A new season: Tigers ready for start of ACC play against Yellow Jackets


by - Senior Writer -
Swinney speaks to the media Tuesday
Swinney speaks to the media Tuesday

CLEMSON – Next up, ACC play.

No. 6 Clemson takes on Georgia Tech at 3:30 pm Saturday in Death Valley, the start of ACC play for both teams. Clemson has won six in a row in the series, including last season’s 73-7 thrashing in Atlanta. It’s the start of seven straight league games for the Tigers.

"Every week is really a season of its own. That's how we look at it. A lot of opportunity ahead,” head coach Dabo Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. “I'm excited about ACC play. We have seven straight conference games. The next goal for us is to win the division. We have a lot of improving to do to be the type of team that we want to be.

"Our next challenge is Georgia Tech and they are a much-improved team. You can see that belief growing. They are committed. They have seven guys back on offense, three of them upfront. Their back is a special player. A good challenge for our defense.”

Swinney said the Jackets have experience on defense.

“Defensively they have 10 guys who have started at least five games. Their strength is their secondary. Everyone is back,” he said. “They also have a good transfer in at middle backer. They're not huge upfront but they play big and tough. They give you a lot of different things from a coverage standpoint.”

Injuries

Dietrick Pennington tore his ACL, so he is going to be out. A big disappointment there. He will be a great, great player. He would have been a difference-maker for us as the season wore on. I hate that for him, but he was able to get through camp and can redshirt. He will be back better than ever. That's three big losses for us on the offensive line. John Williams was going to help us as well. We lost Tayquon Johnson and he was going to help us, too. We have to keep moving forward."

On how he evaluates the running game after Saturday

“Was our communication better? We had some miscues we need to correct. The biggest thing I was looking for, I saw. We had a lot of guys who graded as winners. We had a lot of fundamental improvement. We got back to the second level without him being touched a lot. They got better in their execution upfront. The backs did an awesome job. We didn't give the backs much opportunity in the first game."

On the running back rotation

“We have at running back what we have at defensive end, a bunch of guys who can start for us. We have three guys who can start for us. We thought that for sure in camp. Kobe (Pace) had a great spring and summer. He's explosive and physical. He's disciplined and committed. Same thing with (Will) Shipley. He is a Swiss army knife. He's powerful and relentless for every single yard. He runs through trash. They can all catch the ball. Lyn-J (Dixon) has great experience and makes big plays. All three are going to help us. Wait until you see Phil Mafah. He's as good as anyone we have. We're just trying to create some separation."

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