The Tigers, who will leave for Chestnut Hill, Mass., tomorrow at noon, have not won a game since beating S.C. State on Sept. 27. Clemson enters Saturday's 3:30 p.m. start hoping the gain a win that could jumpstart a streak in which it needs to win four of its final five games to qualify for a bowl game. Clemson interim head coach Dabo Swinney, however, isn't worried about such trivial things. Instead, he is focusing his team on just winning the game and nothing else.
"You can't think like that," he said following Thursday's practice. "You have to go to win. You can't worry about scenarios and all that stuff, we have to worry about execution, taking care of the football, playing with passion and getting the ball back. That's all we have to be worried about right now. We don't have to worry about anything else."
Part of what Swinney is worried about is the Eagles' big defensive tackles. Right tackle B.J. Raji and left tackle Ron Brace have made life difficult for just about every offensive football team this year and has made life easier for BC linebacker Mark Herzlich, who ranks third in the ACC with 62 tackles.
"They are big, strong and have played a lot of football. It seems like that Raji has played forever," Swinney said. "You can't move them and it frees up those linebackers to run and make plays. That's why (Herzlich) is third in the conference in tackles and he by far leads the team. It's hard to get to him.
"They will be a tough challenge for us."
Despite the Eagles' talent up front, Swinney says the Tigers are still going to try and run the football.
"We have to get in their face and go try and run the ball," he said. "We are not going to lineup and go knock these guys back. We are not that type of team, yet. We are young up front, they are experienced and we are not so we are going to have to do some things to give our skill (guys) a chance."
That's why the Tigers (3-4, 1-3 ACC) are likely to use a two-quarterback system in hopes redshirt freshman Willy Korn gives them another option with his mobility. Right now Cullen Harper will start the game, though Korn, who is officially listed as probable for Saturday, is expected to play.
"The quarterbacks are going to have to make plays. They have to make plays without question, whoever is in there," Swinney said.
And if they do, Clemson's chances of winning are that much better.
"You have to expect to win. I expect to win," Swinney said. "I hope our players expect to win. If you don't have those expectations, then chances are you will not win."
INJURY UPDATES: Clemson defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson (knee) and left guard David Smith (ankle) are both listed as questionable for Saturday's game, but both will more than likely play. Running back C.J. Spiller, like Korn, is listed as probable, but Swinney said he will definitely play. Spiller is coming off a hamstring injury he suffered at Wake Forest on Oct. 9.
WHO WILL START? Swinney indicated he will more than likely start Mason Cloy and Bobby Hutchinson at the guard positions, but no decision has been made at which guard spot they will start. He said it will more than likely be a game-time decision on who definitely starts up front and where.
As for punter, Swinney expects to make a decision by tomorrow before the team leaves for Boston. He says senior Jimmy Maners may be a little bit ahead of freshman Dawson Zimmerman, but they will make the decision after they have had a chance to review and grade Thursday's practice tape.
Just win baby!
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