Nov 1, 2012
Durham, N.C. — Clemson is ranked No. 10 nationally and enjoying a 7-1 season as they head to Durham Saturday for a nighttime showdown with the Blue Devils. It is the first time Clemson has played Duke at night in match-up history, but the time of the game doesn't mean a thing to head coach Dabo Swinney.
"We need to keep the mentality that this is our biggest game of the year," Swinney told Mike and Mark on 620 AM The Buzz Thursday. "Have that mentality and just focus on being our best, not worry about who we play or where we play or what time we play or any of that stuff. Those external factors shouldn’t have anything to do with our preparation our performance."
Last November Clemson was coming off of a loss to Georgia Tech and finished the month 1-2. With 42 freshmen on the roster last season, Swinney hopes their experience will help the team to maintain their focus.
"This is a big opportunity for us to hopefully set the tempo for our November because we do want to finish better and play our best football down the stretch," said Swinney.
The opportunity will not be an easy one to seize as Duke is having their own success at 6-3 and bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.
"We got a challenge this week because those guys are as good as it gets as far as throwing and catching the ball," said Swinney. "It’s easy to see why they’ve had the kind of success they’ve had this year when you watch them. Their quarterbacks are excellent. They’ve done a heck of a job up front, they don’t hardly let up any sacks. They’ve had good balance with their running game, they’re playing three guys back there and they have guys that when you get them the ball they can make plays."
Just a very capable offense and then defensively they’re playing their tails off. They create some action from time to time, they like to really challenge you and it forces you to have to make some plays, make some quick decisions because they will bring pressure. They’ve got some really solid players up front that are active, good in the secondary. Second teams they’re dangerous, their punter leads the league, their punt return guy is fifth in the nation, averaging 17 yards, that’s almost two first downs."
Not to mention the Blue Devils are 5-0 at home, winning two of those games in the fourth quarter. Starting fast, setting the tempo and creating a rhythm early is key for the Clemson coach and he knows Duke will be after the same thing.
"It’ll be a four quarter game I don’t have any doubt about that, especially when you’re playing at their place," Swinney said. "They play hard, they play every snap so this is a dangerous football team we’re getting ready to play. It’ll be a challenge, we’re excited about it and we look forward to coming up there and playing at night at Wallace Wade."