Swinney previews rivalry game: 'Everybody is paying attention'
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney speaks to the media Tuesday.

Swinney previews rivalry game: 'Everybody is paying attention'

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney knows his team will have its hands full with a red-hot South Carolina offense Saturday.

Clemson (10-1, 8-0), currently sits as a 14.5-point favorite over the Gamecocks (7-4, 4-4) Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon on ABC.

South Carolina walloped Tennessee last weekend, scoring 63 points on its way to a victory over the Vols. Swinney, during his weekly Tuesday press conference, previewed the game and Thanksgiving week.

“I’m thankful for this team when you look at the amount of work they have put in since last January. They’re great young people who have battled their tails off all year,” he said. “This is a season unto itself now. It’s all about this week. Shane Beamer has done a great job. What a huge win for them this past week. They played their best game and we played our best game. We’re two good teams coming off big wins. Both teams have some confidence. Defensively, they have a lot of talented guys, a lot of guys we recruited throughout that defense, especially up front. They’re mostly a four-down team. They do things coverage-wise to challenge you.

“Offensively, I don't know that I've seen a team get hotter than they were last week. They made a ton of plays. Their quarterback was outstanding. Unbelievable. He was incredibly accurate. Great timing and anticipation. Their receivers really showed what they are capable of last week. They really put it together last week against a really good team. They're very experienced up front. They have a bunch of guys outside. They have played a lot of ball. Their tight end is everywhere. They have really good backs. It's a talented group. Special teams, they have been outstanding. It's been the difference for them in a couple of games for sure.”

Swinney said Clemson will need a great crowd for the early kick.

“We're excited about the week and getting back in the Valley. I hope our crowd will show up and get behind this team. I know a lot of people don't like a noon game but we need the best crowd we've ever had,” he said. “Let's have everyone ready. Get here Friday if you need to. Our focus is finishing strong and trying to play our best four quarters. There is a lot to manage this week with Thanksgiving and families in town. We want to prepare the best we can. It's a fun, fun week for everyone. All across the country it's rivalry week. Alabama-Auburn game week was always my favorite week of the year. This is my 19th Clemson-South Carolina game. Everybody is paying attention."

Swinney was asked why he embraces the rivalry more than other coaches.

"Because I grew up in Alabama. You grow up there and that's it. I've said many times, you don't leave the hospital without declaring an allegiance. They put it on your birth certificate. It was my whole life until I came to Clemson,” Swinney said. “I get it. I know how it is. I know how important it is. I've experienced every side of it. It's exactly the same at South Carolina as it is in Alabama. When I first hit the road recruiting in 2003, people didn't know me. Soon as I walked in a school, half of those people didn't like me. Coming here was a natural thing for me. It just felt normal that people don't like you. People instantly judge you because you have a logo on your shirt. That was normal to me. I've won big in these games and lost big. It's special. It means a lot to a lot of people. It never gets old."

Clemson has a chance to win its eighth in a row in the series, which would be a rivalry record.

"It doesn't matter what records are or streaks. You have to play well. They will get our best and we will get their best. It comes down to execution, though,” Swinney said. “You can't get distracted. The most fired up team isn't going to win. It's the team that executes the best. That's who wins. We've got great respect for them. I think Shane has done an amazing job. You see a team with a lot of energy and belief. We have to play well. You have to earn it."

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler threw for 438 yards and six touchdowns last week.

"He was awesome. He made some throws that you cannot defend. He made some beautiful plays, he extended some plays and his guys made a ton of plays,” Swinney said. “He's a five-star quarterback for a reason and a starter at Oklahoma for a reason. He's a really talented player. We've seen a bunch of them this year. He's definitely got all the tools. They took a lot of shots. He made some throws - max protection, they blocked them and they caught what he threw. He got the ball to their backs in the flats. He hit a third and 20 and a third and 17 on some deep crossers."

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