“Best of One.” That’s the game week slogan around the Clemson football facilities this week as the Tigers prepare for the state championship game against South Carolina. Because of last year’s cancellation, fans have had a two year build up to the game and are ready to jump on anything anyone has to say that might be good bulletin board material. If you were looking for that from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney Tuesday, you came to the wrong press conference.
Swinney had nothing but verbal bouquets to toss Columbia’s way. He and Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer have been friends for years. He’s loves Beamer’s parents. And he said Beamer’s son was actually a Clemson fan for a while, something he plans to remind him when he sees him Saturday.
As for what is being done in the Gamecock program, Swinney said he hasn’t paid close attention, but in preparing for this game, he sees many areas of improvement and potential trouble spots for his team. And turnovers, which were key in his team’s five game losing streak to the Gamecocks, will be a major factor one way or the other Saturday night.
Some key comments from Swinney:
- Impressed with USC and what Beamer has done; they play hard, evident by outscoring opponents in 4th quarter.
- Brown has stabilized their QB position; Harris and White have been good at RB; Vann is really good at receiver; it’s a group playing with a lot of confidence; since the Tennessee game they have settled down on defense and have an identity.
- They are playing well together, opportunistic on defense and on special teams; they have to protect the ball and not give them a short field; have to be able to run the ball; they are a good team and looking forward to the challenge.
- Can’t worry about what’s left regarding the division race, proud that this team is still alive for it the last weekend, but it’s out of their control.
- Disappointed they couldn’t play last season due to the SEC rule of league games only, cost them a home game with their biggest rival, didn’t make a lot of sense to him that they could travel to Notre Dame for a game, but USC couldn’t take a bus to Clemson.
- They haven’t played a complete game on the road yet, his players will know what to expect regarding the fans and the noise, they can only control what they can control.
- Ngata is better, but he won’t be back this week; EJ Williams remains day to day, he was with the trainers yesterday and they were working him over; surgery on Ross went great, very clean and simple.
- Turnovers the major difference in the five-game losing streak and the current six-game winning streak they; had 15 turnovers during the losing streak, protecting the football is key.
- Impressed with Jason Brown, had not heard about him, knew about Luke Doty and had heard the story about Zeb Noland, impressed with what Brown did in mop up time at Texas A&M, he has an understanding of what they are doing, can extend plays.
- They’ve done a good job of playing to their strengths; getting on the perimeter, been creative, using all the tricks, but it will come down to how they will run the football, White is emerging, and Harris is getting back to where he was.
- Beamer is trying to establish core values, it’s not easy, tough decisions along the way, setbacks, but Beamer is a positive guy and that’s what it takes.
- His understanding is TE Braden Galloway plans to graduate and not return to the program in 2022.