Swinney: Charlotte is a dangerous team

Zach Lentz

CLEMSON — The No. 1 Clemson Tigers (3-0, 2-0 ACC) return home this week for their first ever meeting with the Charlotte 49ers (2-1). 

While many around the country may be wondering about who the 49ers are and why they are playing the Tigers, head coach Dabo Swinney is cautioning anyone who thinks this game will be an easy win to think again.

"Charlotte is going to challenge us," Swinney said. "I'll tell you what, this team will challenge us on offense. They put 41 points up on App. State. I'm impressed with how well coached they are. A great scheme. It's probably the biggest challenge for our defense schematically. They create extra gaps, play action. They know what they're doing. This is the best rushing team we have seen in three games. Their ability to run the ball and how they are coordinated to run the ball, it is the best team we've seen in three games.

"This is a team that could embarrass us if we do not have a great week of preparation. They play with great energy and a great spirit. They're physical. Their running back is tough, thick. We have to do a nice job. We need to win some matchups outside. Their quarterback is a heck of a player and he's a runner, too. They run him a lot. They can split your defense with misdirection. Their receivers are skilled and have made a lot of one-on-one plays. This is a really well-coached, well-coordinated offense that can cause us a lot of problems."

It is not only the offense that Swinney believes can present a challenge for the Tigers, as their defense boasts one of the best players in college football.

Alex Highsmith currently ranks fifth in the FBS in sacks, and the 49ers, as a team, also rank fifth in sacks.

"Flip over to the other side and they are fifth in the country in sacks," Swinney said. "They have the best player that we have seen to this point in No. 5. He's on all of the great player lists. I keep watching him and he looks like Xavier Thomas. He's physical, fast and disruptive. He's causing sacks and tips. He's really, really good. Both of their ends are. No. 5 could play for anybody in the country. This is a team that will not be overwhelmed."

Swinney coaching his 150th game:

Saturday's game will mark a historic occasion for Swinney, as he coaches his 150th game at Clemson. Swinney's 149 career games as head coach are the second-most in school history, trailing only Frank Howard (295).

When asked what he has learned in his 150 games, Swinney paused for a minute before saying how he manages his time was the toughest thing to learn.

"I have like five pages of paper that I keep and I titled it what I have learned as a coach. I just write stuff. I'm up to page five now," Swinney said. "I will have to go back and see what the main thing is I have learned. Managing my time has probably been the biggest thing. 

"You can be very prepared for a job but until you do that job, there is just no better teacher than experience. It's like teaching a class for the first time. You can train to be a teacher but you still don't know a lot. There are 24 hours in a day and you need 25. You have to be organized and detailed and efficient. That's a big challenge for any head coach. When you first get that job, there is just so much to do. I still have a lot to learn."

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