Tigers getting healthy just in time for road contest at Virginia Tech

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney shows his emotion Saturday. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Swinney shows his emotion Saturday. (Photo courtesy ACC)

Clemson’s big win over Pitt is in the books and the Tigers are looking ahead to Virginia Tech.

The Tigers defeated Pitt 52-17 Saturday afternoon in Death Valley and will travel to Blacksburg to take on the Hokies next weekend. The game time has not been released by the ACC, who is looking to find an opponent for Miami this weekend and shore up the schedule for Dec. 12th.

The Tigers have opened as a 22-point favorite over the Hokies.

Here are some notes from head coach Dabo Swinney during his Sunday evening media conference:

*Swinney says the Tigers were dominant against Pitt. A lot of good things. The staff is going a good job of using what they’ve got. Team had several records tied or set. A lot of guys got to play a lot and the vets got to play. DJ Uiagalelei had a nice fourth-down touchdown pass and it was nice to get him in the game and keep him hot.

*They are healthy coming out of the Pitt game. Excited about going up to Blacksburg for the game against Virginia Tech.

*EJ Williams has quietly made some big strides in practice. EJ has been playing the 2-man, and Cornell Powell has been playing the 9-man. Swinney said the football looks like a beach ball to Powell right now. But they are excited about EJ and they think he has a chance to finish well. He says that he is a lot like Justyn Ross -- just faster. They will see more of him down the road.

*More on Powell – Swinney says he is putting the work in and this is a culmination of his growth and maturity in his time at Clemson. He is taking advantage of his opportunities and he has more knowledge. He says the practice tape now against what it was a few years ago is night and day. Powell is blossoming right before our eyes. He has three 100-yard game in a row. Hasn’t been done a lot around Clemson. He is playing with a motor and a confidence that when you put that with his skillset it makes for a major difference.

*They hope to get sophomore wide receiver Frank Ladson Jr. back soon.

*The film review of Kane Patterson and Vonda Bentley shows they both did a great job. He says Bentley is the epitome of a linebacker. Bentley took advantage of his snaps and caused a fumble. Patterson has been up and down this year with some injuries and things like that but he has battled through. Swinney says all the young linebackers are continuing to prepare and be ready.

*On James Skalski, Swinney says he thinks his linebacker could play the entire game next week. Swinney said it’s amazing to have a guy out there who can control the defense.

*Swinney says the Tigers won the line of scrimmage against Pitt.

*Where Pitt wanted to throw it all over the yard, Virginia Tech wants to run the football and have designed quarterback runs. The Hokies lead the ACC in averaging 250 rushing yards per game. They are committed to running the ball and they are very good at it. Virginia Tech had an open date and has had two weeks to get ready for the Tigers.

*Update on the injuries – Sheridan Jones and Jalyn Phillips will be back next week. Ruke Orhorhoro is really close to being able to play. Lannden Zanders is still day-to-day right now, but the silver lining is that a lot of guys have been able to get a lot of confidence. It was good to see Malcolm Greene out there getting a lot of snaps at the nickel spot. It was good to see Greene get out there – he has been working hard at the nickel spot.

*On the backup offensive linemen, Mason Trotter and Walker Parks did really well when they got into the game early. Those are the two most-ready guys. Hunter Rayburn and Paul Tchio are learning and getting closer. Tayquon Johnson is still learning but the game is still fast for him.

*Xavier Thomas had his first start of the season yesterday, and Swinney is happy with how he has progressed. He is still working his way back into game shape and to where he needs to be, but Swinney loves his effort. He had a big-time caused fumble that should have been recovered.

*Twenty-three different players have started on defense this season, and Swinney said it will pay huge dividends down the road, A lot of guys have gotten critical snaps this season. Everybody has had to be so ready to play because there is no four-game rule and guys are engaged in the plan and they’ve gotten experience. They are growing up right before our eyes. A lot of true freshmen and sophomores are getting experience.

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