CLEMSON -- Dabo Swinney doesn't anticipate much trouble in having his Tigers avoid a take-for-granted mindset against Middle Tennessee State in the season opener Sept. 5. Still, Swinney has already placed not-so-subtle reminders around the West Zone complex stating goal No. 1 is to win the opener.
Though Middle Tennessee State sounds like an typical, small-conference opponent, fodder for an opening, quasi-preseason game, the Blue Raiders are coached by former Clemson assistant Rick Stockstill, whose staff has plenty of ties to Clemson.
Stockstill's staff features nine former Clemson staff members.
"This is a civil war," Swinney said. "Pick up a media guide and everybody either went to Clemson or played at Clemson. The equipment guy is from Clemson, a video guy from Clemson, a GA from Clemson. There are a bunch of them."
Clemson began preparing for Middle Tennessee State "several days ago" Swinney said. Swinney said Tuesday's practice was "was a more physical, contact-heavy, hitting-type day. We needed another day where we really got after it."
Clemson will likely turn its full attention back to Middle Tennessee State before Saturday's final scrimmage. The Blue Raiders' offense features four- and five-receiver sets, which the Tigers are not accustomed to seeing.
"Our guys don't see that in practice," Swinney said. "You have to really prepare for a lot more than you are going to see."
Making early-season matters more difficult will be the short turnaround to play Georgia Tech's triple option Sept. 10. Swinney is doing what he can to avoid a look-beyond of the Sun Belt Conference team, which finished 5-7 overall last season.
"(Stockstill) will have them ready to play," Swinney said. "He'll have them sky high believing they can win. They beat Maryland (last season); that's all they have to tell them."
Swinney said backup quarterback Willy Korn will play early in some games and said he has handled losing the starting quarterback competition with grace.
"He's been tremendous," Swinney said. "If it was possible for him to come in here and work harder, he's done it."
Swinney has talked about playing the entire second-string offense or defense for a series at times, but said he probably would not do that early in the season.
Swinney was not happy with Tuesday's practice and believes some camp malaise might be affecting the team. ... Linebacker Scotty Cooper has had his left wrist/thumb in a small cast for two weeks but has played through the injury and is gradually making improvement.