COLUMBIA, S.C. — It’s officially game week for the Clemson Tigers.
After a long, unpredictable off-season, the Tigers are just days away from their season opener against Wake Forest at Truist Field.
“I’m really proud of our team,” head coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday. “These guys have been amazing. I’ve seen our culture win the day, if you will, through this tough, tough time that we’ve all dealt with since March.”
Clemson has won their season opener 10 of Dabo Swinney’s 11 years as head coach, and each year since 2015. Despite their success, Swinney says the first game of the season tends to be one of the toughest games of the year.
“Openers are always the toughest games to me just because you have no tape,” the head coach said. “You’re basing everything on last year. Last year’s scheme, last year’s personnel. There’s always new people that you have not seen any tape.”
Wake Forest won their first five games of the season in 2019, finishing with an 8-5 record. The program has gone to four straight bowl games, winning three out of the four contests.
Swinney says he has developed a deeper level of respect for Wake Forest head coach David Paul Clawson after spending time together on weekly Zoom conferences this off-season.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Clawson,” Swinney said. “He and I have spent a lot of time together. I already had a lot of respect for him but it’s grown even more as I’ve got to know him on a different level.”
Wake Forest’s offense is led by QB Sam Hartman. The redshirt sophomore has 3,178 total offensive yards and 23 touchdowns coming into this season. Dabo Swinney had high praise for the North Carolina native.
“Hartman is a really good player,” Swinney explained. “We’ve seen him, have a lot of respect for him, his leadership. He’s incredibly committed and invested in the program there.”
Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence recognizes the importance of the first game of the season, and says he fully expects the Tigers to come out on Saturday and be ready to play.
“We expect a lot of ourselves, and that’s why we’ve been able to play at such a high level because we do expect to play really well,” the Heisman hopeful said. “Coach Swinney always says, you don’t have to play perfect, but you have to play well, and that’s just kind of been our motto.”
Clemson and Wake Forest are set to kickoff this Saturday at 7:30pm at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, N.C..