CLEMSON — Members of the news media were in town Tuesday for Clemson’s first weekly press conference of the 2015 football season. Head coach Dabo Swinney spoke for nearly 40 minutes about Clemson’s upcoming season opener against Wofford, and he was followed on the fourth floor of the WestZone facility by defensive coordinator Brent Venables, along with players Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett and Eric Mac Lain.
First Goal on the Table. Swinney often references his team’s five goals when speaking to the media in the team room, and he did it again Tuesday.
“The first goal for us is to win the opener,” he said. “It’s that simple. Let’s create good momentum for our season. We’ve been able to do that more times than not.”
Clemson is 4-0 when opening the season at home under Swinney’s watch, and 6-0 in opening home games overall.
Extra Time. Swinney pointed out that the Tigers have had an extra week of classes due to the glitch in the schedule this year. He said it has helped aid in his team’s chemistry and spirit, which was noticeably on an uptick at Monday’s practice.
“Last year we started school on a Wednesday, and played Georgia 10 days later,” he said. “But this year, we had an extra week built in. I think we’ve managed it well.”
Backing their ‘backers. Swinney and Venables were asked about the inexperience at the linebacker position, and both were optimistic despite some recent attrition.
“I like our roster at the position,” Swinney said. “But none of them have played, outside of Ben (Boulware) and B.J. (Goodson). Kendall Joseph was close to playing last year, but he’s been hurt. He’ll be a little rusty come Saturday, but mentally he’s sharp.”
Venables echoed that sentiment, saying Joseph is an instinctive football player who doesn’t need a ton of reps to firmly grasp particular schemes and concepts.
Turning the Corner. Clemson coaches are convinced the cornerback position is as deep as it has been in several years. Mackensie Alexander, a freshman All-American in 2014, mans down one position, while Cordrea Tankersley is projected to start at the other. The two are backed up by a pair of redshirt sophomores in Adrian Baker and Ryan Carter.
“You just want two healthy guys, in all honesty,” Venables said. “Tankersley is consistent and solid. Ryan and Adrian have improved, so we feel good about all of those guys.”
Running down the Hill? Eric Mac Lain gathered a big laugh Tuesday when asked what his advice would be to first-time Hill runners prior to Saturday’s 12:30 kickoff.
“My advice? Don’t jump,” he joked. “Ryan (Norton) and I talk about it all the time. We don’t want to be a big joke (for falling), so we always take it easy.”
On Monday, quarterback Deshaun Watson confirmed to the media that he would run down the Hill with his teammates, his first run since tearing an ACL as a freshman. Mac Lain was asked his thoughts on that Tuesday.
“I’ve told Deshaun that maybe as an entire offensive line we should carry him down the Hill, just to make sure,” he said.
Notes: Swinney announced Chris Register (defensive end) would not play Saturday due to a stinger … he also said the staff hoped to hold tight end Stanton Seckinger, who continues to progress from an ACL tear suffered last November in the regular season finale … Dan Benish, uncle of first-team left tackle Mitch Hyatt, and Reggie Pleasant have been named honorary captains.
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