Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry? Swinney looks ahead to Yellow Jackets

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney says the Tigers have faced different flavors of the option attack this season
Swinney says the Tigers have faced different flavors of the option attack this season

CLEMSON – Chocolate, vanilla and now strawberry?

Those are all ice cream flavors, but head coach Dabo Swinney equates those flavors to the three option teams Clemson has faced – and will face this weekend in Georgia Tech.

Both Furman and Georgia Southern run a variation of the option, but Swinney said Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack is a completely different flavor, run with ACC caliber athletes.

"I'd be crazy to tell you it hasn't helped. We've had to spend a lot of practice time defending them,” Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. “Now, all option teams are not the same. Furman and Georgia Southern are different. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry – it's all ice cream, but they're different flavors in how they go about it. Georgia Tech. This is an ACC football team. They have some really talented players who are playing at a high level. And Paul is as good as it gets when it comes to having answers to what you do. They've got good film on us and how we defend some things, too."

The game between Clemson and Georgia Tech serves as the Tigers’ ACC opener – key contest if Swinney’s team wants to contend for its fourth consecutive ACC title.

"Seven years in a row we've opened up conference play on the road. It's a challenge. To win the division, you have to win on the road. There are no mulligans,” Swinney said. “They all count. They're all huge. This is also one of the better rivalries in this conference. Just a lot at stake. The first quarter of our season is over. We have a lot of improving to do, coaches and players. We're excited about kicking off the second quarter.”

The Tigers have won three in a row against the Yellow Jackets – but broke a streak of loses in Atlanta two years ago – so Swinney knows that despite Tech’s 1-2 record, Saturday will be a challenge.

"We haven't had a ton of success in Atlanta. We have a unique opportunity. We will get a tremendous effort from our guys,” Swinney said. “Hopefully, we will play our best game. We want to apply the lessons we've learned this week. Let's get better. That's what I'm looking for. We are off to a good start. Good meetings the last two days. They were locked in at practice last night. It's amazing how the days just start clicking and here we are in game four. We're also trying to enjoy the journey.

"Georgia Tech is a good team. I know they're 1-2. People make mistakes by looking at their record. It doesn't work that way. There are no easy outs. They're one of the most difficult teams you will play. We know that because we play them every year. It's a stressful week. South Florida is a good team. There were some crazy plays in that game. They scored late. It could have gone either way. Same thing at Pitt. Another one-score game. They're back at home, and they have an opportunity to play us, so we know we have a huge task. Paul Johnson does as good a job as anybody getting his guys ready to play.

Defensively, Clemson will need to play with great discipline.

"Defensively they have a good scheme. Offensively they've played two quarterbacks, and both are dangerous. They're throwing the ball about 17 times a game,” he said. “They've hit some huge plays. When they complete one, it's usually a big chunk play. It's a challenge for us to be disciplined defensively. You can't get bored doing your job when you don't have a lot of action on the back end. You have to stay locked in. We have to win up front, take on cut-blocks and not let guys get to the second level.”

And, on offense, Swinney wants to see Clemson take care of the ball, especially after the three turnovers against Georgia Southern last weekend.

"Offensively, for us, we need to get back to taking care of the ball,” he said. “If we do a good job with that and win the margin, good things can happen for us. A lot of positives going on, a lot to build on as we get into this next phase of our journey."

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