By Will Vandervort
During Tuesday’s press conference, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney learned his Tigers moved up four spots to No. 4 in the latest Associated Press College Football Poll, the Tigers highest ranking in the writer’s poll since Danny Ford’s Tigers were ranked No. 3 on September 17, 1988.
Put despite the ranking and all the great things the local and national media are saying about the Tigers, Swinney says the only thing they have accomplished is beating Georgia. None of that other stuff matters.
“If we are number four going into the ACC Championship game, that’s great,” the Clemson coach said. “Maybe that game gives us a chance to get in the final game. Then it matters. Right now, we have played just one game. That’s all. We are 1-0.
“I appreciate people recognizing potential because we do have good potential and have a chance to be a really good football team.”
The key for the Tigers (1-0) as they get set to host S.C. State this Saturday (RSN/12:30 p.m.) is to put the Georgia win behind them, and try to continue to get better and better each week.
“In fact, I told the team this yesterday, we are night and day, and light years ahead after one ball game this year than we were after one ballgame last year,” Swinney said. “I mean it isn’t really close. For me when you go back and look after one game last year, we were happy that we found a way to win that game.
“We are just better. We were starting over on the offensive line in that first game. We were starting over on the defensive line. We weren’t very good. We are much, much better this year than last year.”
Clemson does appear to be better. First off, this Georgia team appears to be a way better team than Auburn was in 2012, especially on offense. The Tigers are older and more experienced up front on both sides of the ball, plus guys like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Spencer Shuey and Corey Crawford have taken on more of a leadership role and seem to have the team focused on keeping things in the proper perspective.
“That was the opener. That was the first game of the season and I’m glad we came out of it with a victory,” Boyd said. “But, we have to continue to keep pressing on and keep our foot on the gas.”
Swinney admits if the Tigers stayed focused and don’t take any opponent, including this week’s FCS opponent in S.C. State, lightly then the 2013 football season has a chance to be pretty special.
“That team last year was pretty good,” Swinney said. “They won 11 games and did some great things. But that team got better, better and better throughout the year. So the challenge to this year’s team is this. Will you improve? Will you stay focused? Will you stay committed to the formula and to our standard? Will you continue to improve?
“If this team can do that then we have a chance to have a special year.”