After a much-needed week of rest and recovery, Clemson will return to action this week when it travels to face the Syracuse Orange on Friday, Oct. 15. Kickoff at the Carrier Dome is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
"We're dang sure better than we were this time a week ago," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "We got better because we're healthier. We had more time to work on Clemson. From a staff standpoint, we had time to work hard on our crossover study. That's always a valuable tool of information for us. We just got some guys healthy and in a better place."
Saturday will represent just the 10th meeting between Clemson and Syracuse all-time and only the ninth in regular season play. Clemson has won seven of eight meetings since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013. The Tigers had won four in a row by at least double digits before Syracuse ended the streak with a 27-24 Friday night win over the Tigers at Syracuse in 2017.
"I think we will have to run the ball first," Swinney said. "Nobody wants to be run on. if we can run, we will have opportunities in the pass game. Hopefully, that is kind of the next step. You have to win the line of scrimmage and run when people are giving you opportunities to run the ball. We have some dudes outside and a big-armed quarterback but opposing coordinators said hey let's see you run the ball and we didn't. Not a lot of opportunities downfield throwing the ball when there are eight people deep.
"Wake Forest was able to run the ball and did a lot of play-action, a lot of RPO stuff and they made some plays. Same thing with Syracuse. They were able to run the ball and that creates explosive opportunities. You have to commit. You can't just sit there and play coverage when you have a quarterback who can run like the guy Syracuse has. You have to stop the run, otherwise, you're not winning."
Swinney on Injuries:
Clemson ended their most recent game against Boston College without 16 members of its preseason depth chart, either via long-term injury, in-game injury, team departure or disqualification.
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That number also doesn't account for the absences of a number of other expected depth contributors or surprising newcomers like Will Taylor, who earned the punt return job and a niche offensive role coming out of fall camp.
“We were down 10 or 11 guys – it was crazy,” Swinney said in his postgame press conference. “We had a MASH unit going on. It has been a crazy year. Our depth is really being challenged. We need the open date big time. “Our biggest concern is just the health of our team. Injuries, health and depth, by far."
Swinney updated the health of the team Tuesday during his press conference. Swinney started with the wide receivers, namely Justyn Ross, who left the BC game after a hit to his head.
Justyn is great. He's fine. He's doing great," Swinney said. "The week off was good for him, for sure. Frank is still battling and E.J. is battling. E.J. hasn't been healthy in awhile. Frank has been a day-to-day guy battling a groin. Hopefully, he will be in a better spot by Friday night. I'm pleased with Ajou Ajou and Beaux and Dacari. Grisham has done a good job of cross-training and creating some depth there."
The Tigers also got some good news with regards to running back Will Shipley and defensive tackle Tyler Davis.
"Not this week, no. He's amazing. He and Tyler Davis, they're amazing," Swinney said. "They just respond differently. They're both grinders. They attack everything. Their focus is on rehab now. We thought Shipley might be done (for the year) initially but he'll be back sooner than later. Same with Tyler Davis. Will is off crutches and making great progress."
Swinney added that Mario Goodrich was doing better and that Fred Davis II will not play against Syracuse, as he rehabs an injured ankle.