Wednesday Practice Notebook: Clemson Getting Healthy, WR Joseph Ngata Undergoes Surgery

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney updates the health of his team ahead of Saturday's home finale against Pittsburgh
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It's been three weeks since the Clemson Tigers were last in action and five weeks since Trevor Lawrence was last under center. After an extended bye week filled with national attention surrounding last weekend's postponement, the Tigers are just ready to move on and play football again. 

The three-week hiatus comes admittingly comes at a perfect time for the wounded Tigers who hope to see several staters return to action when Clemson hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday as the school celebrates Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day in Death Valley.  

Lawrence of course is set to return to his role as QB1 after a stellar effort in the last two games from freshman sensation D.J. Uiagalelei. Clemson linebacker Mike Jones Jr stated earlier in the week he was prepared to play last week in Tallahassee indicating he too should be available this weekend. 

"We're definitely as healthy as we've been in a while for sure," Swinney said Wednesday night. "But there's still more room for improvement for sure." 

Swinney didn't get into specifics but did announce wide receiver Joseph Ngata will be out for a few more weeks after undergoing surgery Wednesday morning to address a nagging abdominal area injury. 

"We still have some guys that are working their way back and we're getting closer. We're as close to full strength as we've been in a long time and probably since the first game, to be honest." 

Clemson DE Justin Foster continues to battle his way back. Swinney said he is hopeful he could return for a post-season run but isn't sure at this time if he'll make it back. He did confirm the plan is for Foster to return in 2021. 

With all that has occurred this season, Dabo Swinney and company are just ready to get back or the unnormal normalcy of the 2020 college football season and finish out the regular season with its best effort yet. 

While the Tigers defeated the Panthers in the most recent meeting, toppling Pittsburgh 42-10 in the 2018 ACC Championship in Charlotte. However, Clemson hopes to not only send the senior class out with a perfect home record for its career but repay the visiting Panthers for the 43-42 upset the Tiger suffered in Death Valley in 2016.

Clemson (7-1) is currently a 24-point favorite over the Panthers (5-4). In Pittsburgh's last outing, Pat Narduzzi's squad humbled Florida State, 41-17. The win snapped a four-game skid which included losses to North Carolina State, Boston College, Miami, and Norte Dame. The Tigers' last game was also on Nov. 7 as The Fighting Irish outlasted then-top ranked Clemson in double overtime, 47-40.