CLEMSON — The Clemson football team could be on the verge of a special 2013 season and such a campaign will be made easier by a favorable conference schedule.
The ACC released 2013 conference opponents on Friday, the first round of scheduling that will include new ACC members Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Clemson will play its toughest 2013 ACC opponents — Florida State and Georgia Tech — at home.
The Tigers will also host Boston College and Wake Forest. Clemson travels to Syracuse, N.C. State, Virginia and Maryland.
Florida State is the only ranked 2012 team on Clemson’s 2013 ACC schedule. And only four teams on Clemson’s 2013 ACC schedule had non-losing records this season: FSU, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and N.C. State. Still, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney sees the schedule as challenging.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Swinney said.
Dates and times will be released at a later date.
Swinney advised Hopkins to return
Departing Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins is projected as a second-round draft pick and will likely earn a million-dollar signing bonus, but Swinney urged him to return for his senior year.
“I thought (Hopkins) needed another year,” Swinney said. “Unless you are a first rounder it’s not worth giving up your senior year.”
Despite the loss of a 1,405-yard receiver, Swinney is confident players like Charone Peake will step up at the position.
“We gotta replace Nuk but we have some quality people that have been waiting for more opportunities,” Swinney said. “It’s (Peake’s) chance to step up. We’ll be fine at receiver.”
A Battle at tackle?
True freshman left tackle Isaiah Battle performed well when he came in as an injury replacement against LSU. Swinney did not rule out the 6-7, 280-pound Battle pushing for a starting job.
“He has a chance to be as good as we’ve had here,” Swinney said. “He’s got toughness and a little attitude.”
Swinney said the linebacker position will be deep in 2013 as Oklahoma transfer Kellen Jones becomes eligible and Justin Parker returns from injury.The secondary is the primary concern but Swinney said the return of injured players Martin Jenkins, Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland will improve the unit.