Sunday Night Update: Ngata getting closer, Etienne makes the impossible, possible

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney talks to an official during the win over Miami (Photo courtesy ACC).
Swinney talks to an official during the win over Miami (Photo courtesy ACC).

Travis Etienne makes the impossible, possible.

Clemson’s star running back was one of the stars when No. 1 Clemson defeated then-No. 7 Miami 42-17 in Death Valley Saturday in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

Clemson plays at Georgia Tech at noon on Saturday (ABC). The Tigers have opened as a 27-point favorite over the Yellow Jackets. Clemson has won six in a row in the series.

Head coach Dabo Swinney held a conference call with the media Sunday evening and the following are news and notes from the call:

*On Travis Etienne, he is as good as there has ever been. He makes incredible plays. Makes the impossible plays possible. As he has developed and matured, he has knowledge of the game and he is a complete player. As a freshman, he would break a long run every single practice but didn’t understand pass protection or how to play without the football. He has a mindset to get every single yard he can get. He is as good as he (Dabo) has ever seen. He is right there with anybody you would want to see.

*Really awesome game by the team, proud of everyone, thought they got better. A game they controlled and beat a good team, but enough mistakes to have a huge sense of urgency to get better come Monday for sure. Loved the mindset. They played with a lot of confidence. Offense set the tone in the first two drives. Had a lot of balance, really good on third down on both sides of the ball. Left a lot on the field. Some high snaps that need to be fixed. A dominant, relentless effort on defense. Great week of preparation and took it to the practice field. Stopped the run really well.

Affected the quarterback, something they were worried about coming in. As good of DB play on the ball as they’ve had in a long time. Finished on some plays with some interceptions. Fourth-down stop by James Skalski was just an awesome play by home. Biggest disappointments were the penalties and missed tackles. Some fundamental things they have to clean up. The field goal blocks were disappointing, able to win in spite of what happened on field goal. First block was on right side protection. Second one was a guard going to the ground, third was on the right side again. Thinks BT can make that long kick and had the wind. Best football still in front of them and can be a special group.

*On Trevor Lawrence and his health, Swinney said he is good and ready to roll.

*Loves the depth in the secondary. Building quality depth, and Andrew Booth has made incredible plays two consecutive weeks.

*Asked about Brent Venables, Swinney said that he has great coaches and even Tony Elliott doesn’t get enough credit. It is awesome to come to work with these guys every single day.

*LB Baylon Spector is a great preparer. He sees the game and the game has slowed down for him. He is a crafty blitzer and a sure tackler. What you see on game day is how Spector and Skalski practice every single day. Proud of the leadership that this bunch is setting for the guys behind them.

*WR Joseph Ngata (abdominal injury) is close. He looked good in pregame warmups but wouldn’t quite cut it loose so they held him. He hopes he will be ready to go this week. He is going to be a superstar. He is a special talent and one of the hardest workers they have. They will get him rolling.

*Getting Xavier Thomas on the field – they wouldn’t have put him in the game unless they were in control. It worked out. Perfect situation to get him out there and it was a perfect next step for him. The next step for him is to be full go in practice for an entire week and keep progressing.

*Had a lot of different pressures they were bringing from the backers and trying to cover the gaps and get the push in the pocket, and Tyler Davis made a couple of just gritty plays where he had two guys on him and he comes off and makes the play. Finds the running back in the trash. Bryan Bresee is a bull in a china shop and disrupts everything.

*LT Walker Parks graded out really well. He said he is proud of that young buck. Glad they were able to get some snaps for these younger players. Parks is ahead of the curve when it comes to the mentality of what it takes to prepare week in and week out. Much like Jackson Carman was when he came in and backed up Mitch Hyatt. No hesitation at all in putting Parks in the game.

*Says Georgia Tech is much-improved and playing with a lot of confidence. The quarterback is making some plays and playing with a lot of confidence. They have energy and confidence on defense.

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