Dabo Swinney Previews Duke

CLEMSON—Clemson will open a season on Labor Day evening for the second straight year when the ninth-ranked Tigers face the Duke Blue Devils on Monday, Sept. 4. Kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C., is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Swinney saw the results of that focus as fall approached. “All of the metrics in our program and our indicators for success are at an all-time high for us,” Swinney said in July. “Our guys have really done what they’ve needed to do — strength, speed, conditioning, weights, accountability, leadership initiatives. Those are great indicators of the type of team that you have and I’m really proud of what this group has done.”

Clemson enters the season as the nation’s No. 9 team according to both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll. The last team to win a national championship after opening the season at No. 9 in the AP Poll was the 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide, a team which included a senior wideout by the name of Dabo Swinney


  • “This is my 15th year now, and we’ve not had a championship team that didn’t win the opener. If you look at the history of Clemson, I think there’s 27 conference championship teams here. I think it’s like 24-2-1 (in openers).”
  • On Duke: “A defense that plays hard. Plays smart. You have to finish against this group. They take the ball way at an alarmingly high rate.”
  • “You don’t win the world title or lose the world title in one game, but it’s a very important goal for us.”
  • “Elko defenses rarely are out of position, rarely beats themselves, plays hard, you have to finish drives, they take the ball away at a high rate and do a good job taking care of the ball.”
  • “Tough opener on the road and it’s a conference game. Two really experienced teams going at it — it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
  • Duke QB Riley Leonard: “This guy’s problem. A lot of people think of him because he’s the leading rusher, leading touchdown guy, but he’s a very accurate thrower. He’s incredible. He can make all the throws.”
  • Riley Leonard: “It’s a game of space. Being able to extend plays– create space for your receivers. Then, when people play coverage, keep your offense on schedule by taking the 5-6 yard plays. He can make all the throws.”
  • WR Tyler Brown: “Surprised how quickly he’s been able to pick things up…. He’s got some power to him, and I didn’t really expect that this early from him. He plays bigger than he is.”
  • Duke’s offense: “We need to see where we are. We are an experienced team. They are gonna get tested. This is a great group of WRs. I think it’s a great opportunity for us.”
  • I want to see our offensive line. I think these guys are excited to go play. I want us to win because of them. I hope that’s what I see.”
  • Tristan Leigh’s physical development when he arrived. “I thought somebody had kidnapped that guy. I went back and watched the tape myself, being like what did I miss? … How could I be so wrong?”
  • Tristen Leigh “He has worked his tail off and he is one of the most respected guys on the team”
  • “ We have 7 starters on the offensive line Obviously we can only run 5 but if we could run 7 we would, I see all 7 guys as starters, all 7 can play and will play.”
  • Tre Williams isn’t ready to play yet…”trending in the right direction”…We’re gonna really try to kind of take it slow with him because we could we could get a year back with him.”
  • “Tre Williams is not ready yet, we’re gonna see where he is he is back in a green jersey but he’s not ready to go yet.”
  • Stellato missed all of camp but he’s good now, has practiced for the last week, getting over a hamstring, looked good for a guy who has not played the last two seasons, can help them when available.
  • “Stellatos ready to go, he missed all of the fall camp basically but he’s ready.”
  • “Everyone is ready to go, we are ready to see the big boys in the trenches. We have some great competition…and we have 7 guys who I consider a starter”

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