Dabo, Clemson preparing for different type of challenge in 2019

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney previews 2019 season

Tigers lost several stars off 2018 team
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Tigers lost several stars off 2018 team

At this time a year ago, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made it clear that he felt like his 2018 team would be his best yet.

As Swinney previewed the 2019 season on Tuesday at his annual media outing in Clemson, he once again made it clear how he feels about his squad — but this year there will be a much different challenge.

“We’re a true work in progress,” Swinney said. “If you look at our roster we’ve got 120 on the roster and 80 of them are freshmen and sophomores... There’s a lot to teach. It’s our job to meet them where they are. It’s not their job to come to us. We’ve got to meet them where they are in their developmental process as a person, as a player, strength and conditioning, whatever it may be. When you have a team like this it’s gotta be a little more coach-led in certain cases.”

The 2018 team that crushed Alabama in the national title game featured veterans Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and others, and when there was something that needed to be corrected during a practice or a game, often times those players handled it.

That likely won’t be the case this year.

“As coaches, they’re still young, so we have to kind of keep our hand on the wheel a little bit and make sure we steer the course a little bit more with a young team,” Swinney said.

Still, the goal remains the same, and it isn’t as if the Tigers are hurting for talent.

Clemson returns the ACC Rookie of the Year in Trevor Lawrence, ACC Player of the Year in Travis Etienne and two of the best receivers in the country in Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross.

Defensively, Clemson has what Swinney described as “as good a back seven as we’ve had.”

“I think our team is a team that can compete for the league, and that’s what we shoot for every year. It’s never a goal to win a national championship. Y’all have heard me say that many times,” Swinney said. “All of those type of things come through staying focused on the goals that we have in our program. But I do think this team, when it’s all said and done, will be a team that can compete for the league. And if you can compete for the league then you’ve got a chance for lots of other opportunities.”