Fuel tank: Swinney hopes Tigers have low fuel light after State
|Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 7:30 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Dabo Swinney was all about a full tank of fuel Wednesday evening, whether it was how much left in the tank at the end of last season, how much will be left at the end of this season and making sure his team empties the tank this weekend as the team heads into a much-needed open date.
The first half of Clemson’s season has been difficult and unorthodox with late night games, Thursday games and Friday games, but now Swinney and his team can get in a rhythm after the off week, but there’s one last challenge.
Clemson and N.C. State will face off at high noon Saturday in Death Valley for first place in the ACC Atlantic, and Swinney told the media after Wednesday’s practice that he is thankful for the placement of this year’s off week – the open date came early last season.
“It was ten straight counting the championship game and it was a grind. It really was,” Swinney said after Wednesday’s practice. “I was proud of that team last year because we were low on fuel but had just enough to get to our destination. We were low, that's for sure. It was a long grind and we were top heavy on defense as far as the separation of our depth. We're built differently this year, for sure, and then the break, it's coming at a good time, but nobody wants to go into an open date with a loss.”
Swinney said his team isn’t looking past the 4-1 Wolfpack and ahead to the open date and then a date with Florida St. at the end of the month.
“For us, in the back their minds I think they know we're where we want to be and it's homecoming and this game has a lot of juice to it,” he said. “You have two undefeated teams (in conference) and only one team is going to control their destiny after Saturday and those two teams both do but they have to play each other, so it's a great opportunity and they understand that. There's no question, let's just empty our tank this week. Let's let it all go and don't leave anything in there and we'll fuel back up over the next few weeks and get ready for a strong finish. They're definitely looking forward to the break and I am too. You get going in July as coaches and it's like you look up after you get in such a rhythm and it's hard to believe that we're going into game seven already.
“It goes fast, it really does, but it is nice when you get that break to be able to get a head start on the next opponent, to get guys healthy, to re-visit some things, to really dive in and do some really good self-scout - not that you don't do it every week - but you can just take a look at each other and cross over and spend a little more time helping each other. We'll do a little more of that type of stuff next week, but it's all about being locked in and trying to play our best game this week. That's all we're focused on this week.”
“I expect Mike (Williams) to play. I think (Hunter) Renfrow will hopefully get some time this week. I expect both of those guys to play. Jalen (Williams), I expect him to play. Austin (Bryant), all of those guys should play this week.”
Has the team been fortunate on the injury front?
“I guess so. For the most, I would think so. We've been very fortunate, but you all know you're a rolled ankle away from impacting your team one way or another. We've been fortunate. Our training staff deserves a lot of credit for that. Our strength coaches and the way we condition our guys and then the way we practice. These guys have learned how to practice against each other, but we've been very fortunate. You've got to have a little bit of luck like that to have a special season, there's no doubt about it.”
Plan for the open date
“They'll be off on Sunday and then we'll come back in here and practice Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday, we'll meet and have community service day. I think we're going to Greenville this year for our community service and then they'll have the weekend off - Friday and Saturday and then everybody will get back on Sunday and we'll have a normal week of preparation. It's good for everybody to have that little break, but that will be their schedule.”