Clemson coach says they’ll have to do an unbelievable job of getting this group together
As he was heading into fall camp on Friday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was reminded by a member of the media he has a bunch of players on his roster that have never lost a college football game.
Swinney chuckled and responded by saying, “We got a bunch of guys on this team that have never won a game, too. It kind of balances itself out.”
The Tigers’ coach explained last year’s 15-0 team has nothing to do with the 2019 season and there will be constant reminders throughout camp to bring that point home.
“That is what we do. That is a part of our culture here,” Swinney said. “That is why we have been so consistent.”
The conversation reminded Swinney of a question he received during ACC Media Days a few weeks back when a reported ask him how they were going to handle all the pressure that comes with being the team that is being hunted.
“It is just kind of business as usual,” he said. “We have had eight 10-plus win seasons in a row. Every time we show up to play, the other team wants to beat us. That is not anything new this year.
“For us, we have a process that we believe in and that we go through every year, and it does not start now. It started back in January. We are just entering a different phase of our journey for this 2019 team.”
Swinney pointed out the Clemson program has won 15 games in a row, but the 2019 team has not won one game.
“They have not played a game and have not won a game,” he said. “There is no carry over. But, I think, the best part of our program is buying into that year after year after year after year. It has allowed us to be very consistent and be one of the consistent teams in the country.”
Since 2011, Clemson has posted a 97-15 record, won two national championships, played for it three times, four straight College Football Playoff appearances, five ACC Championships and six BCS or CFP Bowl games.
“We start over and we do not assume anything,” Swinney said. “We got to be unbelievable teachers this year. I do think we have recruited well, but we have to connect, we have to teach, and we have to develop well.
“We have a lot of guys that have a long way to go. Last year’s team, I could walk out of my office and meet them next door. Right there. That’s where they were. That team, right out of the gate. This team, I have to walk out of my office, and I have to walk all the way to the indoor facility. We got to meet them where they are. There is a different gap from a coaching and teaching standpoint. So, we will have to do an unbelievable job of getting this group together.”
Swinney said the challenge this year is the same that it is every year. The difference, however, they have 29 freshmen on the roster that are going through camp for the first time. That is why they were very thorough during the first two days after players reported to make sure the team understands who they are.
“You have to have that change and that character, but this team, I think the biggest thing is, can we develop the chemistry,” he said. “That is kind of the next part of it in camp and this phase is really where all of that comes together.”