|Pollack senses quiet confidence at Clemson|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:16 AM||
CLEMSON – ESPN’s David Pollack spent part of the day Tuesday with Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile, and senses a quiet confidence out of Swinney as preparations for the Tigers’ August 31st opener against Georgia get into full swing.
Pollack and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler were in Clemson Tuesday as part of the network’s College Football Live, and the former University of Georgia standout said that Swinney has more confidence in his lines than outsiders might have.
“I think Dabo feels extremely confident about his offensive line and defensive line,” Pollack told TigerNet Tuesday evening. “I think he is maybe more confident about those groups than he has felt in a number of years. I think in his mind there is just the one question mark, and that is the secondary.”
Pollack said that no one nationally will ever underestimate Clemson’s skill players, but that Swinney’s quiet confidence about Nuk Hopkins this time last year might bode well for both lines.
“I don’t think anybody can question Clemson’s skill players, especially those wide receivers,” he said. “I don’t think that anybody saw Nuk (Hopkins) coming a year ago. But Dabo knew what he had a year ago, and this is kind of the same thing. Their offensive players – that is an embarrassment of riches. It is filthy. The question mark on that defense is, can they grow up fast? There are a lot of new faces, and a lot of younger guys. It’s the second year under Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
View Full Profile, so there should be less blown assignments.”
It was announced during the show that ESPN’s GameDay would make its inaugural 2013 appearance at Clemson’s opener against the Bulldogs, and Pollack said the choice was a no-brainer.
“I honestly don’t know where else it would be. There just isn’t a bigger game that weekend,” Pollack said. “You have No. 5 against No. 8 and the game is at a home campus. What else do you need? We at GameDay haven’t been to Clemson in a long time, and that’s a shame because Clemson has one of the best atmospheres in the country. We have known for a while that we would be here. There are some good games, but the neutral site games aren’t as good as a game on a home campus.”
Pollack, who went to high school in Snellville, Georgia, said he knows first-hand about Clemson’s atmosphere on game day.
“I grew up going to Clemson games,” he said. “I have been to more Clemson games than I have at any other place, other than the games I played in at the University of Georgia.”
He then said that Clemson’s reputation of “pulling a Clemson” needs to go away with the national media because things are different with the program.
“I think it would happen, regardless of that LSU game,” he said. “Clemson would still be highly-rated. But that is one thing that kind of frustrates me, because Clemson has gotten a bad rap for ‘pulling a Clemson.’ They say that Clemson can’t quite meet expectations, and two years ago they had the 8-0 record and the hype train was rolling and it fell apart down the stretch. There was the Orange Bowl to forget.
“But people forget that the 2011 team was full of young players. Last year, those players and this program began to grow up. There were two losses, and they were both to teams ranked in the top 10. They were in both games in the fourth quarter. There were no blowouts. This is a tea that has matured. They are taking care of business. Two years ago, they won an ACC Championship with a team littered with freshmen and sophomores, and now these guys are upperclassmen. The arrow is pointing up and will continue to go up for Clemson.”
I asked Pollack what he thinks will be the key for Clemson if they are to knock off Georgia, and he said stopping running back Todd Gurley.
“For me, it is going to be stopping No. 3,” he said. “Todd Gurley might be the best back in the country. I went back and looked at some of the plays in the SEC Championship Game, and there were some plays he made that I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ If you have a young defense, and want to keep Clemson’s offense off the field, you let him tote the rock.”
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