Clemson finished its fourth practice of the preseason on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center Friday night around 7:50 PM. The team got a late start due to inclement weather in the Clemson area, but accomplished what was necessary according to Tigers Head Coach Dabo Swinney.
“It was a good practice and I am glad we got it in to stay on schedule,” said Swinney. “We got a lot done. The team has really bought into practice so far. The veterans are setting a good standard for the young players. I have seen a good blue- collar work ethic so far.
“A lot of the veterans have caught my eye. They are making each other better. I look at the matchup between Andre Branch (DE) and Chris Hairston (OT) and they are competing. They are making each other better every day.”
The Tigers will put on the full pads on Saturday so the physical nature of the practices will step up a notch. “I am looking forward to Saturday. We have had physical practices, but Saturday will show us who is going to hang onto the ball when there is a full tackle, and who can jar the ball loose on defense. We will knock out some cobwebs tomorrow.”
Swinney also commented on the release of the USA Today Coaches poll. Clemson was not ranked in the top 25, but will play five teams that are in the preseason poll. “I knew the schedule would be tough. It is every year. All that matters is that we control what we can do now and do what we can to be ranked at the end of the year.
“Last year we weren’t ranked in the preseason, weren’t favored to win the Atlantic Division. But we did both of those things by the end of the season. I look at playing five ranked teams as a great opportunity.”
Swinney also commented on C.J. Spiller, the Clemson first-round draft choice who signed with the Buffalo Bills on Friday. “I did communicate with CJ through text message today and told him I was proud of him. He has worked hard. C.J. is all about excellence in everything he does and I know he is going to be a great professional. He reached a life goal today. I take some pride in that because I might have helped him some along the way.
“I congratulated him and then told him to get to work. I know he will.”
Dabo Swinney audio: