Swinney says Tigers are ahead of last year’s national championship team

Swinney says Tigers are ahead of last year’s national championship team

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Swinney says Tigers are ahead of last year’s national championship team

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After three games to the start of the 2019 season, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says his Tigers are not a championship team at the moment, but they are ahead of where they were last year at this time.

Of course, last year Clemson was also 3-0, which included a win over Texas A&M on the road. The difference, however, was the fact they had one throwaway game in Furman, an FCS team who plays the triple option, and another win over non-Power 5 Conference opponent Georgia Southern.

This year, though, the Tigers have played three Power 5 opponents, including two ACC wins to go along with a 14-point win over Texas A&M in Week 2. They beat Georgia Tech in the season-opener by 38 points and on Saturday they went to Syracuse and beat the Orange by 35 points.

“I would say we are definitely ahead of where we were at this time last year without a doubt,” Swinney said during Sunday’s conference call with the media. “I think, we have been challenged more. So, if we can now just keep improving, I think we have a chance to be a good football team.

“We are not a championship caliber team, right now. But I don’t really know anybody that is in September.”

Despite his optimistic view of his team, Swinney says Clemson, who remained No. 1 in both the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches Poll this week, still has room to improve.

“If we continue to do that then we have a chance to compete for this league and beyond,” he said.

Where can Clemson improve?

“We can improve in all three phases. We got lots of things,” Swinney said. “Defensively, as well as we played (Saturday night), we jumped offside on third-and-four and they go down and score and get some points there. Then we got beat on a post route one time, while playing Cover 2. That should never happen, but fortunately they dropped the ball.

“We had a couple, or two or three times, when we did not fit it right and the quarterback gets outside, and he makes a few plays. So, there is so much we can correct, but you win the game 41-6.”

On offense, Swinney likes the fact the Tigers are so explosive. They had 180 yards after the catch and had four scoring drives against Syracuse that were 70 yards or longer.

“But we are inefficient. Just too many three-and-outs the other night,” Swinney said. “That is indicative of the fact we were poor on third down and it comes down to details and some of the plays that are there we are not making consistently enough. Whether it be finishing the play, finishing the block, making the right throw or whatever … penalties, just a lot of things that have gone into it, but yet we are 3-0 and we have played three Power 5 teams and we have had a little adversity along the way, but yet we have been able to dominate our opponents.

“That is all good and when you look at our scores you might think it is all good, but it is not. We have a lot to improve on and the good thing is we have a group of guys who really care. So, I am excited about our opportunity as a team, if we will stay hungry about improving. I don’t have any doubt that this bunch will do just that.”

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