The ACC Kickoff media event will take place in Charlotte July 18-19 and Dabo Swinney will be a popular coach to speak with. Swinney has led the Tigers to the ACC title and College Football Playoff three consecutive seasons, and Clemson is being projected by most to win the ACC and return to the playoff in 2018. Swinney, defensive end Clelin Ferrell and left tackle Mitch Hyatt will meet with the media on Thursday, July 19, at The Westin in downtown Charlotte. Here are five questions Swinney will likely be asked, as well as a prediction of what his answers will be. (Note: This is an abbreviated prediction of Swinney’s answers. The real answers will likely be longer.)
What did you think of Trevor Lawrence’s play this spring and where are you at with the quarterback battle?
“Trevor has been great. He’s a guy that has all the tools. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast. He’s got a strong arm. He’s physically ready to go out there and play college football right now. The game has to slow down for him a little bit still, and it started to this spring, but man, you saw in the spring game what he is capable of. Now will he be the starter in Game 1? We’ll see. Kelly (Bryant) has gone out there and done it and won some huge games for us. If we had to go play tomorrow Kelly would be the guy. But Trevor gained some ground on him this spring and it all matters. All of the preseason practices matter. Still a long ways to go before we face Furman.”
Were you surprised by the number of transfers you had this offseason?
“No, not really. We had what, seven or eight guys leave? That’s just part of it. Most of those guys I think were just looking for more playing time, and then Josh Belk had a family situation and decided to leave. But Hunter, Zerrick, those guys were just looking for somewhere to play. The same with Sterling Johnson and Jabril Robinson. When Christian and Clelin and Austin decided to come back I think Sterling and Jabril realized that they might not get the playing time they wanted, so they decided to move on. It is what it is. But I still feel great about our depth and the talent we’re going to put on the football field this fall.”
How do you replace Dorian O’Daniel?
“Well, that’s a great question. Dorian’s a great football player. He’s going to be playing on Sundays for a long time. The Chiefs got a good one, and I think he’ll have a great pro career. He was so good for us because he can do it all. He can cover a receiver or tight end and also stop the run, so that’s a big loss. But we liked what we saw this spring with Isaiah Simmons and Jalen Williams at that SAM/Nickel spot. Isaiah is going to be a great player. He’s big and athletic and can really move and he’s only a sophomore. And then Jalen is just a football player. He can play all three positions. He’s smart and instinctive and does whatever we need. So we feel like those two guys are ready to step up and have big years.”
How did Travis Etienne move to the top of the depth chart at running back?
“Well, that’s just where we are right now. Travis and Tavien (Feaster) and Adam (Choice) all had really good springs, but Travis just kind of moved to the front of that group. I mean you guys saw it last year. He led us in rushing and I don’t even think he started a game. And he didn’t even play against Auburn. We didn’t really know what we had at that point. But man, he’s special when he has the ball in his hands if he can just keep making progress in pass protection. But we’re going to need all of those guys. We only have four backs on scholarship and Lyn-J (Dixon) didn’t get here until this summer. So Travis and Tavien and Adam will continue to battle for the starting job this fall and it’ll be like last year, they’ll all get carries and all be big contributors.”
Who do you think is ready to step up at receiver with Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud turning pro?
“Look, I’m not worried about our receivers. We’re deep at receiver. Jeff (Scott) does a great job with those guys and we’ve got lots of talent over there. Now they’ve got to go out and do it. Hunter (Renfrow) is really the only guy who has gone out and consistently made plays week in and week out. But man, you talk about Tee Higgins, you talk about Amari Rodgers, T.J. Chase, Diondre Overton, Trevion Thompson had a great spring, Cornell Powell, I mean those guys could all be playing on Sundays. And then the two freshmen we brought in, Derion Kendrick and Justyn Ross. Derion was great this spring. I mean he’s just explosive. He really reminds you some of Sammy (Watkins) and Nuk (Hopkins) with just the explosiveness he has. And then Justyn is a guy that we’re really excited about that could’ve gone anywhere in the country. He’s big and physical and has great hands. So we’ll be fine at receiver. I’m not worried about that.”