By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC-After a thrilling 35-30 victory over #11 Florida State, Clemson’s Head Coach Dabo Swinney walked into his press conference, smiled and said “Well, That was fun.”
“First of all I’d like to take my hat off to Florida State,” Swinney said. “We had them down a couple of times; they showed the heart of a champion themselves today the way they fought back. They really took advantage of some of the mistakes that we made, but our guys; it’s just a game of plays. We just made a few more plays than they did.”
Although it was a close game for the most part, Swinney is very pleased to be 4-0 going into their first road game against Virginia Tech next weekend. Swinney did see a change in his team and how they prepared for this game today.
“The biggest thing that I saw today is that our team expected to win,” Swinney said. “I talk a lot about the culture and what we’ve been trying to do for two years here at Clemson, and that’s the expectation that we have to have. Our guys expected to win; lord knows we made a million mistakes. We had enough mistakes to lose three games. Our guys have a resiliency though and that goes back to your culture, your belief and what you’re trying to do.”
Belief is one thing that Swinney has been coaching his players since day one and he has noticed his teaching paying off so far this season.
“Believing in each other, not just yourself but believing in each other that someone will always have your back,” Swinney said. “That’s what I teach these guys to have, and this team has each other’s back, they have the coach’s backs.”
Swinney has been talking about the importance of this game all week, how it sets Clemson up in the Atlantic Division, and now that they’ve won Clemson fans are starting to realize just how special of a team we have this season.
“This first win puts us in the driver’s seat,” Swinney said. “That’s really all it does. But we’re trying to keep it all about us, we want to try and control our own destiny so this was a huge win in that regard. But we’ve got a long way to go, our goals are bigger than 4-0, we’re still trying to get better as a team, still making a lot of mistakes but we’re finding ways to correct them and it’s easier to correct them coming off of a win than a loss.”
Swinney uses a quote from Babe Ruth as a motto for his 2011 Tigers, “Yesterday’s homeruns won’t win today’s game.”
This quote is used to help the Tigers stay focused, hungry and grounded, three things that Swinney believes are very important for his team to continue to be successful.
There have been plenty of nay-sayers and negative press surrounding Clemson’s program during the offseason as the Tigers were coming off of a 6-7 season, however Swinney’s Tigers have refused to listen to any of it. According to Swinney though, now that Clemson has opened some eyes this season they’ve been receiving some very positive national and local press, but Swinney’s players aren’t listening to that either.
“They don’t listen to the negative press, instead they’ve chosen to listen to the right things,” Swinney said. “They believe in each other and go to work. It’s just as important that they don’t listen to the positive press either, they just need to continue to stay humble, stay hungry and continue to focus on one week at a time.”
In Swinney’s mind, rankings and accolades that his team receives are nice, but they don’t matter until December.
“People might know that we’re Clemson now,” Swinney said. “Maybe someone’s going to say something nice about us, but it doesn’t matter until December. Don’t ask me about rankings, because it’s irrelevant now, ask me in December and I’ll tell you how I feel about our team’s ranking. We’re just trying to get better as a team right now.”
One player Swinney was very proud of after the game was Rennie Moore, after the huge hit he made on FSU’s Trickett to end the game.
“I’m proud of Rennie,” Swinney said. “Just a huge play for him, we didn’t come after him (Trickett), he just won the matchup. What a big hit to win the game, that’s what you dream about. Here’s a 5th year senior that has really been through a lot in his career at Clemson and to see him rise up and take it over was just awesome.”
Swinney is also proud of the way Spencer Benton stepped up today after punter Dawson Zimmerman was banged up. Swinney doesn’t believe Zimmerman’s injury is very serious but won’t find out for sure until tomorrow.