Swinney has confidence in Clemson’s chances for title

tigerThe Clemson Tigers are looking forward to what could become their best season in years.

With the preseason ACC player of the year, quarterback Deshaun Watson, controlling the offense, the Tigers were picked today to win the ACC football championship by media members in attendance at the ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, NC.

“Hopefully we can meet the expectations that other people have,” said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “There are a bunch of teams that have a chance to win the league. I believe we are one of those teams that has a shot. Whether we are first or whatever, that’s for others to debate.”

The Tigers finished 10-3 overall last year, and 6-2 in the ACC, finishing 2nd in the Atlantic Division.

The Tigers will look to improve on that record starting with the September 5th season opener at home against Wofford. Appalachian State is up next, followed by their first road game of the year September 17th at Louisville to begin the ACC portion of the schedule.

Deshaun Watson is healthy, and is expected to contend for the Heisman Trophy. Coach Swinney says that he’s ready, “The key is for him to be who he is and execute within our system. He’s prepared himself all season long to get back out there. He’s done a tremendous job with his rehab process and he’s a huge part of our team.”

With several mid-year players coming in after graduating high school early, the Tigers may have picked up that key to return them to National Championship game for the first time since they won it all back in 1981.

“We had 15 guys who graduated high school early. That’s tells you a lot about the type of worker that guy is to get that done,”said Swinney. “Those four offensive linemen that came in in January, it’s going to be incredibly beneficial to us and to them when we start camp in a few weeks. They’ve had a whole spring and a whole offseason and now a summer. It’s almost like they are redshirt freshmen.”

“We needed quarterbacks and we were able to bring two quarterbacks in mid-year. Deshaun is not taking any snaps in the spring so you’ve got two high school kids showing up and getting a ton of reps. It’s big for their development,” said Swinney.

As for that South Carolina game, according to Swinney, “We’ve always put huge emphasis on that South Carolina game. Last year, we earned the win. The one’s before, they earned it. Simple as that.”

It’ll take more than a win over South Carolina to propel the Tigers back to the National Championship game. But, with key additions to the line, and an elite quaterback, this could be that year.  Swinney is certainly confident that he has a team capable of getting there, “I love our team. I love our roster. I definitely think we have as good a shot as anybody out there.”

ACC Voting:

ACC Championship Votes
1.    Clemson, 84
2.    Florida State, 41
3.    Georgia Tech, 20
4.    Virginia Tech, 7
5.    North Carolina, 3
6.    Miami, 2
7.    NC State, 1

ACC Player of the Year Votes
1.    Deshaun Watson, Clemson – 69
2.    James Conner, Pittsburgh – 46
3.    Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech – 13
4.    Jalen Ramsey, Florida State – 7
5.    Brad Kayaa, Miami – 7
6.    Marquise Williams, North Carolina – 6
7.    Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech – 6
8.    Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh – 3
9.    Jacoby Brissett, NC State – 1

Photo Courtesy of the ACC

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