Clemson coach Dabo Swinney held his first regular season pre-conference Thursday morning to preview Monday night’s game with Georgia Tech in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With a Monday game, Thursday is actually Tuesday for the Tigers on their game week calendar.
Swinney expressed optimism about the opener and complete confidence in his team. Last season’s 10-3 record fell short of recent years, but Swinney thinks that will just fuel the hunger for this year’s group. He believes quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is as ready as he’s ever been and will be surrounded by an improved supporting cast.
Clemson has won seven in a row over the Yellow Jackets but trails in the series 34-51-2. Though the game is being played at a neutral site, it is a Georgia Tech home game, and capacity at the stadium is being limited to around 42,000.
Key comments from Dabo Swinney:
- Aidan Swanson will be the starting punter.
- DT Tre Williams is healthy and ready to play.
- After the season, they are going to completely redo the locker room under the West Zone and also redo the area where the Tiger Walk takes place.
- His players this year know what it’s like to be 4-3 at Clemson, they have a new appreciation for winning, maybe folks got a little spoiled when they had the long winning streak and were complaining they didn’t win big enough.
- NIL was not intended to be a recruiting issue. A bigger issue is tampering with players before they get into the Portal.
- NIL is part of the education process at Clemson. NIL is not professionalizing.
- He’s hired an NIL coordinator and doubts anybody in the country has an NIL coordinator as qualified as his guy, and they are building NIL space in their football center.
- As college football has changed, they’ve addressed all of those things from nutrition to training room to weight room to NIL to life skills and personal growth, but the purpose of their program has never changed. NIL is not the focal point with them.
- Freshman QB Cade Klubnik has come in and displayed some of the same traits that Watson, Lawrence and Uiagalelei showed as freshmen.
- Blake Miller, freshman starting at RT, is physically ready, bigger and stronger than Mitch Hyatt was when he started as a freshman at LT.
- His 7 championship teams all won their openers, his 6 playoff teams all won their openers, his goal is to achieve that Monday night.
- Georgia Tech hard to prepare for, don’t have a lot tape on them with their new look, new coaches, new players, a lot of unknowns about them.
- Excellent leadership. Likes the attitude and work ethic of his team, healthy team, good camp, in a much better spot than where they were this time last season. Randall and Thomas are out for this game but both trending in right direction.