Conference media days always bring a ton of attention and produce some good quotes, and the ACC media days were no different. Dabo Swinney showed he has complete confidence in his team on both sides of the ball, and there were even a couple more jabs between Swinney and Steve Spurrier.
Swinney and Spurrier Are Going to Keep Talking
The best quote of the week from Swinney was in regards to the differences between him and the Ol' Ball Coach. "He's from Pluto and I'm from Mars", Swinney told the media.
Spurrier had a line waiting in return for Swinney when asked about Clemson being the only team from the state to win a BCS bowl. "I'll admit to that, although we beat them about every year. They get there and we don't. That's just the way it is."
Steve Spurrier on Dabo Swinney’s “He’s from Pluto, I’m from Mars” quote: “Dabo still thinks there are 9 planets out there"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 22, 2014
It's clear that both coaches are going to keep the back and forth going for a while, but the jabs have really put this rivalry on the map. While Clemson-Carolina hasn't been the best rivalry over a long period of time, there hasn't been one much better the past few years. The jabs are done in good fun, though, as Swinney pointed out that both have mutual respect for each other.
Dabo says he and Spurrier have different backgrounds but are similar in more ways than people think. Says both have mutual respect.— David Hood (@MDavidHood) July 21, 2014
Swinney Has High Hopes Defensively
It's also clear that Coach Swinney expects a lot out of the Clemson defense in 2014. In a morning session interview with reporters, Swinney told the media (via Tony Crumpton of TigerNet.com) he would be disappointed if, by the end of the year, the Tigers were not one of the best in the country defensively.
This has certainly been the topic of discussion surrounding the Tigers this offseason—and for good reason. The Tigers return some big names on the defensive front seven, such as Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony.
TigerNet's David Hood points out a quote from Swinney, in which he spoke about how the defense could take some pressure off the offense.
Dabo Swinney said he would love to not need to score 45 points/game because of the defense, but then people would say the offense stinks— David Hood (@MDavidHood) July 21, 2014
With the transition on offense, it's great for Tiger fans to hear this kind of confidence from Swinney about his defense.
Offense Is Going to Look Pretty Similar to Last Season
Another point that Swinney made clear is that Clemson isn't going to risk much with its offensive schemes. He noted that starting quarterback and senior Cole Stoudt may even be faster than Tajh Boyd, but the situations may call for different things.
While Boyd was used heavily last season on 3rd-and-short, the Tigers will likely look to a running back to step up when they need a few yards. Swinney said he realizes they may do some things differently but points out that Stoudt has practiced in this system for three years.
He also spoke to the confidence Stoudt has, gained mostly from his previous experience.
Deshaun Watson Is Going to Play Early
When the topic of redshirting Watson came up, there wasn't much pause from Swinney to discard the notion. He says that Watson had an incredible spring and that he will play early.
What was your biggest takeaway from ACC Media Days?
Swinney said it wasn't clear how Watson would be used at this point, but he would definitely play early. An interesting quote from Swinney that I took away from watching the interviews is that Watson has gone from 182 to 204 pounds in his time at Clemson. That is big news for Tiger fans, as a bigger Watson provides more opportunities for utilizing him in the run game.