Clemson notes: Coach Dabo Swinney anxious about opener
CLEMSON – Clemson was coming off a six-win season as it concluded training camp last August. This year Clemson is coming off its first ACC title in 20 years. Yet, following Clemson’s final practice before opening its season against Auburn in the Georgia Dome at 7 p.m. Saturday (ESPN), Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he is more anxious about his team’s performance Saturday than he was prior to last year’s opener.
“We’ve gotten them as far as we can get them,” Swinney said. “This time last year I was much more sure of game-day performance by a lot of guys. We have a bunch of guys right now that I just don’t know about until we play somebody but we are going to find out quick. I’m excited about it. I’m really anxious to see them play. It’s seems like it’s been two months of training camp.”
Preseason poll voters are more confident in No. 14 Clemson than they were a year ago when Clemson was not ranked in the preseason poll. Despite returning a number of proven offensive skill players, Swinney is concerned about his offensive and defensive lines.
Timothy to start: Gifford Timothy will start at right tackle on Saturday, according to Swinney. Timothy had arthroscopic surgery to repair a displaced kneecap and torn meniscus on August 10 but the staff said they’ve been encouraged with the mobility and strength he has shown in practice. Timothy’s backup is freshman Shaq Anthony.
“Giff is going to start,” Swinney said. “I’m really pleased with his progress. He doesn’t have a lot of career snaps but he has been in a game or two. He brings a little bit of a veteran feel. I don’t think he’ll be overwhelmed by the moment. He’s probably not going to be perfect but I know he’s going to give us great effort.”
Depth charge: Swinney said David Beasley will start at left guard but that Kalon Davis would also play. Swinney did not declare a starter between Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford who have been competing for defensive end position opposite Malliciah Goodman. Xavier Brewer and Jonathan Meeks will start at safety.
Surface problems?: The construction of Clemson’s new indoor practice facility is taking place on the site of its old artificial turf practice surface, meaning Clemson has been unable to simulate the Georgia Dome’s playing surface. Swinney said the team could have practiced at a local high school that had artificial turf but he did not deem it a significant enough issue to move the team.
“It’s just like grass,” Swinney said. “I think it would be a big deal if you were wearing a different shoe. You wear the same shoes. That’s not a factor,”
Injury report: Clemson cornerback Martin Jenkins (sports hernia) had surgery today and he will miss the entire season. Swinney is taking the glass half-full approach saying he thinks Jenkins could bolster what he thinks will be a special junior class next season. Swinney reported no other new injuries. “We are a pretty healthy team,” Swinney said.