No one really knows when the college football season will begin or what it might even look like. But we do know this. Whenever the players are allowed to come back to campus and begin working out, Clemson is going to be ready.
The Tigers already made more progress in the spring than most of their competitors. They were able to get in nine spring practices before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Included in those nine practices were a full stadium scrimmage and a half-scrimmage.
“We just feel really good about this team,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Swinney insists, despite the stoppage and the two-month quarantine, this year’s team is ahead of schedule compared to the 2019 team heading into fall camp. That is saying a lot considering the 2019 Tigers played for a national championship and had seven players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“We just have a lot more functional players in our first groups,” he said. “Last year, defensively, especially up front, that first group was as green as they come. But our first groups on both sides, and even on several of our twos, really can go play winning football for us.
“So, I feel good about where we are. We have a lot to do.”
Of course, the main difference this year for the Tigers is COVID-19. They have had a difficult challenge of staying focused on the task at hand and getting their work done, despite what is being said or not said about the 2020 college football season.
From the beginning, Clemson has prepared for the season to start on time, and for their Sept. 3 opener at Georgia Tech.
“This whole ordeal we are going through, right now, has created a unique challenge for us as a football team,” Swinney said. “I will tell you, I knew that we had great people, but to see everyone rise up and adapt and find a way to still be great, it has been really special to be a part of it.”
Swinney says the Tigers have kept themselves busy during the whole pandemic. Players have been working out at home on their own, while the coaches have been participating in staff meetings and recruiting virtually. Swinney says he has never been this busy in his life, and that is saying a lot considering he has coached his teams to two national championships and played for it two other times.
“The only thing we are not able to do is practice and to be in a room together, but we are doing everything. We really are,” he said.
The coaches have been able to host a few virtual team meetings, as well as segment meetings. The coaches pretty much are meeting on a daily basis as they plan for the 2020 season and how they will continue to tackle the recruiting trail.
However, there is one thing missing that has made Clemson’s Football culture one the of the best in the country.
“All that stuff has been great, but you miss that community. You miss being together,” Swinney said. “There is nothing like being able to be together. To have that community. But I am really proud of everyone … our team, our staff and how everyone has responded.
“Our players are in a really good place and they are doing an awesome job.”
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