By Will Vandervort
Every week Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney calls the Tigers’ next opponent a “nameless, faceless opponent.” It’s an approach that appears to be working.
For more than eight months all anyone in college football could do was talk about the Clemson-Georgia game. It was talked about in every medium possible. However, at Clemson it was seldom brought up, other than the countdown to kickoff clocks located throughout the WestZone of Memorial Stadium.
“We didn’t really talk about Georgia until it came time to start game-planning,” Swinney said Sunday evening. “It is really more about Clemson. It’s about understanding that you play to a standard, not to an opponent, game day, kickoff time or any of that stuff.
“When you play, everybody is a faceless, nameless opponent and you take pride in your performance.”
Swinney says that’s the mentality No. 8 Clemson will have this coming week as the Tigers host FCS member S.C. State on Saturday. It’s no surprise the Tigers will be heavily favored to win the game, but Swinney says they cannot afford to think that way. They have to treat each opponent the same in order to stay focused on the bigger prize.
“You have to have that mentality to have that kind of consistency,” Swinney said. “That’s what it takes. If you don’t, you get beat by somebody you should not get beat by. That was an area I thought our team grew up a lot in last year in that they competed very consistently all year long.
“Hopefully our veteran leadership will step forward like we need them too.”
Swinney says he can understand the concern from media and the fans after coming off such a big and emotional win, but he isn’t worried about how his squad will respond this week.
“I certainly understand the concern,” he said. “You are coming off a big win in a big rivalry game and them you turn around and you are playing an (FCS) school. Okay, you think of the ol’ natural letdown, but those are things you have to understand going in and you play to a standard and to any type of an opponent.”
Getting pressure. When Vic Beasley sacked Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray early in the third quarter Saturday night, it was the redshirt junior’s second sack of the game and the fourth issued by Georgia’s veteran offensive line.
To put it into proper perspective on how improved the Tigers are at rushing the passer, Clemson did not pick up its fourth sack of the season until Week 4 last year.
“I thought our defensive line was incredibly physical and disruptive all night,” Swinney said. “They were just outstanding. (Georgia) did have some running success, but it was not on our defensive line. It was a misfit or a misalignment on the back end or the second level or missed tackle.
“Our defensive line was incredibly consistent and dialed in all night long.”
Best performer. Swinney said middle linebacker Stephone Anthony, who had seven tackles and a strip-sack, had the best night of all the linebackers that played in the Tigers’ win over Georgia. In all, the Tigers used eight players at linebacker, however, Anthony played a good bit of the game so Swinney said he would like for him to be rested a little more during games so he can be fresher in the fourth quarter.
Butter fingers. Swinney said he hated to see wide receiver Martavis Bryant struggle Saturday night because that’s not what they have seen from him all spring and summer. Swinney says it reminds him of when Brandon Ford struggled in the Auburn game last year, but bounced back to have an All-ACC season.
Bryant was credited with dropping two passes against Georgia.