CLEMSON -- The second-ranked Clemson Tigers were forced to practice inside the Poe Indoor Facility Wednesday, but the reason had nothing to do with Hurricane Florence or the preparation for the torrential downpours expected to hit the Upstate this weekend.
Instead, the Tigers were forced inside due to a faulty sprinkler system on their practice fields. But regardless of where the Tigers are forced to practice, what the weather is supposed to be or the time of the game, head coach Dabo Swinney’s job is to have his team ready to play.
“I do think that we're going to play on Saturday, but I have not been involved in those discussions. I just coach the football team,” Swinney said. “They tell me when to show up, that's what we're going to be there, and we're going to be ready to play. I don't get involved in all that stuff. I stay in my lane. The people that make those decisions are much more informed than me on why they would have to make those -- if they do have to move it and all that's going on. But regardless of when we play, my job is to have the team ready.”
Saturday’s game between the Tigers and the Georgia Southern Eagles has already had the time moved up three hours to a noon kickoff (ESPNU), but other than the earlier kickoff, the Tigers have had as normal a week of practice as they could — except for the players on the team that have family members in the way of the hurricane.
“I think from our preparation standpoint, there's no distractions,” Swinney said. “The only big distraction is some of the guys on our team that are having to deal with stuff back home. Now, that's a major concern, and we're doing everything we can to help the five or six, seven guys we've got that are being impacted, to the point where people have to leave and all that type of stuff. We're trying to help minimize any distraction there as far as our players and worry and things like that, but even still, even if people get out, you still have to deal with what this possible impact could be.
“As far as a football standpoint, it really doesn't -- where we are, it's really not changing anything. If we didn't have our indoor facility or something, that would be different, but we're able to get our practice in and be prepared.”
The Tigers have the benefit of having a state-of-the-art, 55,000-square-foot indoor facility and an adjoining indoor practice facility that gives them the opportunity to focus on football without having to worry about the weather.
“We’re just kind of in our own world over here. We’re not on the coast, so it’s a little different for us,” Swinney said. “We do have six or seven guys whose families have been making arrangements to get out and get here and all of that type of stuff. We’ve put a plan in place. It’s actually been a great week of practice. Guys do a good job of when we cross the lines, having good football focus. This has been a week where there’s a lot going on but they’ve been really locked in at practice.”
With the administration at Clemson still monitoring the weather situation, along with representatives from Georgia Southern and the ACC, Swinney is going to continue to prepare for the game, whenever it may be, and pray for the safety of all who are in the way of the storm.
“My job is to get the team ready and everybody else’s job is to tell me when to show up,” Swinney said. “We’ll play whenever. We’ll play tomorrow if we need to. We’ll play whenever we need to. My job is just to be ready. There’s a lot going on, obviously. This is a monster storm and who knows what could happen. You just have to rely on folks that this is what they do. I’m still praying that somehow, some way, the good Lord will calm this thing down. Hopefully, everybody is preparing and getting out of harm’s way. Stuff can be replaced, things can be rebuilt but lives are precious, so hopefully, everybody has had plenty of time to prepare.”