This past Saturday, second-ranked Clemson did what it was supposed to do – it won.
The Tigers used another outstanding performance by its first-team defense and got enough big plays on offense to easily handle a pretty good Wake Forest football team. Granted, the final score of 28-14 was probably not what everyone wanted, but there was never any doubt on who was going to win the game.
Clemson dominated all three phases of the game. It was a convincing win, especially for those of us who watched it. Did the Tigers play a perfect game? No. Did they look pretty in doing it? No. Did they look like the No. 2 team in the country? Yes.
“It is hard (to win) man,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Everybody has enough (to beat you). Most teams have just enough if all of a sudden you are not quite ready, you are not focused, all of sudden you put the ball on the ground or whatever, you get beat. It is just a fine line, it really is.
“That’s why I have such a great appreciation for where we are right now and where we have been the past several years. Just the type of consistency that we have had is very uncommon and rare especially when you are dealing with young people day in and day out.”
Clemson fans should be appreciative, too. It seems like there are some out there, lately, who have taken winning for granted. They are upset because Clemson did not score 50 or 60 points on Wake Forest. They seem upset that Swinney put his backups in the game when the Tigers took a 28-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
But what they don’t seem to understand is that moments like Saturday are reasons why Clemson has won 11 straight games. Those are the reasons why Clemson has won 37 of its last 39 games. Those are the reasons why Clemson won a national championship last year.
“My thought process isn’t that I’m not trying to please the fans, I’m trying to win,” Swinney said. “I’m trying to have a great program. If they get bored with winning then that is their problem. I’m playing the guys that deserve to play. I’m not worried about all of that other stuff. I’m just trying to win games.”
And that’s what Clemson did this past Saturday against Wake Forest. It won the game.
“I’m just proud of our guys, our leadership,” Swinney said. “Again, that was a late trip (back from Virginia Tech). Coming back from an emotional game, then you have an early game against a good team and then you know you have a short week the next week.
“I just like how they showed up and how they were really focused on the task at hand and did what we needed to do to get a hard fought win to get to 6-0.”
Winning should never be boring, especially when you beat the kind of teams Clemson has beaten to get to 6-0. The Tigers six opponents have a combined record of 21-9, excluding their losses to the Tigers.
Auburn has not lost since losing to Clemson. In fact, it has blown everyone out and is ranked No. 10 in the latest Associated Press Poll. Virginia Tech is ranked No. 15.
“We have played some good teams,” Swinney said. “Wake Forest is going to be a good team. Virginia Tech is a good team. Nobody really wanted to say much about Auburn in the early part of the year, but Auburn is a good football team. We have had a tough little stretch here for six games and we have another one this week.
Swinney said everyone gets so busy and expects so much that sometimes it is easy to lose focus on the moments and what is happening now. He said he brought that up to his coaches during their Sunday staff meeting.
“You get so busy … You wake up and you are sixty,” he said. “You are like what the heck. Again, it is hard to win. It really is hard to win. I just have a great appreciation for our players now, our previous players, our staff and just enjoying each and every opportunity and embracing each moment that comes along the way.
“We are like 37-2 or something in our last 39 games. Eventually, one of these days, we are going to lose a game again. Let’s just keep enjoying the whole journey, all of it, as we keep moving forward through this season.”