Dabo Swinney likes coaching a team that gets everybody's best shot.
"That's what all the best programs have to do," said Swinney during his pre-N.C. State press conference on Tuesday.
And that's precisely what Swinney is expecting Thursday night from coach Dave Doeren's Wolfpack.
He needs to offer little in the way of reminder to the veteran core of this year's third-ranked team.
Clemson's current juniors and seniors were freshmen and sophomores on a team that took some late-season lumps two years ago en route to their ACC title.
Tigers prepare for Thursday at State
None was more painful that the 37-13 beating delivered by the Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Swinney said that while Clemson's 'nameless, faceless opponent' approach to preparation didn't start because of that game; the loss nevertheless offered lessons that may not could have been learned any other way.
"It didn't take a butt-whipping to get me thinking that way," said Swinney. "But with 18 and 19 year-olds, it may take a little longer. We were like No. 4 or 5 when we got beat by Georgia Tech, and we thought the world had come to an end.
"I think we learned as we came through that process. The season always starts tomorrow. This is the biggest game of the year, period. That mentality has kind of finally crept into our team.
"Last time at N.C. State, we just didn't play well. My job was to have the team ready, and when they're not ready, that's on me. We went up there and executed a plan to lose - four turnovers, three of them inside our own 20, against a good football team at their place? You can't win that way.
"Hopefully these guys on our team have grown through their whole team experience, and will put their best foot forward."
Swinney said he expects the Wolfpack to challenge the Tigers on every level.
"I'm very impressed with N.C. State," Swinney said. "They know what they're doing offensively, and they're committed to running the football. They get their big plays off play-action. Their quarterback is a big guy with a good pocket presence and the ability to run. And they've got good skill guys who can catch the ball.
Tigers happy to be 'hunted'
"Their defense is very active - they're the best group we've played at this point. They come off the ball and create a new line of scrimmage. There's a lot of movement and slanting, so it's hard to target guys. They're very aggressive in the secondary, so our receivers are going to have to show up and accept the challenge.
"We'll see a different N.C. State team (from their first two nonconference games), and that's part of it. Hopefully we'll be a team that always gets everybody's best shot. That's what all the best programs have to do. Our guys need to learn how to handle that level of pressure that comes every single week."
Quarterback Tajh Boyd said the Tigers are a different team than the one that went to Raleigh two seasons ago. The pressure and big-game atmosphere, he said, "comes with what we're doing with the program."
"When every game is a big game for every team, it becomes a big game for us," Boyd said. "You've gotta love being the hunted."