Swinney says it will take "mental toughness" to win at Syracuse


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says the Tigers have a challenge this week.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says the Tigers have a challenge this week.

CLEMSON – Top-ranked Clemson has won the first two home games of the season but takes to the road Saturday to play Syracuse, and head coach Dabo Swinney is excited about the challenge.

The Orange defeated Clemson in the Carrier Dome two years ago – starting quarterback Kelly Bryant was knocked out of the game early – and the Tigers used a late drive to defeat the Syracuse a year ago in Death Valley.

"Excited about the challenge this week and taking this team on the road. Obviously, we have not done that yet," Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. "We've had two good opponents here in the Valley. Excited about how our team as improved to his point but we still have a long way to go. Definitely off to a good start. We're 2-0 and that's where we wanted to be. We have a lot of improving to do if we want to get where we want to get to. The next goal for us is to win the division, so that start this week.

"First division game for us, on the road at a place where we lost two years ago, great environment. They do an awesome job up there and we're going to have to play well. It's as simple as that."

Swinney said there is no doubt the Tigers respect the Orange.

"We've got a lot of respect for Syracuse. They beat us two years ago and then last year had us on the mat for a two count," he said. "We were able to get up and be able to find a way to win the game. Very fortunate. I have a lot of respect for Syracuse. Our team has a lot of respect for Syracuse. Dino has done a great job up there. We're very well aware of the type of effort, energy, toughness that we will face in this Syracuse team."

Syracuse lost 63-20 at Maryland last week, but Swinney knows the Tigers will get the Orange’s best shot.

“Last week's game got away from them but that won't be the version of Syracuse that we'll see. We're excited about the challenge,” he said. “It's the next step for us. If we're going to be a great team then you have to be able to win on the road. It takes mental toughness. It takes maturity. It takes a lot of discipline and focus and communication to be able to execute offensively, especially. Defensively, it's quiet so it's a different deal when they go on the road. The defense takes that energy so it's different on the road. Just maturity and mental toughness to go and really execute at a high level in a tough environment. That's what we're looking for this week.”

He then said the Orange have playmakers all over the field.

“They've got a good team. Obviously, their quarterback (Tommy DeVito) is a veteran guy. He's been around and he knows their system,” Swinney said. "He's athletic, he can throw the football, he's confident, he's got good size. They've rotated three backs in there and all of them can make plays. Got good receivers. No. 86 has made a couple of big plays early.

“Defensively, two All-American ends that are going to play on Sunday, no doubt about it. A couple of All-American candidates in the secondary. One of their better d-tackles has been out and I'm not sure if he's going to play this week. It's going to be a tough matchup, simple as that. This is a division game and everybody knows what's at stake. We know a lot about them. They know a lot about us. It comes down to execution in a tough environment. Looking forward to heading up there. We're healthy. We're in a good place. Guys are excited about continuing to get better.”

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