Swinney preparing for a special week against Louisville


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Ben Boulware tackles a Louisville runner
Ben Boulware tackles a Louisville runner

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is looking forward to this week’s game against Louisville, but only because it’s one of 12 special days during the season.

The Tigers and Cardinals will face off at 8 p.m. Saturday night in Death Valley in a battle of top five teams, and Swinney told the media during his conference call with the media that every game week is special.

“I enjoy all the weeks. I really do. You only get 12 of them, so they're all special,” Swinney said. “Some have more pizzazz than others. I enjoy every single one of them, the preparation, the process of getting ready, the finalization of game prep, the hotel, meetings, bus ride in, all of it. Any time you can play a night game here, it's always great. These are the type of games you relish having an opportunity to be a part of. They're all huge, they all count, but when you get a top five matchup, those are unique.”

The Tigers will have to contain dynamic Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, a player Swinney says might be the best in the country.

Swinney wouldn’t, however, tell how the Tigers plan to stop Jackson.

“We're not going to let out our game plan. Everyone is having a hard time for a reason,” he said. “He's special. He has probably been the best player in the country through four games. You're not dealing with just another guy. He is an elite player. We will have to play our best game to hold this guy down.”

Clemson has momentum following last Thursday’s 26-7 win at Georgia Tech.

“Very, very proud of our team and how they competed Thursday on a short week. There was a lot to get ready for, to get ready for a team like Georgia Tech and their style of play,” Swinney said. “The first half was probably as good a first half as I've been around in all phases. It was just a tremendous first half. The third quarter was weird, kind of frustrating. We only had seven snaps on offense and they had a very long drive. It was good to see our guys finish in the fourth quarter.

“Defensively it was just a dominant effort. They played very hard and dominated the line of scrimmage. Any time you can make them punt the ball eight times, you're doing some good things. Offensively, a great first half. We had two third downs in the third quarter and should have converted both. We just took what was there. There was a lot of soft coverage. A lot of the throws were run calls that led to throws.”

OTHER NOTES

Injury to Jalen Williams

“Jalen Williams, it turns out it was an MCL sprain. He will be out for a little bit. Eventually we will get him back. Players of the game were Ray-Ray McCloud on offense, Ryan Carter, Van Smith and Carlos Watkins on defense and Chad Smith on special teams. He had a huge fumble recovery on the punt return.”

Will Austin Bryant return to practice this week?

“I’m not prepared to answer that right now.”

The progression of Ray-Ray McCloud

“He has gotten better as the season has gone on. He's been much more consistent. With Hunter Renfrow getting hurt, it has opened up more opportunities for him.”

Are the players watching film on Louisville?

“Guys don't have to come in anymore. They all have IPADS. We all have that as well. It's amazing. Back in the day, you had to come in to get anything done. Now, you're never disconnected. We had some homework assignments for the staff, things that I wanted to have done by this afternoon. It was a productive couple of days for us as coaches. Today is technically their (players) off day. When they show up tomorrow, though, they will already have a pretty good notebook full of notes.”

Thoughts on the firing of Les Miles

“I was in the meeting with the defensive coaches this afternoon when the news broke. I hate it. I really do. I have a lot of respect for coach Miles. It's a crazy business. All of us as coaches know what kind of a fine line it is. Enjoy the good times when you have an opportunity to. It is a crazy business. He's coached four games and now they're moving on. It's not like he has been an average coach. He has been a great coach. I wish him the best. I think a lot of him. He has been great for LSU and the game. We played them one time and it was down to the last play. I hate it for him and his family. I've been a part of an interim situation and hopefully those guys can rebound and go on and have a good season.”

Who will play SAM with Williams out?

“We will discuss those things tomorrow as we look closer at our packages. He and Dorian O'Daniel had spent time at nickel-SAM. He played some WILL backer, too. He's the one guy who can play nickel-SAM, MIKE and WILL. We really have high regard for Jalen. It'd mean more snaps for Dorian O'Daniel going forward and you'll see other guys mixed in there like Korrin Wiggins.”

What has allowed the defense to remain dominant?

“Our staff does a great job of recruiting. To have consistency in your program, you have to recruit well. Guys leave every year, so you have to recruit really good players. When you recruit well and evaluate well and develop well, you have a chance to be consistent. Our staff has done a great job there. That's the key. We have the best defensive coordinator in the country. Brent does an incredible job along with Marion Hobby and Dan Brooks. You can't find anybody better. Mike Reed does a fantastic job for us on the back end. It's a great group and a great support staff. They take a lot of pride in what they do. Our players respond to that.”

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