Clemson football practice report for Thursday


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Dabo Swinney after practice audio

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers finished their preparation for Wake Forest Thursday evening on the practice fields behind Jervey, and head coach Dabo Swinney said the team used the two weeks since the loss to Georgia Tech to good use.

“We've had a good two weeks,” Swinney told the media following practice. “I think we've accomplished all of our goals. We're a healthy team going into this thing. They're ready to play. We've got 42 hours, so at least we don't have to wait too much longer. Now, we talk to them about visualizing themselves performing well because good performance starts in your head. That's what we talked about after practice. That's really all that's left for them to do these last 42 hours, to kind of go back over everything, get ready to go play, cut loose and have some fun.”

Swinney said the Tigers are as healthy as they have been all season, and expect to have kicker Spencer Benton and running back Andre Ellington at almost full strength for the Demon Deacons.

“Even Benton is a possibility. I've been pretty pleased with him,” Swinney said. “He really pushed himself this week. He wants to play. He kind of went the extra-mile to show me that he was ready to tackle somebody. Obviously, that's my biggest concern. He's got to be able to tackle. He did a good job. He tackled some dummies to the ground. Did a couple of drills where he ran through some people. He kicked off really well. Obviously, his leg's pretty fresh. There's a chance we'll get him in there.

“He {Ellington} looks good, excited about playing. I'm excited to have him out there. We're not very good when he doesn't play. I don't think our record is very good over the last year or so when he hasn't been in the game. I'm real happy to have him back. We've got to be able to run the football against these guys. “

Other highlights

On the health of safety Rashard Hall

“He’s trying to make the best of it. I really appreciate his unselfishness and commitment to his team. The brace that he wears takes pressure off the spot in his knee. He's going to have to have surgery after the season is over. He really wanted to keep playing, but he's obviously not 100 percent. He's a good player for us. I just appreciate his commitment.”

On Xavier Brewer working at safety

“Some of that depends on the opponent and how they're going to play. Sometimes, the strong safety will end up being a cover guy for us. That's part of it. Plus, it's just getting a little bit more depth, trying to get the best guys out there. [Bashaud] Breeland has continued to come one. We're trying to get him out there a little bit more, so it just gives us a little bit more options. He could play either one. That's just how Brewer is. He's a smart guy, can tackle. Oftentimes, he's in coverage. He does a good job with that.”

On Penn St. situation

“You'd have to be living on Mars to be in this business and not know what's going on up there. It's really been breathtaking. It's sad. Beyond words. I followed Penn St. for a long time, especially with my background at Alabama. A lot of games against them. In 1990, my sophomore year, we played them. I remember like it was yesterday. I remember sitting there looking at Joe Paterno and going, 'Golly, that's Joe Paterno.' He looked like my granddad then, and that was 21 years ago. It's just really sad, but it's one of those things. I spoke to the team about it, used it as an opportunity to kind of coach a little bit. It doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter what position you're in, and we don't know all the facts. The bottom line is, I think it's real obvious there were a lot of things not done right. I'm really kind of disgusted by the allegations and all that kind of stuff. I've got three boys, and it's hard for me to go there. It's hard for me to understand how it got to this point, because it seems to me, if more than one person had just done what was right, it never gets to this. There probably would have been some pain somewhere along the way, but nothing like this. It's just a great lesson for all of us. Who knows what's going to come of it, but it just seems like it's going to get worse. My thoughts and prayers are with all those families, young people that were involved. I just hope that there's a bunch of stuff that we don't know will shed positivity on it. But it doesn't look that way. It looks like there's a lot that we don't know and we're probably not going to like it when we do know. At the end of the day, it all goes back to people just doing what's right. Coach Paterno - it's really sad to me, because he represents, to me, a lot of great things about coaching, the business, the profession. I guess time will tell what he knew, when he knew it and all that kind of stuff. We don't know.

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