Second-ranked Clemson rolled to a huge 61-3 victory over The Citadel in Death Valley on Saturday, giving the Tigers’ their seventh consecutive 10-win season.
Senior day and Military Appreciation Day also made Saturday special at Clemson.
Following the Tigers’ victory, the media spoke to head coach Dabo Swinney, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, wide receiver Tee Higgins, and running back Travis Etienne.
Here is what we heard:
Dabo Swinney was pleased with the effort from his team from top to bottom, but most importantly, he enjoyed watching the seniors play a tremendous game.
“To see our seniors go out like that was just awesome. Those guys are 27-1 at home,” Swinney said. “It doesn’t matter who you play, you still have to execute and play well. Our guys were very focused. They took control of the game early and stayed focus. We were able to play a lot of guys today that didn’t get to practice a lot on triple option and they all did great.”
O’Daniel, who played his last game in Death Valley on Saturday, was emotional, but the memories will never fade.
“I knew today was the last game in Death Valley, so I embraced everything about today, the atmosphere, the fans, my teammates, my coaches,” O’Daniel said. “Now that today is over with, I am going to cherish those memories and move on to the next game.”
The scoring differential allowed Clemson to utilize many of the young, inexperienced players on the Tigers’ roster. Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, and Hunter Johnson all threw over 100 yards and Higgins snagged two SportsCenter like touchdowns as he accumulated 178 receiving yards, the most yards in a game by a true freshman receiver.
“My confidence went up,” Higgins said. “I’m ready for anything, I just needed that one game to get my feet wet.”
Another player who stood out in Saturday’s contest was Etienne, who broke C.J. Spiller’s record for touchdowns in a season by a freshman running back with 11.
“It’s a humbling experience just to be mentioned in the same sentence has him,” Etienne said. “To go out there and break his record, I’m truly honored and truly blessed. I have to give all the credit to my offensive lineman and the receivers blocking down the field. They made it possible for me.”
For Swinney and his staff, seeing young players get extensive and live reps improves the team’s chemistry, depth, and skill.
“We had at least 94 guys play today,” Swinney said. “What that does is great for the healthier team who plays all of the time but it also provides a great chemistry. To see those young guys come in and make mistakes, we are able to get that on tape and grade them and it’s a learning opportunity for them. We played just about everybody. It never gets old seeing those guys go in and play.”
Clemson now moves forward as it will face South Carolina on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.