Swinney says Lawrence is ready to roll, Uiagalelei played hurt at Notre Dame


by - Senior Writer -
Uiagalelei played hurt at Notre Dame but still had a record-setting night. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Uiagalelei played hurt at Notre Dame but still had a record-setting night. (Photo courtesy ACC)

Trevor Lawrence is back and chomping at the bit to play, while several other injured Tigers are in wait-and-see mode ahead of Saturday’s contest at Florida State.

FSU is now 2-6 after three straight losses and sits as a 35-point underdog currently to No. 4 Clemson. The Tigers and Noles tangle Saturday at noon (ABC) in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly press conference with the media Tuesday and said his wounded Tigers are getting better.

"It's been a weekly challenge as it has been for everybody. All year long," Swinney said. "Just having continuity and consistency. When we tweak. But, you know, it's 2020, that's kind of like I said the story for everyone, it seems. I mean, I think we're, we're in a much better place. I'm glad we didn't play last week. We would have been a problem. So, the good Lord looked out for us there. (James) Skalski is really doing well. He definitely is still not ready. He's not, I wouldn't say day-to-day -- he's not ready this week.

"You know we're hopeful for him that he will be able to get back with us next week. (Frank) Ladson is going to be out. I think I've already said that but he had a little spot in his foot that flared up at Notre Dame. So we just gotten back with his hip and then he kind of a hotspot on his foot so anyway he's out this week. Same thing, though we're hopeful that we'll get him back next week. But everybody else is what I would say day-to-day. We're in a much better place and hopefully that'll continue to be the trend."

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence missed two weeks with Covid but has been back at practice this week.

“He's chomping at the bit play," Swinney said. "He's... really locked in to try to get back out, and lead the team and play his best football. So you know what you're gonna get from 16, no doubt about that."

Swinney then went on to say that he isn’t worried about his team with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.

"I would probably have more concern if the schedule weren't set up the way it is. There won't be much of a break,” Swinney said. “I know for us we have been in the championship game and you have about a month. The team would be off a week and we would go on the road recruiting. That really isn't the case.

"The schedule gives us the best chance. It comes down to personal commitment and discipline and responsibility. That will vary from program to program and person to person. We have had our challenges but our guys have done a great job. The virus is out there, but for us I think things set up well for us to have the best chance. Our students are not coming back after Thanksgiving here. Our season will be finished with an empty campus. And nobody is ever here anyway during bowl prep."

Defensive end Xavier Thomas has been progressing in his recovery from strep throat and Covid and played significant snaps at Notre Dame.

"He has gotten better. Fortunately, he wasn't going to come back and play until the last few games,” Swinney said of Thomas. “He wouldn't be playing right now had the rules not changed (NCAA waiver for all athletes this season). He has worked himself back and has made improvement. Hopefully, he's going to be the best version of himself this year toward the end."

Another player who has battled through injury is backup quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who played well in his two starts replacing Lawrence, and Swinney said Uiagalelei was hurt a little more than people know coming out of the win over Miami.

"He got out there and had to miss the Georgia Tech game. He couldn't play in that game. He is a lot better, a lot better,” Swinney said. “I'd have a lot more confidence this week than we had the last two games. We had to pick our spots and hold our breath a couple of times. Fortunately, we got through it. Yes, we would have liked to have had more flexibility with some things, but it did not have anything to do with us losing to Notre Dame.

"I was concerned going into the BC game, his ability to be able to make the throws with his soreness. He just did an awesome job. Incredible. He's tough, gritty. I am super proud of him and what he did. I am proud of our receivers. We made some huge plays. We haven't had Frank and Joe (Ngata), so it has been a challenge there. We have had to prove we could throw the ball. I want to run the ball better, but to win you need to throw the ball."

He was also asked about the possibility of the College Football Playoff being delayed.

"I don't know if it will be. A lot of teams made the decision to not play,” Swinney said. “We have been going a long time. We shouldn't be penalized for going a long time. Anything is possible for sure but my focus is just on these next 18 days and having the best finish we can have. Nothing is off the table when it comes to 2020. I don't control any of that."

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