Swinney using the media to fuel Clemson's 2017 run

by - Staff Writer -
Swinney talks to the Thursday at the ACC Kickoff
Swinney talks to the Thursday at the ACC Kickoff

CHARLOTTE, NC – The media has made Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s job of motivating his team a lot easier. Why? Because they like to dwell on the players that Clemson lost rather than the ones who will attempt to make a third consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Swinney spoke to the media Thursday at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte, and he dutifully smiled every time he was asked a question about the personnel losses suffered on offense and defense. He patiently answered questions about replacing talent like Deshaun Watson and Jordan Leggett and Mike Williams.

Every question, every seed of doubt the media throws his way is extra motivation.

“To be honest, Y'all have really helped me out a ton. Y’all have made it easy because all spring and all summer everybody just talks about the guys that are gone, so that really, to me, creates a great hunger for a lot of these kids that I’ve got,” Swinney said. “I think it gives us a great edge. We’ve got a lot of guys sitting in the back of the room going, ‘Hey, you know what? I was recruited, too.’ They’re eager to go prove that they’re ready to go take that next step and have that big role.

"I haven’t been asked about a lot of my current players, to be honest with you. I’ve been asked a lot about how we’re going to replace the guys who left, not much about Mitch Hyatt or Deon Cain or Kendall Joseph, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell. Nobody has really asked about those guys. Nobody has asked about Greg Huegel."

Swinney said people forget that he has a junior-led team that has played for two national championships.

“It really hasn’t been very hard to find motivation. We start over and we’re fortunate that we’ve got good leadership,” Swinney said. “We’ve only got six seniors on scholarship but we’ve got 27 juniors on scholarship and those 27 guys have played in 30 games in two years and in two national championships - won one and lost one - so they understand what it takes. We’re really relying on that group and then we’ve got a good group of sophomores 22 of those guys, so we’re really counting on those guys plus the seniors to lead the young guys that are kind of coming in, some of those guys that redshirted last year that we’re expecting to help us out.”

It’s all about starting over.

“The biggest thing is we start over. When we go out to mat drills at 5:30 in the morning in February, there’s nobody in there patting us on the back about, ‘Oh, good job, you won the national championship.’ It’s just competing and getting after it,” he said. “You don’t do that and go through that unless you’re really committed. Then we just start over and we re-evaluate and everything. We’ll have our big coaches’ meetings here next week and we’ll go through the program as if nobody knows anything about it and they all just fell out of the sky to get here to make sure that we all understand who we are and what it takes. I think we’ve done a good job from that standpoint. Our leaders have done a great job.”

Swinney finished by saying it was time to concentrate on the players that are still on campus and will be the driving force on the road back to the title game.

“You’ve got a guy like Justin Falcinelli and nobody is asking me about our center. He’s a fourth-year junior who had a great spring and we’re really excited about him. You look at our three running backs. We’ve got three really good backs and people are still talking about Wayne Gallman,” he said. “These guys are eager because they had a role on our team last year, but now these roles are going to be bigger for a lot of these guys and there’s an excitement and a sense of urgency that I really, really like because of they all have their own individual goals as well. We hold them accountable and we go through the steps in our program and when it comes time to play we’ll be ready. It’s not any different than it was last year. We’re going to control what we can control. We’re going to prepare our tails off every week to play our best game that we can possibly play and if we do that for 12 weeks, when it’s all said and done I’ll think we’ll get more good results than not.”

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