Swinney Excited to be Back on the Field After a Week Off

Zach Lentz

After a bye week, the No.1 Clemson Tigers welcome the defending ACC Coastal Division champions the Virginia Cavaliers to Memorial Stadium Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN) in a rematch of last year's ACC Championship game. 

According to head coach Dabo Swinney, he is glad to be back on the field rather than watching at home.

"We're excited to be back in the game this week enjoyed the open date," Swinney said. "Got a chance to watch a lot of other people play and kind of learn a little bit about some other teams and learn from other teams as well so enjoyed that. But, you know, nothing like being a part of it every week. Just knowing that you've got a game to look forward to and the preparation that takes place all week long. To me, that's what it's all about. 

"Our guys are in a good place, you know, we've got good momentum, obviously had a good start. Now we're turning the page and stepping into October here, another opportunity here at home, will be a night game in the valley."

Last season, No. 3 Clemson defeated No. 22 Virginia 62-17 to win its fifth consecutive ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium. Clemson became the first team in college football history to win five straight conference championship games. However, Swinney is a firm believer that last year's game means absolutely nothing when it comes to this season—especially when it comes to their quarterback.

"You know this weekend, got a really good Virginia team," Swinney said. "They got a lot of guys back offensively. We saw (quarterback Brennan) Armstrong some last year but not a ton. So, got the chance to see him this past Saturday was really good, other than... he's a challenge. He's a problem, he's a really good player. Looks like a, you know, a young Steve Young running around out there and left the craft the creative extends plays tough runner. Really good size, accurate thrower really has no fear, this ball up trust his guys to make competitive plays for him. 

"They do a great job from, from a schematic standpoint, experienced in the offensive line, know what they're doing with their formation... Check-with-me, RPOs, their efficiency on first and second down, you know they do a great job with all that stuff, got a few transfers in there. 21 is, he's a big boy pad runner, you better be ready for that guy. 

Saturday's game will represent only the fifth meeting between the two teams in Dabo Swinney’s tenure. Swinney first faced Virginia as a head coach in his fourth game as Clemson’s interim head coach, earning a 13-3 victory in 2008. 

But even though he has experienced a great deal of success against the Cavaliers, as the Tigers secured a 59-10 win in the teams' most recent regular-season meeting in 2013, Swinney believes that Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall is building a something special in Charlottesville. 

"Bronco has done an amazing job obviously this is a rematch of the ACC championship game last year, and they were there for a reason," Swinney said. "This is a team that, you know, and culture and a program that's been building.

"Each year, they're probably one of the more experienced teams out there."

Tigers as healthy as they have been:

"This week our team is in a good place health-wise, we pretty much have everybody that we expected to be back is practicing. And, you know, we've got a couple of longer-term guys like Ruke, Luke Price that you know are out for a little more extended time Justin Foster, but the rest of those guys are here. So, this is really the first time in quite a while that we've had everybody on the practice field. So hopefully we can continue to do what we need to do. And, you know, have good test results, you know, Wednesday and Friday, don't have any setbacks there. Have a great week of practice."

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