Tigers are far from a winning team

Zach Lentz

CLEMSON—The Clemson football team made their annual pilgrimage a few hundred yards from the friendly confines of their well-manicured practice grounds to Jervey Meadows, adjacent to the new softball stadium and Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The change in location is something that head coach Dabo Swinney enjoys because it breaks up the Tigers' complacency.

"Just love Jervey Meadows don't you. A bunch of nats out here...(The players) love it," Swinney said. "Just look, it's lumpy, it's just not perfect. It's no shade. It's just a little bit tougher mentally. But it's good. It's just a part of what we do and part of our preparation of the team—mentally and physically. Just kind of old school a little bit. That's what we say, 'Live modern, train old.' That's what we're doing right now. We'll either be here or in the stadium the rest fo the way."

Monday was the first time that Swinney met with the media since reviewing the game film from Saturday's first big scrimmage. And what he saw was not winning football.

"Kind of what I said the other day, offensively got out to a good start, defensively wasn't very good," Swinney said. "Then it kinda flipped. I thought the defense settled down and the offense kinda lost their stinger a little bit. Defensively we got a ways to go, a ways to go. We got a bunch of guys that are playing hard, but just way to many mistake—just not winning football right now.

"So we were so far from winning football Saturday that it's not even funny."

The good news for the Tigers was that Saturday they did not have to play "winning football" because it was only a scrimmage. But what Saturday's scrimmage did allow the coaching staff was the ability to see which players are grasping what they want them to grasp this fall and who is falling behind.

Because there is no better teacher than seeing yourself on film.

"That's what Saturday was about, let's stick a thermometer in there and let's see where we are," Swinney said. "Some guys, we gotta turn the heat up on, some guys are right on schedule, some guys I need to turn it down a little bit—don't want to overcook it. That's kind of where we are. We needed to get an assessment and we did. 

"We spent Saturday night and Sunday teaching. A lot of teaching, a lot of correcting because guys need to see it. They need to see what they have got to improve on. Then they have got to be coachable, take ownership."

The Tigers will continue their fall camp Tuesday, as they will have their second preseason scrimmage inside Death Valley—this one a situational scrimmage—before retuning to practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before taking the weekend off and beginning game prep for the Aug. 29 opener against Georgia Tech next Monday.

Meaning this is a huge week for the Tigers.

"Tomorrow is a big day for us. It's all situations, somethings that we've got to make sure that we get enough (reps). It's not a long day, but we got a lot of situations to cover," Swinney said, " Probably about 35 plays script with each group, situation stuff to get on tape. Live work. Then we'll come back tomorrow night with a jog through, then Wednesday we'll continue our installation, then Thursday have another big scrimmage and that will be our last full all-out scrimmage. 

"It's a big week for us. We've got a lot of installation to continue to get in, a lot of things for the big picture, but we need to get better. We gotta grow our team this week. We've got to get into this next scrimmage then we've got to start making some decisions."