Tigers dealing with injuries, but Swinney says ‘they remember November’

Swinney says everyone remembers how you played in November.

by David Hood

Senior Writer

CLEMSON – Injuries are starting to be a factor in Clemson’s secondary as the Tigers prepare to face Miami this weekend.

Head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media Tuesday morning to discuss the state of the program heading into Saturday’s matchup against Miami, the last ACC matchup of the regular season. The game is set for a 3:30 pm broadcast start on ESPN.

“Another great opportunity for us this week. It’s always a big week. We bounced back last weekend. It’s Senior Day this weekend,” Swinney said. “We want to honor our seniors who have invested a lot of time in our program. Some guys graduate in three years, some in five. Some get two degrees. It takes a lot of commitment to be able to finish in our program and in all areas. It’s always a special week for the parents as well.”

Miami is 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the ACC, but Swinney said the Hurricanes can’t be overlooked.

“We want to stay on track this week, but there’s another big challenge. Miami has a big win over Georgia Tech coming in,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns about Miami. They have played three quarterbacks. They’ve got good running backs. They’re long on the edge. They have a couple of big receivers. Obviously, we know Frank Ladson. They involve their tight ends.

“Defensively, this is a fast, athletic, group. That’s what you think of when you think about Miami. They are aggressive and multiple with their coverages. They are mostly a four-down front. They’re big, strong, athletic, and can run. They have some really good experience in their secondary. We have to play well. They also lead the nation in kickoff return.

“They have a new coach, and they’re working their way back. We’ll need a great crowd again. I thought our crowd was a big difference for us last weekend. For us, we need to play our best game. We want momentum and a great fourth quarter to our year. We’re looking to clean up mistakes and obviously we need better ball security.”

Swinney said Miami is difficult to prepare for.

“All you can do is study the tape. Mario (Cristobal) is trying to build a program. That’s his No. 1 priority as opposed to what their record is,” he said. “Obviously, they want to win every game. But there are decisions you make in year one that might affect a game here or there, but when you take over a job, you are where you are. You don’t just wave a magic wand and do it.

“He has proven to be very successful in building a program. They’ve got players, though. You see the progression of what they’re trying to build. They have Dan Radakovich … the fighting Radakovichs. He’s a great AD. Mario was successful at Alabama and at Oregon. He has a great staff. This team has some dudes, now. Make no mistake.”

Safety Tyler Venables strained his hamstring when he slipped on the plastic sideline sheeting last week, and defensive back Malcolm Greene is headed for surgery.

“Beaux (Collins) was back in practice yesterday. We are working him back in. He’s day to day,” Swinney said. “Tyler Venables is definitely out. Trenton Simpson is day-to-day. The guy who will be out is Malcolm Greene. He has been battling a groin injury. He has to have that lateral release done, so they’re going to go ahead and do that. Greene is done (out for the season). Xavier’s (Thomas) surgery went well, and he’s doing well. Kobe Pace was ready to play last week. He wasn’t quite 100 percent, and not many are 100 percent this time of year. We just held him last week because of where we were in the game. He got off to a good start last night. He’ll be ready to play.”

Swinney said Venables doesn’t need surgery, just time to heal.

With the Hurricanes looming, Swinney said his team has to stay focused.

“You tell them the stove is hot. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes you have to get burned and then you listen,” he said. “Last week, they managed failure well. Now they have to manage success well and stay focused. You have to bring the mentality today. It’s all about today. That’s all we’ve got. We say win the day. You win the day by being in the now. You can’t be in yesterday or tomorrow. You have a choice, too. You have a choice to do something today.

“You’re free to make that choice, but you’re not free from the consequences. Today is a full pad day. You freaking show up and get better and try to win the day. You do it every day and then take it to game day. It shouldn’t matter who you play when you play, or what the weather is. If those things matter, then you’re inconsistent.”

He then said the Tigers have to finish well.

“It’s all about the way you finish. They remember November,” he said. “It’s all about how you finish. Lose these next two games; everyone forgets you were 9-1. We’ve got some teams in the playoff picture who lost badly early, but all everyone talks about is what they’re doing now. You want to be at your best this time of the year. Most teams grow weary. The great ones grow stronger.

“We want to get hot and play our best ball. We have a lot of lessons we have learned. We have a lot of information. Information without application gets no transformation. We want to play our best ball in the fourth quarter. We have been a great fourth-quarter team for years around here. Let’s put the season away.”

As the season winds down, there are a few players the coaches have been saving (who can play but still redshirt).

Cole Turner. We’ve been holding him. This kid is going to be a great player. These three freshmen receivers, I’m really excited about them,” Swinney said. “It’s going to be fun to coach them in the coming years. We’ve saved Cole all season. You’ll see him start to play some down the stretch a little, special teams and at receiver. We have some guys who have played three games that we’d like to hold like

“Robert Gunn. I thought TJ Dudleywe have maybe two more games with him. Collin Sadler, same thing. We’re going to hold him (to redshirt). We have two more games with him.”


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