Second-ranked Clemson improved its record to 9-0 after blowing out Syracuse in Death Valley.
The 54-0 win was also the second time the Tigers’ defense shut out an opponent in the 2016 football season. Following the game, players and coaches expressed their thoughts about Clemson’s dominant performance on both sides of the ball.
Here is what we heard:
Head coach Dabo Swinney started his post-game press conference pointing out that his mother requested Clemson to score 72 points for her birthday.
“First of all, I want to so happy birthday to my sweet mom. She is 72 years young today. She called me this morning and said she wanted 72 points and I said, ‘I don’t know if we can quite make that but we will try hard!’ So happy birthday to my mom. Leave it to Tim Bourret to point out that we have never lost on my mom’s birthday since I was born. Go figure that one,” Swinney said.
Swinney was thrilled that the Tigers were able to complete a clean game with no turnovers. Now, Clemson sits at plus-two on the turnover margin for the season.
“I thought today, they flexed their muscles. It was kind of a statement game if you will of what we are capable of doing when you take care of the ball and you continue to play with the type of effort that we played with all year. That was the best part about the day,” Swinney said.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables loved the energy his defense brought to the matchup, and he was especially proud of keeping Syracuse out of the end zone all night.
“To keep them out of the end zone is a testament to our guys and their preparation and great focus. We really played with great passion and attitude. I loved how we attacked them from the get-go, and real proud of our guys,” Venables said. “Just not allowing them to get on track on early downs was the biggest thing,”
Linebacker Ben Boulware believes the game created some good momentum the Tigers hope to continue throughout the remainder of the season.
“To go out there today and dominate in every aspect was a great feeling, very satisfying, and hopefully we can keep that trend going the rest of the year.”
Clemson’s success against The Orange gave the Tigers the opportunity to have younger players and non-starters gain valuable game experience. Backup quarterback Nick Schuessler played nearly the entire second half of the game when Deshaun Watson left the game with a bruised shoulder.
“I have been standing on that sideline for way too long to not go in there and cut it loose and play with no regrets. The confidence I had today was just the result of the coaches preparing me, the players around me having confidence in me,” Schuessler said. “It is such a team effort and the team believing in me and being able to rally around me was big for me and I was able to go in there and cut it loose and I felt good about it.”
Swinney noted he was glad Clemson was in control of the game so he could hold Watson from playing and allow Schuessler to have the opportunity to shine.
“He set a great example for his teammates,” Swinney said. “It’s hard to continue to have to prepare each and every week like you’re the starter. It’s a hard thing to do, but that’s what it’s all about. I’m so proud of Nick.”
As for Watson, Swinney said taking him out of the game was precautionary. Watson added he did not feel pain after the game.
“It’s good. I don’t have any pain or anything like that,” Watson said. “I just felt like I needed to come out.”