Tigers ready for 'high-risk, high-reward' matchups against VT defense

Dabo Swinney: 'Your quarterback really has to be sharp...Guys are excited about getting ready to play'

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) catches a pass, scoring a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.  Clemson won 38-10, winning their first ACC crown in 30 years.

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) catches a pass, scoring a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Clemson won 38-10, winning their first ACC crown in 30 years.

If Virginia Tech's defense rolls the dice on Saturday, Dabo Swinney and his Tigers are ready to take their chances.

The Hokies, who've lived well off a solid, conservative, physical defense throughout Frank Beamer's tenure, have deviated significantly this season, with mixed results.

"Virginia Tech is always aggressive, by nature, but this year they're trying to force the action, not playing as much zone as they have in the past," said Dabo Swinney after practice on Wednesday. "Now they may get into the game and go all 'robber' coverage again, which is what they've built their reputation on.

"But for whatever reason this year, when you watch the film, they're trying to create more havoc...There's a little more high-risk, high-reward there, depending on how it plays out."

With skill players like Andre Ellington, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake and Tajh Boyd, Swinney likes his team's chances of "winning those match-ups."

"Your quarterback really has to be sharp," Swinney said. "When people blitz you and bring one more than you can block, you'd better know where you're going with the ball."

Swinney said the Tigers' practices this week have been spirited and productive.

"Guys are excited about getting ready to play," he said. "We've had a lot of preparation, a lot of work on ourselves."

Injury-wise, Swinney said "we're the best we've been in a while."

Routine bumps and bruises have had a chance to heal, and players with more serious injuries are making progress.

He said that first-year freshman offensive lineman Patrick Destefano continues to practice despite a broken finger, and that Martin Jenkins, Justin Parker and Tony McNeal are making good progress rehabbing from surgery. All are redshirting this season.

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