CLEMSON – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been having daydreams about day games for quite a while now.
Nearly two years, to be precise, and he’ll get his wish Saturday when his team plays a mid-afternoon game at N.C. State. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
After playing 12 consecutive night games away from home – dating back to a day game against Oklahoma in the 2015 Orange Bowl – Swinney was pleased when the N.C. State kickoff time was announced early Sunday morning following his team’s 24-10 victory against Georgia Tech.
It was welcome news on a cool and rainy night.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t (happy),” Swinney said. “It didn’t disappoint me, that’s for sure. Twelve night games in a row away from here… That’s a lot of 5 a.m.’s and 6 a.m.’s. It’ll be good to get home around midnight at least, I guess.”
Truth be told, the steady diet of night games on the road were fairly kind to the Tigers. Clemson went 10-2 in the nocturnal head-knockers, which included two ACC Championship Games and four College Football Playoff games.
The lone losses during that span came against Alabama 45-40 in the 2015 National Championship Game and a 27-24 defeat at the hands of Syracuse on Oct. 13.
But with postseason hopes riding on the outcome of every game during the season’s home stretch, Swinney said kickoff times become a secondary consideration.
“This time of year, you don’t control those things, so you don’t spent time worrying about it,” he said.
Offensive lineman Sean Pollard certainly doesn’t.
“We don’t worry about game time here,” Pollard said. “If they want us to play at 2 in the morning, we’ll play at 2 in the morning. It doesn’t matter.
“If they want us to play in the parking lot, we will. Clemson is built to show up and play anytime, so we’re not really worried about the (game) time.”
But given an option, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel would rather play during the day – at least when the Tigers are away from home.
“It seems like every game we play is at night,” O’Daniel said. “Having to hang around the hotel all day and meet for hours and hours…it would be good to wake up, meet and go ahead and play and maybe not get back (home) at 5 o’clock in the morning. I’m happy about it.”
Likewise for defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
“It is nice to get up and just go play,” Wilkins said.
Scott Keepfer, The Greenville News