It’s not often a coach walks up to another coach and thanks him for beating him by 60 points, but that’s exactly what happened to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney this past May at the ACC Spring Meetings in Amelia Island, Florida.
Last year, the Tigers beat Wake Forest 63-3 behind the running of Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon and Adam Choice. They each went over 100 yards on the ground as Clemson went for 471 yards as a team. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 18 of 21 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns before being pulled at halftime.
The Tigers completely demolished Wake in every part of the game. But Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson thanked Swinney when he saw him in Amelia Island.
“It was kind of weird deal, he thanked me,” Swinney said. “He said it was the best thing that happened to us because it made us better. I think they won five in a row after us. I know they went on a winning streak after our game last year and he just felt like it kind of got some guys focused the way they needed to be and they were able to get better from it.”
Wake finished the year 7-6, winning three of their last four, including a 37-34 win over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl.
“He was disappointed. It was kind of a wake up for his team and kind of got them refocused on the things they need to win games. And they did,” Swinney said. “They responded and they went on to have a really good year.”
That momentum carried over to this season. The Demon Deacons come to Death Valley on Saturday with a 7-2 mark and a 3-2 record in the ACC.
“They are just playing with great discipline. They don’t beat themselves. They are one of the best teams in the country on turnovers…They believe in what they are doing, and they have been relatively healthy and well coached,” Swinney said.
The Tigers and Deacons will kick off at 3:30 p.m., Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by ABC.
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