Swinney kicks off the season with golf outing, media day

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney talks to the media prior to the golf outing

Dabo Swinney golf outing comments (MP3)

SUNSET, SC – Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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met briefly with the media Tuesday afternoon, and said that he thinks he and his coaching staff are as excited as the fans to get the season started.

Swinney and Clemson’s assistant coaches met with the media Tuesday at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, the unofficial start of the 2013 season for both the media and the coaches.

“I’ve already talked to our coaches and I know they are excited,” Swinney said. “But this is a chance for us to get back in that mode, not just for you guys but for us as coaches as well.”

Swinney said he understands the excitement that surrounds his program heading into the season.

“I think every year this time of year is just genuine excitement from coaches and players and fans,” he said. “Let’s face it – we live in the South and people love college football. I miss it. It is my favorite time of year. It is the easiest time of the year for me because of the structure that comes with it. So I look forward to the season and I look forward to being with the players every day. That is the best part of this job – just being around them and watching them grow and mature. So it is exciting to kick it off and get started, and then throw in the fact that we are opening with a team like Georgia and it just throws more fuel on that fire. It has been a fun spring and summer. The reports I have gotten are that our guys have worked really hard and I am ready to get out there and evaluate them.”

He was asked if opening with an opponent like Georgia – much like opening with Auburn in the Georgia Dome a year ago – makes it easier to keep the players focused during fall camp.

“Every game is huge and every opening game presents challenges. In this sense, the fact that we were able to play in an environment like the Georgia Dome added more focus to the task at hand,” he said. “We have a lot of guys back that can draw on that experience that they had. I thought our guys handled that well and they will have to be that way this year. You can’t get caught up in all of the type of things that come with a game like this.”

The unquestioned leader of the offense is quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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, and Swinney said having the fifth-year senior around is like having an extra coach.

“Tajh is functioning at a higher level now. His game management, his leadership ability and all of those things are special when you have a third-year starter,” Swinney said. “Obviously, this is a first for me and everything is different. Our conversations are different than they were three years ago. When you talk to him and see how he interacts with the players and in the game-planning it is just different with a three-year starter.”

Defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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is back for his second season, and Swinney said the difference between where the defense is now as compared to a year ago is “night and day.”

“We had so many new faces and had lost so many key players that we had lost from the year before,” he said. “But did they improve? The answer is yes. They carried that over into the spring and summer and they have all had their noses bloodied. People haven’t been very complimentary of them. We were a very average defense last year, but I feel like things have changed and defense will be a strength for us. Especially in the front seven. That is where it all starts. I think we finally have that right combination up front of depth, talent and experience and now they have to go do it and they have to do it consistently.”

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