Swinney excited to see Watkins in action Saturday

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CLEMSON – Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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saw wide receiver Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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Monday morning as his team began preparations for this week’s home game against Furman, and he had a simple message for his star player – don’t mess up the good thing the Tigers have going on offense.

Watkins was suspended for the first two games of the season, and Swinney said Watkins was excited to get back on the field.

“He's excited. He really is,” Swinney told the media during his Tuesday press conference “He's had such a great attitude and he's such a great example on how to lead the right way. I told him yesterday we are 2-0 Sammy, don't mess it up. I would think you see him pretty early and have him show up pretty soon. He needs to play a good bit. He needs to get that good game under his belt like these guys have gotten. It was good to have him last week on the sideline.”

Swinney wouldn’t say how many touches he thinks Watkins will get against the Paladins.

“We keep a touch chart on the sideline and it's something I pay attention to by the quarter,” he said.” It's usually not an issue. He's usually in the forefront of all of our thoughts. He's a special player. And he's going to return punts and kicks and do everything.”

Swinney said that Watkins has been busy despite the suspension, even spending time with the scout team.

“Oh yeah. He's been great,” Swinney said. “He worked the work before game week and then game week. He worked two weeks of the scout team before Auburn. He's doing good. Knows his stuff. Very smart player. That's why he had such great success early. “

Plus, he had the support of his teammates.

“All of his teammates in general,” Swinney said. “These guys support each other. It's a family. My family, your family, we all have issues. Sometimes you don't like what people's decisions were but you love them anyway and you try to help them through it. Really hasn't been a distraction at all.”

Watkins will not only see time at wide receiver, but also in the return game, although Swinney said it looked doubtful the Tigers would be able to return a punt.

“I don' know how much he's going to mean to punt return because we can't ever get a return,” he said. “There are few returns in the game today. You don't get many opportunities. When he gets one it will mean a lot. Same thing on kick returns. I doubt many people will purposefully kick it to him. If they do, we'll have a chance for a big play. He'll have a little more rope to where he can bring it out.”

Swinney said that he isn’t making any plans to rest any of his star players early, citing the Tigers’ struggles with Wofford last season.

“Well that would be great, but we are coming to win,” he said. “If it works out and that happens, great. You can't go into any game assuming that. We were hoping to rest some guys against Wofford last year too and how did it work out? This is a big deal for Furman and to have an opportunity to play in Death Valley. It's a big deal. Furman is well-coached just like Wofford was and it was all we wanted and then some. I'd be surprised if Furman really doesn't give us a challenge. They are going to play us with a ton of toughness and a ton of pride. We have to play well. “

The Paladins are 0-2 – including a triple overtime loss to Coastal Carolina last weekend – but Swinney said they are still a dangerous foe.

“I'm very impressed when you watch them on tape,” he said. “I have a ton of respect for Coach Fowler. I know they are 0-2, but if you watch the games they could easily be 2-0. There was a hard-fought loss at Samford, and then a tough triple overtime loss to Coastal Carolina. They've turned it over quite a bit. It's a football team that is quite capable. Offensively they want to run the ball. They do a lot of stuff. They went to Florida the last game of the season and put up 35 points on them.

“They used the triple option and put up a lot of offense. There's a lot of things we have to prepare for in this game. They do want to run the ball. Look forward to that matchup and that challenge. Their defense is an athletic group. More athletic than Ball State. They have eight starters back on defense and seven back that are seniors. Very experienced group over there. They know what they are doing. We have to play well.”

On Giff Timothy and David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS So. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 315
Columbus, GA

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“I'm pretty optimistic with those guys for this weekend. I'll be able to give you a better update tomorrow night. I was pretty optimistic yesterday.”

On keeping focus despite FSU being the next week

“Well that's something we can't just address now. That's something we have to address in the offseason when you are meeting with your guys. They have to be able to focus today. We have to win today. Today's Tuesday. We have to win today. We get this segment of the gameplan down then we move on. We talk a lot about not looking ahead. When you do, you falter. We can't do that. I'm sure there were a lot of people that expected us to be flat last week or whatever. But we've matured. That's why you have leadership. It's key. That has to keep the focus on the task at hand. You only have 12 Saturdays. “

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