CUTrevor 2019-08-26 10:31:44

Dabo has a couple new podium ornaments today: the 2018 Best Ever Coke Bottles! Beats Nick Saban’s coke bottles.

CUTrevor 2019-08-26 11:01:08

Dabo kicked off the 2019 season with a Monday press conference, a day earlier than usual because of the Thursday night opener, and had a couple new podium ornaments: the 2018 Best Ever Coke Bottles. He discussed many of the same topics we have covered over the past six weeks but did have a new piece of personnel information. Freshman DE Logan Cash will be leaving school. Dabo didn't want to go into specifics on how that transpired, but we know that Cash recently had surgery and would have redshirted this season.

The one topic we haven't discussed with Dabo since July is the addition of Terry Bowden as a graduate intern, so I asked Dabo about his relationship with Bowden and what the longtime head coach brings to the program from a football acumen standpoint. From the sounds of it, Bowden's role hasn't been very vital, or at least that's how Dabo made it seem. Perhaps Bowden has contributed more to the offense than Dabo would like to reveal, but if that's the case, he's doing a good job of concealing it. Dabo, of course, wouldn't be at Clemson and perhaps not in coaching at all if not for Terry's brother Tommy hiring him away from the real estate industry in 2003. Dabo told me in July that despite his relationship with Tommy, he never knew Terry very well. Bowden is without a doubt the most accomplished graduate intern of all time, having led Auburn to an undefeated season in 1992, the year after Dabo won a national title as a player for Alabama.

I also asked Dabo about the luxury of having a proven backup like Chase Brice--epsecially in this day and age. It's important not just in case Trevor gets hurt, like he did in the Syracuse game last season, but in developing the Tigers' young wide receivers and tight ends like Ngata, Ladson, Spector, Lay and Allen. One of the big national storylines leading into the season has been all the transfer quarterbacks around the country--including two former Tigers, Kelly Bryant and Hunter Johnson--and a backup of Brice's ilk is becoming a very rare commodity. Just ask Ohio State, which has virtually no one behind freshman Justin Fields because Tate Martell left for Miami.

Finally, I asked Dabo if Trevor Lawrence has improved in the few areas he was hoping to see, such as extending plays with his legs to throw down field. Dabo grinned and said he has done just that, and that he's looking forward to seeing it in action on Thursday.


“This is game week, finally. It’s a fun time of year. We’re certainly ready to kick it off and get back out on the field. We actually went out under the lights, which was pretty cool, preparing for an 8:00 kick. We’ve had a really good camp, good game prep. There is only kind of so far that you can get without going and playing a game. That’s the next step for us – playing an opponent and figuring out where we are. I’m excited to see us play and see what we need to do to improve and that’s really our focus is to just get better one week at a time, one day at a time. It’s really jut that simple. This is a team that -- whatever happens Thursday night -- we are going to have a lot of work to do. You can believe that. We’ve got a long way to go. But you’ve got to start somewhere. It’s a great opportunity for us certainly to be at home but at the end of the day, it’s just one of 12, and we’ve got to try to accomplish our first goal which is to win the opener.
It’s not going to be easy. This is an ACC game. To be quite honest with you, we don’t know a whole lot about Georgia Tech. Openers are really tough. They always are tough because we have more time to prepare for this one game than any game that we ever play because this has been looming for a long time now. All summer long, you’re thinking about your opener and all that goes into getting a new team ready to go play because we’ve got a lot of new pieces. We’ve got a little over 40 people on the team that were not on the team last year. So we’ve got a lot of guys that are getting their first experience, and then we’ve got a lot of new roles – guys that were on the team that have completely different roles and more significant roles. DK [Derion Kendrick] played wideout last year. He’s playing corner. There’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of things that you’ve got to cover to just get ready for the first game and to kind of get in a rhythm for the first game of the season. Right now, there’s really no rhythm. It’s just a lot of preparation going into this first game.
But openers are always tough, and then you throw in the fact that you’re playing an ACC opponent like Georgia Tech, who’s got good players, number one, and then number two, it’s a whole new staff. That’s a challenge because we know a lot about Temple, but we’re not playing Temple. Like last year going to play Texas A&M, we were studying Florida State and Notre Dame. So it’s just a challenge. There’s always lots of unknowns. There’s going to be some moments in the game where we’ve got to figure it out. Same thing for them. They know a lot more about Clemson then we know about them, so I’d say that’s an advantage definitely for them. We’ve got to see what their plan is going to be, make the adjustments and go from there. That’s exciting. It’s fun, but it is a challenge for sure because there’s just a lot of unknowns in this game for us both personnel-wise and certainly schematically. Again, not only is it a coaching change, but you have a complete philosophy change. You can’t even watch tape and go get a good feel for their personnel on the offensive side. So this is a unique matchup, but we’re really excited about it and ready to get this thing going.
Injury-wise, we are in a good spot [knocks on wood]. We’re going to be in full pads today, have got one more good-on-good type practice. And then tomorrow will be a like a Thursday for us. Knock on wood there; we’re in a pretty good spot. The only guys that are out are Amari [Rodgers] and [Bryton] Constantin. Constantin has been out all camp. Amari is doing great and looks awesome and has really made drastic improvements and doing a lot of stuff in practice. So we feel good about his progress, but he will definitely be out this week for sure.
The only other thing team-wise is Logan Cash, who you all know was going to be out this year and had surgery, he has decided to withdraw from school and move on. Not real sure what his plan is other than he just has decided he wants to withdraw from school and move on. We wish him all the best for sure.
But for us, it’s a special time. Everything we do builds to this moment. Everything we do builds to this moment. We work… we started in here last January with a new team and kind of resetting the room and reinstalling the program and so forth. Now here we are. Everything from that point builds to this moment, so it’s exciting. There are a lot of guys that are really pumped up and ready to go and kick this thing off.
Really appreciate our fans. I know it’s going to be an unbelievable environment in the Valley. We don’t get many of these Thursday opportunities. I remember when I got the job, everybody was talking about how we always lost on Thursday nights, and I’m like, ‘How many of them have been at home?’ We’ve been able to change that a little bit, but usually when we play on Thursdays, it’s on the road. So this is a unique opportunity for Clemson to play on a Thursday night and to kickoff this ACC Network. I think that is huge for our league, and to have the honor to be the first game on it is a big deal. I know our fans are going to show up and have us a great atmosphere to play in on Thursday night.”
On Georgia Tech’s depth chart:
“We looked at all that stuff, and again, it’s just kind of a lot of unknowns. They’ve got a lot of guys ‘above the line.’ They’ve got good players. They’ve got a lot of guys they feel good about.” 
On if he’s seen QB Trevor Lawrence improve at running and extending plays:
“Oh, yeah. Trevor has had an awesome camp – I mean, an unbelievable camp. If he’ll just continue to do what he’s done in practice and just take it to gameday, he’s going to be a great leader for us out on the field. He has really worked very hard in all areas we challenged him in and now it’s, ‘go take it to gameday.’”
On what he wants to see from his defensive line:
“Just see where they are. We’re going to play a bunch of guys. To be quite honest with you, we’ve got a couple of spots where I don’t even know who’s going to run out there first because we’ve still got a couple more days of practice and meetings and so forth. I mean, we have a rule that we’ve had in place ever since I’ve been a head coach: once we start game prep on Fridays, if you’re late to anything, if you’re a minute late to a pregame meal, you don’t start. It don’t matter if you’re Trevor Lawrence or whoever else. So it’s a business trip every week. We don’t have a lot of nonsense. I think Mitch Hyatt started every game in his career but one. He was about five minutes late to a pregame meal. That’s just kind of who we are and the way we do things. So we’ve still got a lot to do. We’ve got practices left. We’ve got meetings, we’ve got a lot of things. But I do know this – we’re going to play a lot of guys. We’ve got a bunch of guys that I think are kind of just like a big ol’ pack. They’re all doing great. I love those guys. I mean, they all bring something to the table. I mean, Xavier Thomas, geez. That guy is a special talent but he’s got to be a down-in, down-out special player, not just a special talent. He’s really made a ton of progress in camp. Justin Foster is just an old salty dog. He’s just steady. You can just count on him. He’s tough. That’s our two most experienced guys. Logan Rudolph? Oh my Lord. Nobody’s game-planning for Logan Rudolph. Nobody knows who he is, but you will. That guy is a football player. He is a foot. ball. player. So, they just kind of go do it. And K.J. [Henry]? K.J. is as talented a guy as we’ve got on the roster, and he’s a totally different guy than he was this time last year – weak and trying to run out there and be an athlete. He has really improved in all areas. Same thing with [Justin] Mascoll. Tough, heavy handed, physical guy, but really hasn’t played much, has still got a lot to learn. So, I mean, I think we’ve got an excellent group. Those five guys is where it kind of starts at defensive end for us, so all of them are going to play. Does somebody separate as we get into the games? I don’t know. They can all really be factors for us.
Same thing inside at D-tackle. Right now, Nyles [Pinckney], Jordan [Williams] and Tyler [Davis] have kind of separated a little bit. Those three guys have created some separation and have done a great job. Really feel good about those three, and that’s pretty impressive for a guy like Tyler Davis. Now, he’s been here since January, but he’s one of those guys that he’s just kind of gotten it to the point that now you’re kind of throwing him in there with Jordan and all three of those guys are guys that I think are ready to go play. Tyler hasn’t taken a college snap yet but we love what we’ve seen in practice. So that’s all we can go by. And then really pleased with Xavier Kelly and Darnell Jefferies. Really, really pleased with him. Ruke [Orhorhoro] is probably that next guy.
So we feel good about that group, but we’ve just got to go play, you know? It’s like we’re changing a lot of diapers. It’s like when babies are born, they don’t just know how to go to the bathroom, right? They don’t know how to walk; they crawl. We’ve got to kind of help them along and we’ll figure it out. Eventually they’ll be potty trained and they’ll walk, but some walk sooner than others, right? So I think we’ve got a talented group and we just have got to go play to figure it out from there.”

CUTrevor 2019-08-26 12:35:13

We spoke with Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins, Tanner Muse, Sean Pollard and Tremayne Anchrum on Monday about Thursday night's opener against Georgia Tech. They all seemed eager to hit someone with a different colored jersey and doing so a couple days earlier than normal. I asked Trevor how much he's worked with Travis Etienne in the passing game, and it sounds like it's been quite a bit. He said Travis has worked really hard to improve that which is the weakest part of his game and has often asked him to throw after practice. I also asked Trevor if he plans to watch Kelly Bryant and Missouri play on Saturday since they have the week off. He said he does and wishes Kelly the best of luck. Mizzou plays at Wyoming at 7:30 Saturday night. I think Mizzou is a team most are sleeping on, and I expect them to have a very good season. In fact, I predict they will finish 2nd in the SEC East, losing only at UGA. They should have beaten UGA last season and beat Florida by 21 in the Swamp late in the season. Unfortunately for Kelly, they can't go bowling this season because of NCAA sanctions, but don't be surprised if they finish 11-1 or 10-2!

Tee Higgins said he's looking forward to running down The Hill again but will be very cautious. He joked that he expects freshman WR Frank Ladson to fall because he is so clumsy. Higgins said he hasn't put much thought into being named AP Preseason All-American. He scored 12 touchdowns last season, averaging a TD every 5 catches! I asked him what it's like going against AJ Terrell in practice every day and how unique he is as a corner because of his length. Tee said it's always a battle that goes back and forth, and they each make the other better.

The full interviews are below!

CUTrevor 2019-08-26 12:43:08

CUTrevor 2019-08-26 14:29:52

CUTrevor 2019-08-26 14:50:22

CUTrevor 2019-08-26 14:50:50

That's all for today, guys. DK was a last-minute cancellation, just like last week. One of these days we'll get to talk to him! We won't have interviews tomorrow because of the short week, but don't forget to check in on Wednesday or Thursday for my extensive game preview!