Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Saturday’s win over No. 12 Virginia Tech was the best performance by his defense all year.
The Tigers held Virginia Tech to 342 total yards and just 4-of-15 on third-down conversions. They also forced three turnovers — one, an interception linebacker Dorian O’Daniel returned 22 yards for a touchdown, and another a spectacular one-handed grab by defensive end Austin Bryant.
“This is really how we wanted to begin this month. Defensively I thought we played our best game,” Swinney said during his weekly Sunday teleconference with the media. “Really, I thought our worst game was at Louisville, so to see us go back on the road and play our best game with great effort and being able to stop the run and force turnovers… Obviously the pick-six and just continued to play good red-zone defense.
“It was really just a clean game, and there is still a lot we can learn off of the tape. We had some missed tackles, but all in all, it was really a relentless effort.”
Swinney was extra pleased that his defense held the Hokies to 90 yards rushing, as his defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the night. In all, the Tigers had eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Bryant led the way with 2.5 tackles for loss and five tackles overall.
Injury notes. Swinney said his team came away from the game in “good shape” health wise, with freshman defensive end Justin Foster (ankle) the only player who played on Saturday that will not be able to practice on Monday.
Swinney also updated the status of sophomore cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who was in the concussion protocol last week. According to the head coach, Mullen was available to play but not needed.
“He’s good,” Swinney said of Mullen. “He was ready to go and available to play, but we were going to try to limit him. We were really in a good rhythm, guys were playing well, and we didn’t have to play him.”
Players of the game. Swinney said he will no longer release his team’s players of the game during his Sunday teleconference.
“I’m not going to release the players of the game anymore because it’s become anti-climatic in our team meeting room on Monday,” Swinney said.
Clemson Sports Information Director for Football Tim Bourret said he will release the players of the game after Swinney tells his team in their Monday meeting each week.