Head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers are looking for their sixth straight win over rival South Carolina. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney addressed the media, Tuesday, to comment on the upcoming rivalry game at South Carolina. The Tigers are looking to win their sixth game in a row over the Gamecocks and 27th consecutive game overall. The emotions surrounding rivalry games are heightened, but for the Clemson head coach, it’s something he’s accustomed to as it’s always been a part of his life. Born into a family on the Crimson Tide side of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, Swinney’s 17th Clemson-Carolina game is just a continuation of what he’s always known. “I feel sorry for players that don’t get to be a part of a true rivalry like we have here …. It’s a natural thing for me. I’ve been a part of it since birth, literally. My mom and dad were Alabama and that’s what I was and how I was raised. To me, this just feels normal.”

Swinney also took the opportunity to speak out on behalf of some of his best players’ lack of national recognition with regard to individual awards. “If there’s a running back award and Travis Etienne isn’t in the finals of it, I mean, what a joke. Just wait and see who gets drafted first …. This guy is off the charts special. He’s the best back in the country.”

It’s easy to make a case for Etienne based on stats alone. Etienne has rushed for 1,335 yards and leads the country at 8.7 yards/carry. Etienne, like many of Clemson’s stars, often rests during the second half of one-sided games.

Swinney continued, “Trevor Lawrence didn’t make first-team All-ACC last year. How did that work out? …. Tee Higgins? He’s as good as we’ve ever had. And an even better young man. All he wants to do is win …. I’m taking Tee. And when the NFL draft rolls around, you’ll see them line up to take him, too.”

South Carolina has its share of stars, too, and Swinney was effusive in his praise of defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Shi Smith. Swinney spoke of Smith’s elusiveness, calling him “dangerous,” and said Kinlaw has no weaknesses, comparing him to former Tigers defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.

But Swinney also exuded the confidence of a coach that has seen his Tigers outscore their rival by an average score of 48.7-17.3 in the last three meetings. Clemson piled up 744 yards of offense against the Gamecocks last season at Death Valley.

Clemson and South Carolina renew their rivalry in Columbia at noon, Saturday. The Tigers are 26.5-point favorites.

Key comments from Dabo Swinney press conference

  • Wide receivers Amari Rodgers and Justyn Ross are both back and ready to play after leaving the Wake Forest games with injuries.
  • About Todd Ellis’ comments on Walk of Champions: It’s not taunting … It’s part of our warmup … We shouldn’t lose our perspective. It’s a game.
  • Swinney loves the two open dates this season. Says there have been years (2015) that his team played ten in a row and his team was running on fumes heading into ACC Championship Game
  • On Gamecocks offense: They’re well-coached. They run a lot of formations and motions. They’ll go empty …. They just have some youth and injuries.
  • On favorite games in the rivalry: Probably 2008, in last game as interim coach. Also 2014 when Deshaun Watson played on torn ACL. Deshaun was simply awesome that day.

Dabo Swinney press conference