Change in philosophy

Dabo Swinney

CLEMSON - For the last several years at Clemson, Tuesday and Wednesday practices during the season weren't live.



"I would say 99 percent of the teams out there, and 100 percent of the NFL teams don't go live during the season," Swinney said. "You're full speed, but you thud people up and try to stay on your feet. That's just one of the ways the game is changed."

Swinney opted to change his team's practice philosophy last week.

"Last year, we had a bunch of veteran guys that knew how to play the game, up front, on both sides," he said. "This year, I just felt like going into last week, the only way we were going to get better was to simulate the game speed in practice, to just go live -- that's tackle to the ground and try to fix some of our problems."

According to Swinney, there was a noticeable improvement by the defense in the Boston College game.

"We really tackled better. We fit everything better," he said.

Every period on the last two Tuesdays and Wednesdays have been live.

"With what we're getting ready to see this week, and a bunch of guys that haven't really seen it, I just felt like the only way to get them ready was to go full speed, live -- cutting on the inside, perimeter, everything," Swinney said. "Our guys have done a good job. If they'll play like they've practiced Tuesday and today, we'll have a chance to, hopefully, execute a little bit better on defense."

Admittedly, Swinney wishes he would have done it earlier this season.

"I say that, but we've never done that, and nobody else does either," he said. "We've got a practice plan that we believe in. I do. If I had been a little smarter, I would have done it a little earlier -- better late than never."

The practice routine should return back to normal after this week. Swinney said they'll continue pick their spots to go live, but he doesn't expect there to be anymore practices that are live from whistle to whistle.

New ACC schedule…

Prior to Wednesday's news of the ACC moving back to an eight-game conference schedule, Swinney had voiced his opinion against the nine-game slate.

"I think this is great for us and great for our conference," he said. "With our continued rivalry with South Carolina as an annual non-conference game, and Notre Dame playing each ACC school twice in a six-year period, it was going to be difficult to keep the door open to play two-game series like we have had recently with Auburn and will have next year with Georgia.

"This will also give us flexibility in our schedule and to have seven home games going forward. That is very important for our community from an economic standpoint as well. I am glad we will continue to play eight conference games a year."

Swinney is unsure if Clemson will look into putting Oklahoma State and Ole Miss back on the schedule.

"Notre Dame is probably going to have a factor in that. I don't know that. They're going to be playing people, so you've got to fit them in somewhere," he said. "But I think that it definitely keeps the door open to play those type of games.

"The Auburn series has been great. It's been fun for our fans, their fans. To have that out-of-conference type of ball game is a way to gauge your team, outside of conference. Obviously, everybody is jacked up about the Georgia series."

Top 25 voter…

For the first-time in his head coaching career, Swinney has had a vote on the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

He looks through box scores, peaks at highlights and consults the previous week's list to gauge each week's vote.

"It's really had me much more engaged, because I really never paid that much attention to what's going on," Swinney said.

In this past week's poll, Swinney said he ranked Clemson "either 14th or 15th."

"I've had fun with that. It's great," he said.

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