Swinney speaks at ACC Kickoff Meetings

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney said the Tigers will treat Parker like a senior this season

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney looked relaxed and confident at the ACC Kickoff Meetings on Monday, but said that answering the same questions over and over, especially about the return of quarterback Kyle Parker, were getting tiresome.

“I think that the over-under on the number of times I get that asked is at 70,” Swinney said as he took his place at the table. “I have a guy that’s been following me around that was keeping tabs on that.”

Swinney then said that after a soap opera-like summer, he will be glad when August 3rd rolls around and he can get back to what he enjoys – coaching football.

“Yes, all this other stuff is just clutter,” he said. “It’s great, and it’s necessary, and I know there are so many things that come with being in this role. But this is the best time of the year. I love being on a structured routine, and being around the players every day. I love that.

“We are limited by the rules on when we can and can’t do things with the players, so I am ready to get back out on the field, and get back into meetings, and get them back into a normal routine. I love it when I see guys emerge, and start answering questions you have. If I have to see another tractor pull in July, or hear another vuvuzela – I don’t want to see another one of those.”

The Tigers were picked to finish second in the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division, behind Florida St., and received just 16 first-place votes compared to 78 for the Seminoles, and Swinney said that was how would have voted.

“That is probably how I would have voted, as far as the leaders,” Swinney said. “FSU has an outstanding team coming back, and they have a veteran offense with a proven quarterback, and they have good tools to put around him. I definitely think they will be better, and we have to go down there, and that will be a tough game late in the season for us and them.

“But you have to remember that stuff like this is all in fun – I don’t pay attention to it at all. I don’t know who was picked to finish first last year, but I remember who did. I am more interested in who won it. Hopefully, our team remembers that as well. What matters is how you finish, not what people think in July.”

Swinney mentioned that if Parker had not returned, the Clemson coaches were looking at “catastrophe” plans.

"With just two guys [on scholarship], we were looking at our roster trying to figure out who all has played quarterback in high school and trying to come up with a catastrophe plan," Swinney said. "You lose a quarterback or two, and then what?"

However, Parker has returned, and Swinney said it not only helps Clemson, it improves Parker as well, especially where the NFL is concerned.

"This is a good situation for him because now, [NFL] scouts can evaluate him,” Swinney said. “He's got another hopefully 14 games this season to play. And so let's just say he goes and plays baseball for a couple of years, and maybe he can't hit the curveball. Football is a much more viable option for him to go back to, because now the scouts have a lot of data. A lot of quarterbacks don't have 27-plus games in their career.

"So he has a chance to have good film and to be truly evaluated. I don't think any NFL scout was evaluating Kyle Parker last year. Whereas this year, I think they'll look at the situation a little bit differently."

The head coach then said that the Tigers will treat Parker like a senior this season.
"We wouldn't typically do that with an underclassman, but I think this situation warrants that,” he said. “We'll put him out there; he's obviously a proven leader of our team. The guys are fired up. And he's 20 years old."

Redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd spent most of the summer preparing to be the starter, and Swinney was asked if Parker’s return would hurt Boyd’s development, and he compared it to the situation that running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper faced last season.

"Everybody had C.J. gone, and those guys were ready to be the guy," Swinney said. "They could almost taste it. And all of a sudden C.J. is coming back. They have to kind of step back and say, 'OK, here's my role another year. And let's do the best we can with it.'"

Swinney then said that Parker’s return means the coaches won’t have to force-feed Boyd – likening the process to putting a fire house in his mouth and just turning it on - but cautioned that Boyd won’t be the typical back-up this season, and he said the Clemson coaches will prepare the freshman like he will be the starter for every game.

"I think he is good. All young people want to be “the guy” and think they are ready for it. It's going to be critical that every chance we get to play him in meaningful situations and not just throw him in there and take a knee," Swinney said. "I'm talking about get him as many meaningful reps as we can. Obviously, without jeopardizing your team, we've got to do that. We've got to get him as much experience as we can this year, no question.

"We've got to feel like when this season is over, it's like Andre Ellington or Jamie Harper - a guy that's gotten seasoned and has gotten some meaningful time under center. When it’s over, Tajh can look back on this situation and realize how good it was for him and how much he has matured.”

The one offensive player was Swinney was asked about most often – other than Parker and Boyd – was tight end Dwayne Allen, and Swinney said that the sky is the limit for sophomore from Fayetteville.

“There is no limit on him – he is his only limitation,” Swinney said. “He is as talented as any player you will ever see at tight end. He is physical, he can run, and he has matured a lot since he arrived at Clemson. He learned a tremendous amount from Michael Palmer. He has more talent in his pinky finger than Michael does in his whole body – but Michael was a better football player.

“I think Dwayne kind of took a step back and said ‘why is he a better player than me. I can run faster, jump higher, I have more muscles.’ I think he realized he needed to study more, and be more consistent at practice. He had a great spring and a great summer. He is big-time special. Don’t tell him I said that, because I don’t want him to know I said that.”

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