Swinney equates making birdies to winning football games

Swinney equates making birdies to winning football games

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Swinney equates making birdies to winning football games

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Clemson coach praises North Carolina’s football team

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — When Dabo Swinney makes a birdie in golf, it is something to marvel at.

“Most times when I make a birdie, it usually hits off a tree and runs across the green, hits off the golf cart, bounces back up real close to the flag and I put it in,” he said while smiling. “I write three on my scorecard. There ain’t no pictures on the scorecard.”

Clemson’s head coach feels the same way about winning a football game, though there were plenty of pictures documenting how the Tigers’ won an ugly game at Chapel Hill. However, on the scorecard, no matter how ugly, Clemson can still put a check in the win column, and that is all that matters in the end.

“I rather learn lessons with a win than learn lessons with a loss any day,” Swinney said following Clemson’s 21-20 win at North Carolina on Saturday.

The win was Clemson’s 20th straight overall, the longest win streak in the country. It also came a day short of a year when the Tigers scored 14 fourth quarter points to beat Syracuse. That was the last time any team came close to beating the Tigers during a streak in which they won 14 straight games by 14 or more points, tied for the third longest stretch in the history of the AP Poll era.

“It is not easy to win. I know, we are supposed to just show up and beat everybody by double digits and all of that, but this is college football,” Swinney said.

Though he was proud of the way his players dug down and found away to make one more play than UNC, Swinney was also impressed with the Tar Heels.

“How about North Carolina? Man, what can you say about that group? Unbelievable effort,” Swinney said. “You know, that is what happens when you give a team momentum and they are in a game like that. I thought their plan was excellent, as far as trying to really slow the game down.

“They made us put long drives together to see if we could not make mistakes and we proved that we were very capable of making mistakes.”

Swinney said the longer the game went on, and North Carolina remained close, he knew they had a problem on their hands.

“I knew that coming in. I told our guys that these guys are good enough to beat us. They are good enough to beat anybody in this league. No doubt,” Swinney said.

But at the end of the day, the Tigers found a way to win, again.

“This is one week, and in college football that is all that matters,” Swinney said. “This is a week-to-week deal. It is hard to win. Now when you can go on the road and win, especially when you don’t play your best game, I give our guys a lot of credit.”

Swinney beats another championship coach. Saturday’s game was a matchup of two of the five active head coaches with FBS national championships to their credit. With the victory, head coach Dabo Swinney now has at least one career win against every active national championship head coach (Mack Brown, Jimbo Fisher, Les Miles and Nick Saban), including wins against Brown, Fisher and Saban in Clemson’s last six games.

Clemson can win close games, too. With the victory, Clemson improved to 25-4 in one-possession contests since 2011. It marked Clemson’s first game within 14 points in 364 days, dating to a 27-23 win against Syracuse on Sept. 29, 2018. Clemson’s .862 winning percentage in one-possession games since 2011 is the highest in the FBS in that time span. The game was Clemson’s first one-point victory since the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 25-24 victory against LSU.

Lawrence passes some legends. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 18-of-30 passes for 206 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also recorded career highs in rush attempts (11), rushing yards (45) and recorded a three-yard touchdown run. During the game, Lawrence (4,411) passed Steve Fuller (4,359) for ninth-most career passing yards in school history. With 251 yards of total offense in the game, Lawrence (4,688) passed Homer Jordan (4,614) to enter the Top 10 in career total offense in school history.

Sack masters. Clemson recorded multiple sacks for a 13th consecutive game for the first time since the 2012-13 seasons. It marks Clemson’s fifth multi-sack streak of 13 games or more since 1980 (18 from 1991-92, 17 from 1998-99, 15 from 2012-13, 14 from 2000-01).

–­Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story

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