Dabo Swinney: It's a long season
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has played and coached in numerous openers and plans to treat Saturday night's game against No. 5 Georgia as just the latest one, nothing more and nothing less.
But that's difficult when top-10 teams meet to kick off the season.
Swinney said Tuesday that his eighth-ranked Tigers can't get too caught up in what happens against the Bulldogs at Death Valley, win or lose. There's a long season remaining and even a defeat won't derail Clemson from its championship goals.
"So what?" Swinney said about a potential Tigers' win. "You've got to be careful. It's not a one-all, end-all deal. It's a long season. We've got 12 games on the schedule. Every opponent is critical. We've got much bigger goals than an opening game."
Georgia does, too, but you can't blame the Bulldogs for wanting to start the season on the right foot with three matchups against top-15 teams in the first four games.
"We're trying to be in midseason form by Game 1," coach Mark Richt said. "A lot of things have to be done to get us ready for that gauntlet. We know it's coming. We'll be ready."
Still, Swinney's excited about the buzz around campus, the activity at Memorial Stadium and the prime spot this game carries in college football. ESPN's "College GameDay" will be at Clemson for the first time in seven years. On Monday night, Swinney was swarmed by well-wishers at a local grocery store where he did an appearance.
"I think that's great. They'll be people rolling in probably (Wednesday) night just to smell the campus," Swinney said.
Reigning ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd has tried to keep expectations in check leading up to Georgia. Boyd holds dozens of Clemson quarterback records and had strongly considered skipping his senior season for the NFL.
"This is not a make or break game, regardless of the outcome," Boyd said. "It's a long season. Win or lose, we'll have to get ready for the next situation."
Swinney echoed those sentiments.
"Both teams have very little room for error and from that standpoint, it's a big challenge. But we're going to grow over these first few weeks and we've got a lot to prove as a football team."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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