Swinney ready for "Christmas Morning"

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney said he would love to be able to scrimmage another program in the preseason

CLEMSON – The 2010 season opener is just a little over 10 days away, and Clemson’s Sept. 4th game against North Texas will be like Christmas morning for head coach Dabo Swinney, who said that day will be the day he and Tiger nation finally get to “see what we’ve got.”

The Tigers held a scrimmage during Tuesday afternoon’s practice, and on Wednesday will turn their attention to North Texas and begin game-planning for the Mean Green and the opener, a point that Swinney said the coaches and players work all year to reach.

“You work all year for this,” he said Tuesday. “It’s not about just how you come out to practice, it’s how you meet, how you run your program, how you talk to them and develop them as young men. All of the things that go into coming together as team, to finally get to gameday. You work all year for those 12 Saturdays.

“It’s like Christmas morning, and we get to wake up and see what we’ve got and where we are with this deal. You’ve got to get started some time, and we’ll have our ups and downs, just like every other team. But until you go play, it’s hard to see where we are and what we have to do to get better.”

Swinney said that until he sees the Tigers actually strap it on and go play someone else, it’s hard to tell the exact personality of a team, but he did say he already has a pretty good idea what Tiger fans can expect this season.

“This is a hard-nosed, blue collar bunch that really like each other and like to play the game,” he said. “They are coachable, they practice well and they appreciate each other. Those are good ingredients to have, and we have enough talent to compete. If they are a smart football team like I hope they will be, they we will have a chance to be a good football team and win a lot of ballgames, because winning is important to them.”

If the Tigers are to make a return trip to the ACC Championship Game and contend for an ACC title, however, Swinney said he will have to see more out of the backups.

“We can’t beat ourselves, and most of that has been coming from the backups,” he said. “We have to find more dependable depth. I keep saying over and over and over, we have to find a few more guys out of that second-tier group, that are absolutely talented enough, but that it’s just flat out important to them to get the job done and be accountable and dependable, and not let their coaches and teammates down. We have to have that depth to sustain the schedule that we have, and there are still a few guys that have work to do.”

Many families prefer to open some Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, and Swinney that just like those families, he would love the chance to get an early peek at what kind of team he has.

“I wish we had some preseason games or something,” he said. “At some point, you get tired of looking at each other, you know each other’s stuff, and it’s good for both sides to look at who you are going to play. It creates some energy, and you can go and prepare for this guy or that guy and for what he is doing.”

Swinney said that he would welcome the opportunity to scrimmage a Georgia or a Furman, some team that he would not face later in the season, but doesn’t know the reason that colleges have never embraced the concept.

“I don’t know the answer to that one,” he said. “I am sure there is a reason for it, but nobody’s told me what that is. They do it in the pros, and they do it in high school. We are the only ones that don’t do it. It would be nice to have a preseason scrimmage or something like that. It would give you something to work toward, and kind of give you a gauge before that first ballgame, where you are just not going against each other and putting all of your guys at risk every single snap. When you scrimmage each other, everything you have invested is at risk every single play.”

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