward to going up there, and hopefully playing our best game,” Swinney said following Wednesday’s practice. “Hopefully, we look like a football team that has played four games and has been coached and corrections have been made.”
The excuse “the Tigers are a young team” is not acceptable to Swinney. They are a month into the season, and he wants to make sure they start playing like a team that now has more experience and is improving from week to week.
“We are not a young team anymore. We have played four games and we had a month of camp. We need to act like it, and we need to play like it,” he said.
Clemson heads to Chapel Hill as a 26.5-point favorite. The Tigers will take on a beat-up North Carolina team.
The Tar Heels (2-2, 1-0) are already down their starting center, Nick Polino, and now left tackle Charlie Heck could miss the game, too. Polino was injured against Miami in Week 2 and has missed the last two games. He has already been ruled out for this week.
Heck is listed as questionable for the Clemson game with a broken right hand. Redshirt freshman Joshua Ezeudu will get the start.
If Heck can’t go, UNC’s potential starting offensive line will consist of two redshirt freshmen and three redshirt sophomores.
North Carolina defensive tackle Jason Strowbridge is listed as questionable, as is safety Myles Wolfolk. Starting cornerback Patrice Rene is already out for the season.
Backup quarterback Jace Ruder is listed as questionable after he suffered a lower extremity injury in his only snap against App State last week. If he can’t go, then the Tar Heels will have to turn to walk-on Vincent Amendola if anything were to happen to starter Sam Howell.
As for Clemson, it is relatively in good shape. Swinney announced Wednesday night that wide receiver Justyn Ross has had a good week of practice and he is ready to go. Ross could have played last week against Charlotte, according to Swinney, after they sat him for much of the week to help rest his sore hip.
Since he did not play, Swinney said he is well rested, healthy and will be ready to play on Saturday.
Reserve right tackle Blake Vinson is out for the season with a patella injury. Swinney announced Vinson’s injury on Tuesday.
Vinson used his redshirt season in 2017, but with the new redshirt rules, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman is eligible for a medical redshirt and could get a sixth season of eligibility should he choose.
The Clemson-North Carolina game will kick off at 3:30 p.m., and will be televised by ABC.
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