WHO: Boston College (3-2, 1-1 ACC) at No. 3 Clemson (5-0, 3-0)
WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
TV: ABC, ESPN2 or ESPNU
CLEMSON — Up comes the biggest game of the season — simply because it is the next one.
It’s Dabo Swinney’s philosophy (and really, the philosophy of most coaches across many sports) to focus not on the previous opponent or the one looming a couple weeks away, but the next scheduled foe.
While No. 6 Florida State (on a bye this Saturday) gets two weeks on the field to prepare for No. 3 Clemson and two weeks off the field to talk about it, the Tigers still have the formal matter of dispatching Boston College, which at 3-2 has already exceeded last year’s victory total.
So, Swinney warns his players against thinking ahead to the Seminoles.
“If they do, we’re gonna get beat,” Swinney said on his weekly Sunday teleconference. “That’s a good football team we’re getting ready to play, and our mentality all year has been this is the biggest game of the year. It’s no different this week.”
For the second straight week and third in four games, Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) faces a rebuilding program with a new head coach. Steve Addazio is similar to Syracuse’s Scott Shafer with his hard-edged, tough-nosed demeanor, and his Eagles (3-2, 1-1) are undoubtedly improved from their dreadful 2012 with triumphs over Wake Forest and Army.
No, that’s not the same as toppling then-No. 5 Georgia, but BC has Clemson’s full attention. Or at least that of the head coach.
“We’ve got our hands full with Boston College. That’s our only objective, is to try to get to 6-0,” Swinney said, never specifically referring to Florida State in the course of his answer on the subject.
“Then we’ll get ready for the next one after that, and the next one after that. If you don’t stay focused on our formula and this opponent, you get beat. It’s that simple. I don’t anticipate that being a problem.”
Home cooking on the road
Swinney noticed the packed, proud northwest corner of the Carrier Dome cheering for Clemson throughout its 49-14 drubbing of the host Orange.
“Just want to really, really thank our fans,” Swinney said. “Thought we had a great contingency of Clemson folks that made a long trip up there, and I’m sure we had a lot that live up in that area that also made the effort to come. Really good to have some good support on the road like that.”
This was Clemson’s first football game in the state of New York.
Jenkins’ pain piling up
Martin Jenkins has become a human form of the child’s game Operation.
It was revealed in the preseason he has, as Swinney termed it, an “arthritic butt.” His shoulder popped out in the games against Georgia and Wake Forest, which is expected to hound Jenkins throughout his junior season.
And now, count two more odd injuries for the cornerback suffered against Syracuse.
“Martin Jenkins broke his thumb, played the whole second half, his tooth broke, spit his tooth out, he’s still out there playing 50-something plays,” Swinney said. “We’ve got a lot of guys like that playing through some nicks and bumps. Appreciate their effort.”
Blanks, Boulware questionable
Without further new information on the pair of hobbling defenders, safety Travis Blanks and linebacker/special teamer Ben Boulware are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game at Death Valley.
Blanks injured his PCL in his knee, and Boulware hyperextended his knee at Syracuse. Team trainers indicated neither player tore any significant ligaments, and Blanks should not need surgery.
Swinney said he’d know more about their status Wednesday.
Should Blanks sit out this weekend or thereafter, Clemson has begun grooming a replacement. Freshman Jayron Kearse has rotated in as the third safety along with Robert Smith the past two weeks.
“He’s a special talent; it’s very obvious to see. He makes mistakes, but he makes plays,” Swinney said. “He covers some things up. We’re very encouraged with Kearse.”
Before his rookie season began, Kearse was praised as rangy, physical and long by defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
“I’m pleased with a true freshman after five games, the progress he’s made. He’s not afraid to stick his hat in there,” Swinney said. “I think he’s going to be one of those special guys to come through here if he keeps coming on.”
An amazing statistic dug up by the Syracuse media: not one Orange true wide receiver recorded a catch Saturday.
Jenkins, Bashaud Breeland, Darius Robinson and Garry Peters were lauded by their coach for their cornerback play.
“Man, those guys are playing some good football for us,” Swinney said. “We knew in our keys to the game if we were going to be able to get pressure on the quarterback, we knew we were going to have to get it from the coverage standpoint.”
The Tigers recorded four sacks and four interceptions.
“We made the quarterback hold the ball,” Swinney said, “and we ended up getting four sacks, and those were coverage sacks.”