A win is a win. That was the message Dabo Swinney sent to his second-ranked Clemson team earlier this week.
After hearing that some of the fans were not pleased with the performance of the Tigers in front of a sellout crowd at Auburn’s Jordan-Hair Stadium last Saturday, Swinney offered his apologies, sort of.
“I’m sorry we disappointed them. We went to win the game and that’s what we did,” Swinney said.
Not looking as crisp as it usually does, Clemson’s offense still put up some solid numbers against a tough Auburn defense, as it racked up 399 yards of total offense. Of those 399 yards, 151 of them came on the ground, while 248 were through the air.
Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams returned with nine catches for 174 yards, while running back Wayne Gallman contributed with 123 rushing yards, including a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Not having his best night from a statistical standpoint, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson still played well against Auburn’s defense as he completed 19-of-34 passes for 248 yards, including a 16-yard scoring toss to Hunter Renfrow in the fourth quarter which turned out to be the winning score.
“We just miscued on a few things, but we will be fine offensively,” Swinney said.
Clemson center Jay Guillermo felt like the Tigers put up a strong fight against a well-prepared Auburn team.
“We didn’t score as many points as we wanted. We left some points on the field, but overall whenever we go back and watch it, we didn’t play bad at all,” the senior said. “There are a few things that we can really clean up, especially as an offensive line, but to be completely honest, we were going against a good defense and they had a good plan coming in.”
Keep in mind, the Clemson offensive line didn’t allow a sack and allowed just three tackles for loss in the Tigers victory over Auburn.
Looking at the other side of the ball, the Tigers defense had an outstanding performance holding Auburn to only 262 yards of offense. Turning heads throughout the entire night, they racked up a total of four sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and forced three turnovers.
Limiting Auburn to just 262 made it one of the worst offensive performances in Gus Malzahn’s coaching career at Auburn.
Swinney says he liked the mindset and enthusiasm from those who were frustrated about the Tigers win at a hostile environment on the road to open the season.
” I think that’s great. I think that means we have become a relevant program when there is a group of people that aren’t even happy when you win. I feel sorry for those folks. We are just happy. We are happy to win. We are always going to get better,” Swinney said.
The win at Auburn was the Tigers’ first at Auburn since 1950, which also extended their streak of winning against unranked opponents to 39 games.
“I can remember a time long time ago when no one would have expected us to go at eight o’clock on national TV, in primetime and win. Now we are expected to win, which is awesome. That’s where we want to be,” Swinney said.