Dabo Swinney is a veteran of rivalry football games, and he loves them, feels it’s the best week of the season for college football fans. He cut his teeth on Alabama-Auburn, and has made his living on Clemson-USC. Swinney leads the Tigers for a 15th time against the Gamecocks Saturday night in Columbia. He was a winner in his first game and a loser in his last game against his rivals. He is 8-6 agains the Gamecocks and his team is a touchdown favorite going into this year’s battle. Clemson leads the alltime series 72-43-4.
Key comments from Swinney’s Tuseday press conference:
- Rivalry week is a special week across the country if your a college football fan; always tough in Columbia, great environment, fans there do a great job.
- They’ve got some dudes who can really hurt you, Rattler played well against them last season and has played great this season, just another QB who presents a tough challenge, has good receivers, Anderson good running back, tight end, Legette is a superstar.
- Their defense, they’ve had all-stars at safety, experience at linebacker, Kilgore has been very good, veterans up front on the defensive line; rivalry game doesn’t really matter what you’ve done in the past, comes down to playing well in the four quarters.
- You want to win this game whether you’re 0-11 or 11-0, all the other stuff surrounding the game doesn’t really matter.
- Colllins was sore yesterday, probably not practicing this week, Williams remains day to day, Stellato is fine.
- Rattler doesn’t sit in the pocket very often, they have tight ends setting the edge to let him get outside, he’s an explosive player, incredibly accurate, doesn’t get enough credit for his running ability,they just don’t leave him in the pocket.
- Doesn’t recall much about Legette from high school but he has developed into a guy who will be a great pro, a reminder that this is a developmental game.
- Feels the Portal is a great tool for the players, sometimes they need a fresh start or a new opportunity, Rattler is a good example of that.
- Gamecocks have more weapons than just Legette such as Brown, Harbor and Joyner, they’ve done things to give defenses different looks like bringing Sellers in and running different motions.
- USC will try and get something going in the run game, will run a lot boots, have to affect Rattler, if he’s comfortable in the pocket it will be a long day for them; Anderson is a tough runner, hard guy to tackle, downhill runner.
- When you live in a state like this and you lose, you learn how serious the rivalry is, even if you didn’t grow up in the state.
- Preparation, details, uncommon effort, eyes on the right things, ripping the ball out are some of the reasons they’ve done a much better job creating turnovers the last few weeks.
- Turnover margin is key to the recent success, they’ve won that in their last three games and won all three, turnover margin has been important in this rivalry, in their five-game losing streak they lost 15 turnovers to their three.
- “Hopefully our fake punt will work this week, call that in the first or second series.” Announces punter Aidan Swanson will return for next season.
- Thinks they’ve gotten better in special teams, punting, kickoffs, returns and coverage, field goal kicking has been up and down and something they have to address in the spring, knows USC will have good special teams play.
- Most interesting interactions within the rivalry were with Steve Spurrier, they remain good friends and he’ll see him in a couple of weeks at the hall of fame ceremonies.