CLEMSON—When it was announced last week that true freshman Tyler Davis was starting at defensive end, many people were caught completely off-guard. Everyone except head coach Dabo Swinney, who stated that Davis was simply rewarded for a dominant fall.
"He was outstanding," Swinney said. "He played close to 30 snaps. He graded close to 80-percent. He graded a winner. He had three tackles, two assists, a TFL, a sack. He looked like a veteran. And that's what we have seen in practice. To see him take that to the field in that environment was great to see. I'm just so impressed with him. That's why he ran out there first. I think he graded the highest of our tackles and he is a true freshman."
Davis continued to impress against the Aggies in Week 2—even drawing a unique comparison from defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
"There was no doubt when he was declared the starter, because he was by far the best guy over a long period of time," Venables said. "As we all know, that's a rare deal. As freakish as Justyn Ross is, he didn't start a game until this year. It's hard as a true freshman, especially at that position. That's not normal.
"Christian Wilkins played starter snaps as a freshman but wasn't the starter. Dexter Lawrence, took him two games (to start). I'm not saying he's Dexter, but I'm just saying it's a big deal. He's got a focus to him that's just different. His coaches and family have done a really good job raising a hungry, young, grounded young man. And he's just getting started."
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One of the things that Venables stated separates Davis from other players is his motor.
"And the other part of that is he doesn't get satisfied," he continued. "And a lot of young people want to be satisfied, and that's the challenge to a lot of our young guys on D: The grind is real and it only gets harder. Cause it's a long season. So the ability to sustain the right preparations, mindset, work you put in, the extra you put in— it's hard. That's why teams at the end of the year start dropping off like flies. They can't do it, it's hard. It's really, really hard... to keep climbing and getting better."
Tigers in the polls: Not only did the Tigers keep their spot at No.1 in both the AP and the Coaches rankings—they increased their lead in both.
The Tigers received 60 of the first place votes by the coaches and the Tigers (1,544 points; 56 first-place votes) lead Alabama (1,489; 6 first-place votes), Georgia (1,385) and LSU (1,336) and Oklahoma (1,315).
Today's AP Poll marks the 62nd consecutive poll in which Clemson has appeared in the Top 10, moving into the Top 10 (and a tie for ninth) for the longest such streak in AP Poll history.
"Injurywise, we're in good shape...we came through it pretty good," Swinney said.
Tigers open as massive favorites: VegasInsider has Clemson as a 24-point favorite in the Orange home-opener at the Carrier Dome. The over/under opened at 62.5 points.