Clemson’s Dabo Swinney calls his team a work in progress
CLEMSON — For a team returning a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard receiver and six defensive starters, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said something interesting Tuesday, just days before the season opener against Auburn on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
“I think we are going to be a work in progress the first few weeks,” Swinney said, “until we get some work on tape we can evaluate from.”
As one would expect, Swinney’s biggest concern is the offensive line that features three new starters and faces a talented and deep Auburn defensive front led by defensive end Core Lemonier, who had 9.5 sacks last season.
Swinney said he’s encouraged with Gifford Timothy’s progress in recovering from knee surgery but he was not ready to proclaim him the starting right tackle like offensive coordinator Chad Morris did a day earlier.
“There are certain areas of the team where we are going to be able to gain some valuable knowledge,” Swinney said, “mostly on the offensive line but also at the running back position and the (defensive line).”
Caught in a moment
Following the win over Auburn last year, Swinney earned coast-to-coast television airtime for his enthusiastic, on-the-field, postgame comments.
“It was an early game and I had to live with that all evening, all night,” Swinney said. “People stick a microphone in your face at a moment of euphoria. I’ll never apologize about being excited about winning. I’m always going to celebrate winning.
“We hadn’t beaten Auburn in 60 years, we were 0-14 against Auburn, and on top of that they’re the defending national champion. You better believe it was a big deal.”
Frazier no stranger
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables knows first-year Auburn starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier well. Oklahoma recruited Frazier, a four-star prospect, when Venables was on the staff.
“I’m very aware of Frazier,” Venables said. “He’s a big, strong athletic kid. He has a big arm. I expect a heavy dose of him and their back (Onterio McCalebb)”