Tigers welcome bye week
CLEMSON -- When Clemson's schedule was released, Dabo Swinney was disappointed with the bye week placed so early in the season. On Monday, the Clemson coach said it turns out the idle time could not have come at a better time.
After a physical contest at Auburn, Clemson needs several starters to return to complete health, namely quarterback Kyle Parker, for its Oct. 2 showdown against Miami. The Hurricanes are perhaps the most talented team in the ACC and travel to play Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Luckily for Clemson (2-1), Parker does not have any broken ribs. Swinney said Parker had negative X-ray results, but will be limited in practice this week as he rests with a back bruise. The Tigers also received good news on guard David Smith who returned negative X-ray results after being carted off the field Saturday. Smith will likely miss the Miami game with a high ankle sprain.
Parker's injury came courtesy a shot in the back on a third-down scramble. Should a penalty for spearing have been called on the play?
"If they had thrown a flag, I don't think anybody would have thrown their hands up," Swinney said.
As for other injuries, Clemson linebacker Tig Willard (elbow) is expected to return against Miami after being held out against Auburn. Clemson's other significant injury was reserve linebacker's Spencer Shuey AC joint sprain.
The bye week is also an important rest period for the staff.
The issue of coaching staffs and their workloads is again in the news after Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack this weekend.
"There's a lot of pressure in this business," Swinney said. "I try to remind these guys we all have families … we try to do a good job of keeping our priorities in order around here." Swinney has asked his staff to take extra rest this week, because, as Swinney notes "come next week it will be 63 straight days of just grinding."
Though Clemson suffered another close loss Saturday -- its 17th loss by five points or less since 2005 -- Swinney said he saw plenty of positives when reviewing film Sunday.
"I think we have a chance to be a good football team," Swinney said. "We are trying to build this program with effort, toughness and physical play and strong belief in self and team and a no-quit attitude. … I saw all of those things show up Saturday night. I am really encouraged."
Swinney was especially pleased with Clemson's physical play, saying the ACC Tigers were the "more physical" team Saturday.
Clemson also avoided any procedure penalties.
"(Parker) did a great job managing the game," Swinney said. "The offensive line played with a lot of discipline, I thought they did a great job of handling elements and then sustaining drives."
One area where the Tigers need to improve is cutting down big plays allowed, Swinney said. Big plays turned Clemson's 14-point lead halftime lead into a seven-point deficit in the third quarter. … With Smith's injury, Swinney said redshirt freshman Brandon Thomas will work at guard this week. … Swinney said Parker's injury didn't have much impact on play calling, other than eliminating some quarterback run options.