Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gave some good news and some bad news when he held his Sunday coaches teleconference to preview next Saturday’s ACC Championship Game against Pittsburgh in Charlotte.
“The bad news is we played our worst game defensively. The good news is we are a lot better than that and we all know that and have a bunch of video to show it,” he said.
The Tigers (12-0) gave up 600 yards in their 56-35 victory over rival South Carolina Saturday night at Death Valley. It was the most yards a Brent Venables defense has allowed since his first year at Clemson back in 2012.
Gamecocks’ quarterback Jake Bentley looked like a Heisman Trophy finalist, passing for 510 yards on 32-of-50 passes and five touchdowns.
“Defensively, it was just a poor night and it was really just a few guys,” Swinney said. “I thought our effort was good. We did not play smart. I football awareness was poor.”
Swinney said the secondary had several busts, played with poor eyes and missed alignments and missed assignments.
“We had poor technique. We did not do a good job of getting up and challenging the receivers,” he said. “There were just a lot of things we did a poor job with. For whatever reason, it was kind of just one thing after another.”
All of it allowed Bentley to find wide open receivers all night. Deebo Samuel caught 10 passes for 210 yards, while Shi Smith hauled in nine passes for 109 yards. Samuel had three touchdown receptions, including scores of 75 and 32 yards.
“Give them credit. Their quarterback played great and obviously (Samuel) and (Smith) had career nights, but you know what, we have to own that,” Swinney said. “Nobody is happy about how we played defensively outside of the fact that we did had two goal line stands, a turnover and three sacks.
“It just was not anywhere near our standard defensively around here. We know we have to get back to work. It was just a bunch of basic things we did not do right and they had some wrinkles too that we did not adjust to well as coaches, but we will learn from it and it will makes us better.”