Swinney responds to Spurrier's comments
Calls for 'backing off the ledge'
CLEMSON — Near the end of his weekly press conference Tuesday, Dabo Swinney was asked to respond to Steve Spurrier’s latest verbal barb – and he took the high road.
Sunday, Swinney was highly complementary of South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore on his weekly teleconference, saying Lattimore’s serious knee injury “took my breath away.”
“It just breaks my heart. I just hurt for him and his family and his teammates,” Swinney said. “He represents all the things college football should be about. I know him personally. He's a class, class young man. Always has been. So is his family. It's devastating because I know how hard he's worked.”
Monday, during a rally/birthday party for Lattimore in Columbia, Spurrier couldn’t resist taking a shot.
“A lot of quotes came across from the nation and I read one today from the head coach at our upstate school," Spurrier told a crowd estimated at 1,500. You know, that school that used to beat us a lot that doesn't beat us much any more, that one.
“Usually when that coach up there talks about South Carolina it's a bunch of garbage and a bunch of BS usually. But I have to agree with him on what he said the other day.”
Swinney said he was “embarrassed” for Spurrier on his weekly call-in show Monday, and elaborated when asked Tuesday.
“I think everyone needs to back off the ledge,” he said. “Personally, I think (Spurrier) was trying to pay me a compliment, he just took a roundabout way of getting there. It was like me telling my wife , ‘This dress looks great, you don’t look nearly as fat in it as you do in this dress. It was a compliment. That’s what he was trying to do. I do take it as a compliment that he’d use something I’d say to compliment one of his players.”
“I’ve sent up prayers for Lattimore. He’s a great young man, and football is a violent game. Injuries will happen. He’s a guy I know, I know his family and I meant exactly what I said. He’s a quality person, and I really believe if anyone can come back he will. I’m disappointed we won’t get a chance to compete against him.”
Breeland back: Swinney said sophomore starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who missed the Wake Forest win with an abdominal strain, is expected to return to practice Tuesday. He and fellow sophomore Garry Peters, who missed the second half at Wake with a back injury, are both listed as probable for Duke.
“We’re a little thin in the secondary (with juniors Martin Jenkins and Darius Robinson out for the season),” Swinney said. “Hopefully we’ll get Breeland back today. We’ll see where he is. We don’t have room for injuries in that respect.”
Consistent Connor: One of Swinney’s star pupils as Clemson’s wide receivers coach was Aaron Kelly, who finished his career in 2008 as the ACC’s all-time receptions leader. Four years later that mark has been broken by Duke senior Connor Vernon, who passed Kelly early this month.
Vernon has 57 receptions on the season – one behind Clemson junior DeAndre Hopkins – as well as 761 yards and five touchdowns.
“He’s a very good player, very smart,” Swinney said. “He’s a great route-runner with great hands, all the attributes that excellent wide receivers have. He competes hard, fights for the ball and is a good runner after the catch.
“(Duke) does a great job of using him, and he’s been very consistent throughout his career, been very well-coached and is playing in a good system. He’s had a lot of opportunities to make a lot of plays. To set that type of record, you have to be pretty consistent in finishing and he’s been a very good finisher.”