Wednesday Practice Insider: Tigers getting healthy, but lose valuable receiver


by - Senior Writer -
Joseph Ngata had surgery Wednesday.
Joseph Ngata had surgery Wednesday.

Dabo Swinney’s football team is hungry. Yes, Thanksgiving is Thursday and everyone will hopefully have a good meal to eat. But Swinney’s group is hungry to play football.

Swinney met with the media following Wednesday’s practice and said his team is itching to play Saturday.

“This team is ready to play. Hungry to play,” Swinney said. "They fought for their season and the opportunity to play, and hopefully they get that opportunity Saturday.”

Pitt (5-4, 4-4 ACC) takes on Clemson (7-1, 6-1 ACC) at 3:30 pm Saturday in Death Valley on ESPN. The Panthers started out 3-0, endured a four-game losing streak, and now has won two in a row after last Saturday’s domination of Virginia Tech on Senior Day. Clemson is a 24-point favorite over the Panthers.

Other notes from the interview session

*He says it is still weird that Clemson won’t be playing South Carolina Saturday. He said it’s been the norm since he was 18 that you play your in-state rival on Thanksgiving.

*Swinney says the Tigers are as healthy as they have been in five or six weeks. He says they are as close to full strength as they’ve been since the first game of the season.

*Wide receiver Joseph Ngata had surgery this morning and will be out for the regular season. Has had an abdominal injury and tried to play through the pain. They hope this will alleviate the pain and get him ready for the postseason.

*When you watch Pitt play, you have to have respect for how they play the game. They play tough and with relentless effort. They attack on both sides of the ball. They attack you defensively and force you into tight coverage. They refuse to let you run the ball. Offensively, they have changed since 2016 and throw it all over the place. The quarterback, Kenny Picket, is calm in the pocket.

*For Senior Day, the plan is to introduce the players and have the family recognized on the Jumbotron and then once the game is over and everyone is out of the stadium, the parents will come down to the field to take pictures.

*The team will have dinner tonight, practice early Thursday and will break earlier than they normally would. They will have food after that and then some players will go home and some will go to coaches’ houses.

*Defensive end Justin Foster, who has been out all season with an undisclosed condition, has made a lot of progress, and Swinney is “hopeful” he will be able to play this season. The silver lining is that he can return next season and this can turn into a positive. Dabo reminds us that Cornell Powell had to redshirt his third season and has led to this breakout season.

*On centralizing the playoff to one location, Swinney said he wants his team to get there before he will answer that question.

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