Thursday night notebook

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney wraps up the final practice before Saturday's game at North Carolina, post-practice interview audio included.


INJURY UPDATE: Swinney said after Thursday's practice that David Smith would be available Saturday.

"I think he can play. He looks good. We're going to say he's available, but we're going to hold him if we can win the game without him," Swinney said.

DeAndre Hopkins, who "tweaked" a hamstring in Wednesday's practice, will play. He was a full participant in Thursday's workout. Spencer Adams is also expected to play.

BACK IN THE TAR HEEL STATE: Growing up in North Wilkesboro, N.C. Landon Walker was forced to choose sides. North Carolina basketball or Duke basketball. The Tar Heels or Blue Devils. One or the other. He took the lighter shade of blue.

"I was always a big North Carolina basketball fan growing up. It's going to be fun going up there to play football for the first time in my career," Walker said.

The front he'll be facing isn't near as vaunted as the one that he expected to see once focus shifted to the 2010 schedule.

North Carolina will be without end Robert Quinn and tackle Marvin Austin, NFL quality linemen who remain suspended.

There's no chance Walker's going to overlook their replacements.

"I don't think overlooking the North Carolina defense is ever going to be a problem. They've got athletes," he said. "Even if they don't have the starting defensive line they would have had before this year, they're a good defensive front. They have capabilities like any front we've played. UNC recruits athletes and they recruit people that can play."

LOOKING FOR LEADERSHIP: After last season's 2-3 start, it was the senior leaders that played a big part in righting the ship, according to Brandon Maye.

"We had guys like C.J. Spiller, Thomas Austin, Michael Palmer—those guys step up last year. Kavell Conner, Crezdon Butler, Chris Chancellor—all those seniors stepped up last year," he said. "They kind of grabbed the bull by the horns."

Maye, the one-time starter at middle-linebacker, has seen his snaps diminish with the move to weak-side linebacker. He admitted that's been frustrating. After all, the guy played over 1,300 snaps and racked up almost 200 tackles during his first two seasons.

"It's not hard to lead, if you're born a leader. That's something you should do whether you're on the field, on the sideline, in the classroom, out of the classroom—no matter what it is," Maye said. "I've basically got to be a guy that's very unselfish. Even if I'm at the WILL position, I've got to do whatever is asked of me, whenever I get an opportunity." Top Stories