There would be no war of words from Dabo Swinney’s side of the Palmetto Bowl rivalry, he has nothing but respect for the job Will Muschamp has done in his second season at South Carolina.
Following a 56-7 blowout win last year at Death Valley, Swinney knows he will see a much different team this week in the Gamecocks.
Swinney believes that South Carolina comes into the ballgame with a lot of momentum, with Jake Bentley playing better and a defense that seems more apt to handle what the Tigers have to offer.
Despite an improved USC team, Swinney stresses the first focus should be on their preparation.
Swinney on USC
The Clemson coach seemed cognizant of the fact that USC has played its best defense when it matters most, in the red zone.
Despite giving up yards between the 20s, South Carolina has done well to limit team’s scoring when they get down close.
Swinney recognized the issue against Florida State, and knows they will have to pay special attention to their execution against the Gamecocks.
Swinney “not the team we saw last year”
Of course this rivalry business is nothing new to Swinney, having grown up in a rivalry of his own with Alabama and Auburn.
He has embraced the everyday aspect of the Palmetto rivalry, and says it’s part of what makes college athletics special.
Swinney on rivalry
The most important thing, Swinney says, is that rivalry stays on the field and between the white lines as it refers to the players.
There would be no bulletin board material or anything that compromises the integrity of the program this week as long as he has anything to say about it.
Swinney: keep the rivalry on the field
While it was mostly a cosmetic tuneup, Swinney believes they got a lot accomplished during the Citadel game including getting some confidence back.
The Clemson coach lamented how against Florida State they got the ball down to the 1-yard line twice and scored just three points in those combined trips.
Despite the competition they faced, Swinney believed it felt good for some guys to have some swagger, and also allow players they might need down the stretch to get some more time on the field.
Swinney on Improvements
Swinney believes both JD Davis and James Skalski will be needed this week in place of LB Tre Lamar, who he said was doubtful to play against South Carolina as he rehabs from his stinger injury. The coach believes both played well against Citadel, giving Skalski “player of the game” honors after the game.
Outside of Lamar, Swinney said the Tigers are as healthy as they’ve been in a while, and that Dexter Lawrence, Mitch Hyatt and Kendall Joseph should be good to go this week. Swinney said Chad Smith is the only player he would list as questionable.
Clemson and South Carolina face off at Williams-Brice Stadium at 7:30 PM on ESPN Saturday.