Clemson coach refuses to use COVID-19 as an excuse
During its run as one of college football’s elite programs, Clemson has been pretty fortunate when it comes to injuries. Granted, the Tigers have had a few substantial injuries here and there through the years, but never really the amount of injuries the program has sustained in 2020.
Clemson, who will play at Florida State on Saturday, has had to shuffle its defensive lineup each week due to some kind of injury either on the defensive line, at linebacker or in the secondary. The Tigers have also had injuries at wide receiver and now on the offensive line as well.
Though Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney expects to have a few more players back this week and says his team’s health is trending in a positive direction, the fact is the Tigers started the week with 12 players either doubtful or questionable to make the trip to Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday.
Two players—linebacker James Skalski (groin) and wide receiver Frank Ladson (foot)—have already been ruled out for the noon kick.
What No. 4 Clemson (7-1, 6-1 ACC) is going through is the same pretty much everywhere in college football this year. Some contribute all the injuries to the two-and-a-half-month shutdown the sports world went through this past spring thanks to the global pandemic. Like all student-athletes, football players were unable to participate in off-season workouts, train at their school’s facilities and take advantage of the other opportunities they receive, such as nutritional, weight and mental health training, to get their bodies and minds in the best possible shape for a long and grueling season.
“We have had probably more opportunities than most,” Swinney said. “We did have nine spring practices. We had our mat drills, but certainly not having the ability the second half of March, all of April, May and June to train like we needed to, I don’t think there is any question that has affected many, many teams.”
However, Swinney is not allowing the pandemic to be an excuse for all the injuries or why the Tigers lost their first regular season game in three years, when they were upset in double overtime by No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 7.
“Sometimes that is just how the ball bounces for you,” he said. “We are battling. We are growing as coaches. We are growing as a team. We have a lot of guys that have gotten a lot of opportunities and will probably continue to do that, so it is what it is.
“I don’t really spend anytime evaluating all of that … some years are just a little more challenging than others when it comes to injuries, but we are figuring out a way and that is what matters.”
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