Four wins into the season, Dabo Swinney is getting a good feel for his 2013 Tigers.
With good reason, he's feeling pretty good about them.
Following the third-ranked Tigers' 56-7 trouncing of Wake Forest on Saturday, Swinney praised the Tigers for their preparation, execution, ball security, and the readiness of young players to make the most of their opportunities.
Most important, he said, is his team's unwavering 'next-play, next-game' focus, which is transforming potential into performance.
"We're playing some really good defense right now," Swinney said, "and the offense showed a great drive to get back on track...This was another good win, and our most complete game. We're still growing as a team."
Swinney said Clemson's four-game resume includes two "bloodbath type wins" and two games in which the coaches have invested heavily in building depth with their younger players.
"Good teams find different ways to win, and they take advantage of their opportunities," Swinney said. "We're 4-0 and we know how to win...We know we don't always have to play great on offense.
"There's no doubt this is the most complete team we've had, and it's becoming the deepest team we've had. We're still improving, and we've played nowhere near our best football yet."
Defensively, Swinney said the Tigers are playing "smarter."
"More guys are in position, being where they're supposed to be," he said. "We've got good players on our defensive line who can cause problems for people. I like our linebackers and our rotation at corner, and we're growing our depth at safety.
"We decided to put the young (safeties) in there early, roll 'em and let 'em play. They're not going to get better standing on the sideline."
As the Tigers move on to their second road test - a 3:30 p.m. date next Saturday with Syracuse at the Carrier Dome - Swinney says he likes the makeup and unfolding character of his team.
"We've got a really good experienced group, and they're not overwhelmed by their ranking or the talk on ESPN or any of that," he said. "They're dialed in and they get it."
Swinney said he expects to have most of the Tigers' injured players back for the Syracuse game, with the possible exception of running back Rod McDowell and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.
Watkins returned to campus on Sunday, a day after attending the funeral of his cousin, who died in the car accident in which Watkins was trapped in the vehicle for more than two hours.
Swinney said Watkins, who is still "really sore," will go through physical therapy and rehab.
"We'll just have to see how it goes," Swinney said. "I'm not sure right now if he'll be available or not. I'm just glad that he's here with us."
Swinney said McDowell rolled his ankle early in the Wake Forest game and will be evaluated as the practice week progresses.
"My guess is that he'll be ready," said Swinney. "But we'll spend this week focused on the other three and just see how he responds."
Swinney said the Tigers will utilize their indoor practice facility this week in preparation for their game Saturday night against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
"There's a big difference in playing with a roof, mainly with your eyes, catching punts and kicks," he said. "It's just a different background, and you have to adjust. The fact that we have an indoor facility to practice in is a big plus."