When No. 3 Clemson travels to Atlanta on Thursday to take on Georgia Tech, its head coach is not so much interested on how the Yellow Jackets play as much as he is own team.
When Swinney’s Tigers play well and focus on not beating themselves, they usually win. As a matter of fact, they always win.
The last time the Tigers (3-0) lost a regular season game was in the same venue they will play the Yellow Jackets in on Thursday night … Atlanta’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt came on in relief of the injured Deshaun Watson and threw three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, in a 28-6 loss in 2014.
Since then Clemson has won 17 straight regular-season games and 20 of its last 21. The only loss came in the national championship game to Alabama when breakdowns on special teams cost it a national championship.
“To me, and I always talk to our guys, it should not matter who we play, it’s about how we play,” Swinney said on Wednesday during the Atlantic Coast Conference Coaches’ teleconference with the media. “Regardless of who we play, I just love how we played last week.”
Clemson played FCS member S.C. State, and played well. The defense pitched a shutout, while holding the Bulldogs to 102 total yards. The offense racked up 52 points and had 555 total yards. Special teams even scored a touchdown and the Tigers had three long punt returns in the 59-0 victory.
“Yes, we should dominate that opponent and we did. You look around and you see other games like that and teams play sloppy and things like that, but we really played a clean ballgame last week,” Swinney said. “I was very pleased with that.”
It was a much better effort by Swinney’s Tigers than the previous week when they struggled to beat Troy, while dropping passes and being called for holding penalties, pass interference and much more.
“Offensively, for us, it really started in the fourth quarter of the Troy game. We scored on our last three possessions of the Troy game … touchdown, touchdown, field goal and then our first seven possessions of the S.C. State game so we went 10 straight possessions of scoring drives and I think that really gave us a good confident boost and kind of got our momentum going like we needed to,” Swinney said. “Offensively, we got the rhythm that we needed.”
Though Clemson has played with more consistency on defense, the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense presents more of a challenge than at any point in the first three games.
This is a different type of challenge for sure for our defense. The main thing is just to continue to improve and pick up where we left off on Saturday and that is playing well in all three phases,” Swinney said. “Playing well, and executing, in all three phases, while playing with great effort, toughness and poise all throughout.
“That’s what I saw last week and that is what I’m looking for us to continue to do.”
Clemson at Georgia Tech will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and will be televised by ESPN.