Dabo Swinney says Sammy Watkins 'needs to play a good bit' against Paladins

Coach says Tigers will carry 'win today' attitude into preparations for Furman

Dabo Swinney gives a pep talk before the game

Photo by Mark Crammer

Dabo Swinney gives a pep talk before the game

When Clemson held its Monday team meeting, Dabo looked at Sammy Watkins and said ‘we're 2-0...don’t mess it up.’

Watkins grinned in response, ready to go about his business this week when the Tigers take on Furman, their final tune-up for their ACC title defense.

The 11th-ranked Tigers are riding high after consecutive victories over FBS opponents, and Swinney will be looking for another focused effort against the hard-luck Paladins – 0-2, but agonizingly close to being 2-0.

Swinney said Tuesday that Watkins, who has sat out the last two games on a disciplinary suspension, will play a major role for the Tigers on Saturday.

Dabo on offensive explosiveness

“I don’t think it’ll take him long,” Swinney said. “He needs to play a good bit and get back into it like the rest of the guys already have.”

Swinney said Watkins will be utilized as a punt returner and kickoff returner, in addition to playing his wide receiver spot.

Even with a nationally-televised showdown with No. 5 Florida State just ahead, Swinney says he’s not worried about the Tigers overlooking the Paladins, who he described as a “capable” opponent.

“They’ve turned it over quite a bit, and that’s hurt them,” said Swinney. “They want to run the ball, and last year – less than a year ago – they scored 35 points and put 500 yards on Florida. They want to run it, and that’s an area of needed improvement on our team. They’ll really challenge us.”

Swinney said he doesn’t plan on harping on “focus” this week.

“That’s not something you can address now – it has to be addressed in the off-season, to get your team to focus on today,” he said. “Today is Tuesday, and we want to win today, and then we’ll go on to the next day.

“We’ve talked about not looking ahead, because if you do that, you’ll falter. Great teams don’t do that. You play to a standard, not an opponent.”

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