There will be plenty of options for Dabo Swinney to choose from when he has to decide on a starting…
Dabo, Brownell hit Greenville
The following is a transcript from the interview with Swinney.
On Cole Stoudt
Swinney: First of all, you've got an experience guy. Cole has incredibly valuable experience. For a guy that's been a backup, he has great experience, great production in some critical situations and he's earned it. He's a leader. The guys rallied around him. I think we had a good direction as we're going into this summer. They actually started [Wednesday] with their workouts. I'm excited to see Cole lead the Tigers. He's performed well as a backup, now he's got to play at a high standard as a starter.
On Deshaun Watson
Swinney: You've got a young, special talent in Deshaun Watson that's going to have an opportunity to play. He's going to keep competing for the job. It's a great situation. Hopefully, Cole performs at the level we know he can and be the guy all throughout the year, and we can bring Deshaun on. You know you've got a guy like that you can build your program around the next few years. We also have a healthy competition going on, because it's not like Deshaun is going to show up in July and say, ‘OK, I'm the backup.' This kid came in January, is well prepared, so it's going to be a very good competition. That's what you need, in order to get the best out of all your players.
On the defense still being overlooked
Swinney: I think that's going to change. I saw a lot of change in that as we went through the season last year, especially toward the end, our defense started to get some of those headlines. I thought the defense got a lot of the headlines this spring and deservedly so. what's going to be interesting is how they respond to that, because they've kind of had that chip on their shoulder the last couple of years, where nobody knew their name, whereas now, coming into this season, everybody knows who Corey [Crawford], Vic [Beasley] and Shaq [Lawson] , Grady [Jarrett], Stephone [Anthony] and all of those are. How do they handle that part of it? Are they still playing with that same chip on their shoulder, the same sense of urgency, because if they do, I think we've got a great chance to be outstanding on that side of the ball.
On the ACC scheduling news
Swinney: I've, obviously, been for that…we're going to play South Carolina. As good as we've been they've been a little better. They've been Top 10, won 11 a couple of years in a row as well, so that's been a tough game for us, obviously the rival game. We've played Auburn three years in a row, played Georgia, going two years in a row. We've got Notre Dame next year. You go nine [ACC games], you can schedule yourself out of a chance to be in the hunt pretty quick. I think this just gives us the flexibility to have great competition within our conference, and also be able to step out of conference and kind of bring in a different flavor. All those things, nationally…it's one thing to schedule those type of games, but you've got to win your share of them. You're not going to win them all, but you've got to win your fair share. We've done that. That's why we've been able to be nationally relevant. You beat LSU. You beat Auburn. You beat Georgia. You beat Ohio State. As you step out of conference, that changes things and that's what happened with our program. That's what's happened with our conference. I like that flexibility, to be able to do that. If you go to nine that would really hurt things.
On playing an ACC team as a non-conference game
Swinney: I think that's going to be part of what they're pushing forward here. What that allows to do, for example: I would like for every guy that comes here to be able to play everybody in this league. I want that. I don't think we go back to Virginia until like '22 or something like that. That seems like a long time. To have the flexibility to be able to look at your schedule and say, ‘OK, let's schedule them as one of those other games.' The other plus-two, for our model, in addition to South Carolina, that really gives you the type of flexibility that we need. Sometimes, it might be hard to get some of those games for everybody in our conference. To have the flexibility within and it doesn't count as a conference game, I think that's a positive.