Dabo Swinney says Clemson does not have the label of defending national champions. Why? According to the Tigers’ head coach it’s because they don’t have Deshaun Watson coming back. They don’t have Mike Williams or Wayne Gallman or Jordan Leggett or Artavis Scott or Ben Boulware or Carlos Watkins coming back.
“If we had them all back, sure, but we don’t,” Swinney said after Clemson concluded the spring on Saturday with its annual Orange & White Spring Game.
Instead, Swinney says the Tigers are a new team, who is just like everyone else. They have to start over and earn their way back to the top of the mountain.
“We are a new team. We are on a new journey,” he said. “Our guys have a good mindset. For us, it is always about what’s next. That’s just how we approach it. We start over. Those plays that won last year, we have to go make them again to have a chance.”
To have that chance, it will start at quarterback where Clemson’s four quarterbacks collectively did not have a great day in the Orange & White Game. Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson and Tucker Israel, completed just 33-of-63 passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Despite the bad day from his signal callers, Swinney believes all four of his quarterbacks can keep Clemson competing at the championship level it has been competing at the last six years.
“That is why recruited them,” he said. “We recruited all four of them. We signed them all for a reason. We would have never signed them if we did not believe in them. Sometimes, guys might be backups and some guys might be the starter or whatever.”
Swinney believes his team has all it needs on its roster to complete its goals and compete for another spot in the College Football Playoff.
“We definitely have the ingredients to be a team that has a chance,” he said. “That is really where we want to be every year. You are never going to hear me come out and say ‘we are going to win it all.’ I just want to be one of those teams that will have a chance. That is all you can ask for. There is a lot that goes into all the rest of it. I want to see a team whose goal is to never go win the national championship … ya’ll know our goals. That is just a byproduct of our goals and the commitment. I think we have a team that can compete and has a legitimate chance to accomplish the five goals that we have as a team. If we will be committed to being the best team we can be day in and day out, we will see a good team emerge.”