Clemson will play its home opener Saturday against The Citadel and the 19,000 fans spread out throughout Memorial Stadium will be a constant reminder than while football is back, the concerns over the coronavirus have yet to leave.
Given the fact that a player or more can be lost due to a positive test at any time, the Dabo Swinney philosophy of creating seasoned depth across the board could prove to be even more important in 2020.
"How we've always done things, we're probably as prepared a team or program for a situation, a moment like this, as anybody. We're not adjusting our philosophy as to how we practice, our substitutions and all that type of stuff," Swinney said.
"We're really just continuing to do what we've always done. But, it is even more important this year, for sure. Because you don't know. Just - all holding our breath, taking that test on Friday and you're just waiting to get the results back because it can change just like that. Hey, our students our back on campus and hopefully our students will do their part to help us have a season and just respect the guidelines and everything that's going on so that we can all continue to do what we love to do. It's always important to develop the depth. We've led the nation two years in a row in players per game so it's not anything new for us."
So even with the benefits of having superior depth amidst the challenges of 2020, Swinney says it's all about having a battle-tested team up and down the depth chart. Because whether it's COVID or the usual football injuries, someone has to always be ready to step in and fill any void.
"It's always been about developing our team, creating competition, morale, belief and trust. Guys that deserve to play, getting them the opportunity," Swinney said.
"My belief has always been, as a coach, that's one thing I'm going to force the issue on is I want to get guys reps and get them meaningful reps so they can develop and then they are engaged at practice. They believe in the meetings and why it's important to be ready. So it's something we've always done and this year, never been more important."