I can smell it. Game day is almost here. If I close my eyes really tightly and picture Death Valley in Clemson, S.C., I can smell the thousands of grills piled with tailgating food, the freshly painted field, the hundreds of hours of work and sweat emanating from the Tiger football players. Smells like TEAM spirit.
As the Clemson Tigers gear up for their season opener against Georgia, tensions and hopes are high. Coming off their high from an ESPN College GameDay and defeat over UGA last year, and then taking out Ohio State in one of the best Orange Bowl victories I’ve ever seen in post-season, the Tigers have prepared well for a tough schedule this year. However, Clemson is going to take this season like they do every season… one game at a time, starting with the opener in Athens.
“So the opener is always very difficult every single year. It really doesn’t matter whom you play,” said head coach for the Tigers, Dabo Swinney in Tuesday’s press conference. “The opener is difficult because you’ve got more time to prepare for one game than you do any game the rest of the year…”
While that’s true, Swinney also stated that Georgia is a new team this year, without film to study. This presents a challenge when preparing because you really don’t know what you’re going to get. Really and truly, UGA’s first film available this season will be this upcoming game against Clemson. With new UGA quarterback Hutson Mason and both star receivers back in the game, getting that W is going to be a fight from both teams and it seems that neither coach knows what’s going to happen. They can simply prepare the best they can and hope it all works out.
Another thing on Dabo’s mind this season is how the post-season games may turn out. With a new system, a loss doesn’t mean a team is out of the playoffs, but neither does a win. Post-season playoff games will be determined, yes, by wins, but also by toughness of schedule as well as a few other key factors. While we don’t know how the Tigers are going to end yet, they certainly have a tough season lined up with both away UGA and FSU games, as well as a seemingly tough to beat South Carolina at the season’s end.
While fans may be wondering about what’s going to happen, Dabo, per usual, has only this one game in mind. In this moment, beating Georgia is all that matters to this Clemson team, and hopefully that will propel them to focus and do just that. All in all, this game should be a good one, so fire up your grills and let’s watch some football.