By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- One thing I’ve always admired about Clemson’s Head Coach Dabo Swinney is his ability to remain positive in tough situations. Today on his weekly teleconference, Swinney spoke of the team’s tough first loss of the season against rival Georgia Tech, and was his usual self, cracking jokes and reassuring members of the media that his team would be ready to fight for the Atlantic Division title against Wake Forest in two weeks.
“Obviously this was a difficult loss we’re coming off of,” Swinney said. “It’s a great lesson for our team though in that you have to look at why we’ve been successful and we went the other way on Saturday. We’re a good team, Saturday showed that anybody could beat us, and we’re capable of beating anyone when we’re executing our plan to win.”
Even in a loss, Swinney always looks for something positive to take away from it, and he was able to do that Saturday against the Yellow Jackets.
“There were some positives in the game, we did win the second half but we were too far down and the clock was against us,” Swinney said. “I liked the way our team competed, we certainly did not give up, and that was very evident with the turnover we got on the goal line and then went 97 yards for a touchdown. We’ve got to put this game behind us now though, grow and learn from it and get everyone refocused. We’re 4 quarters away from an Atlantic Division Title and our 9th win of the season, so that’s what we have to focus on.”
This week’s open date comes at a very good time, as a lot of Clemson’s players are banged up, including star running back Andre Ellington, who missed the Georgia Tech game with an ankle injury.
“Based on what Danny Poole tells me, next time we take the field against Wake we’ll be as healthy as we’ve been since before the season started,” Swinney said. “That’s definitely encouraging to hear, Ellington will be rocking and rolling before the Wake game, we’ll take good care of him this week and continue to get him 100%. That’s just the blessing of having the open date; all of these guys have the opportunity to get well.”
According to Swinney, his team will hopefully have forgotten about the disappointing loss this weekend before they step onto the practice field this afternoon.
“They’ve got to forget about it today,” Swinney said. “We’ll talk about the mistakes and study the tape and then we’ll go on the practice field and move on and move forward. It’s one game, one loss; we’re having a really good season. Obviously you want to win them all, but I don’t think there are a lot of people out there that thought we’d be 9-0 right now, and if we played a little better on Saturday we could have been. But reality is we’re 8-1 and every goal on our wall is still in front of us. That’s what our focus has been and has to continue to be, we’re 4 quarters away from getting our 6th win in the conference, with the opportunity to get the 7th win which is something that hasn’t happened here in a very long time. There have been a lot of firsts this year, we still have a lot left out there, and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Swinney has been very pleased so far this year with fan support, even after a tough loss like Saturdays’
“We haven’t heard a lot of negativity from the fans so far this season at all,” Swinney said. “I’m sure our fans were disappointed with us losing the other night, just like we are. No one is more disappointed after a loss than the coaches and players. But at 2:30 AM Sunday when we arrived back to the West End Zone, we had a hundred or so folks standing outside, waiting on the team to get back. That’s All In right there, that’s the kind of support that makes such a huge difference and such an impact. Obviously we did not play well, and we were disappointed with it being our first loss of the year, but to have people still out there waiting for us to get back, that’s pretty special and meant a ton to me right there. It’s easy to be fired up when everything’s good and you’re winning but it’s a whole different deal to be supportive when your team doesn’t play as well and you lose a game.”