Clemson’s football team has had a good week of practice, and because of that Dabo Swinney feels his third-ranked Tigers will feel no pressure when they host No. 15 NC State Saturday at Death Valley.
“There is no pressure when you are committed and prepared. It is just that simple,” the head coach said.
Maybe it is that simple. It is hard to argue with a coach who has won 88 games in the last seven-plus seasons and has an .854-win percentage.
“I mean, what is the worst thing that could happen? You get beat,” Swinney said. “If you are prepared and you are committed, then you should not have any pressure.”
One might think the Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) would feel a lot of pressure this week against the upstart Wolfpack.
NC State (5-0, 2-0 ACC) knows it can possibly knock the Tigers off of their ACC throne with a win on Saturday. Clemson has won the last three ACC Championships and the winner of Saturday’s 3:30 p.m., kickoff will have the inside track to representing the Atlantic Division in the conference championship game come Dec. 1.
However, this is a familiar position for Clemson. They have played in countless big games over the years. This year’s senior class has played in two national championship games and three College Football Playoff Semifinal games.
They understand that the pressure is only too much to handle when they come into a game unprepared.
“If you try to take shortcuts, and maybe you are not quite as committed as you need to be, or you should have been or whatever, then there is a little pressure,” Swinney said. “I think all of us can understand that.”
In only the way he could do it, Swinney compared Saturday’s NC State game to what it was like when he had an exam to take in his school days.
“You know those days when you walk in there and you are like, ‘give me that test.’ You have not seen that test, but you know you were prepared,” he said smiling. “You were committed and prepared for it and you enjoyed the moment because you knew you put the work in.
“Now, also in our careers of academia, growing up somewhere down the line, where you were probably like, ‘Oh crap!’ You did not quite prepare like you needed to and now the moment is here and there is a lot of pressure on you. There is a lot of anxiety on you because you are like, ‘Dang it! I should have studied more.’ Then you get the test and you are like, ‘Oh man! I did not study that chapter.’”
Swinney feels pressure is self-induced and that anyone can control it based on how well they are prepared for the situations or the moments that come along in life, especially when it comes to playing football games.
“I think emotion is a part of the game, energy and all of that, but we have a committed football team and I think they are preparing very well, and you just get excited to go play the game.”