Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he will jump into a foxhole with this year’s football team any day of the week.
“I just love everything about this team,” he said. “It is special what I saw.”
What Swinney saw was a team that left everything it had on the field in a double-overtime loss at Notre Dame last Saturday. Despite playing without its starting quarterback, starting defensive tackle and two linebackers, while also overcoming two double-digit deficits, the Tigers found themselves with a seven-point lead with 3:33 to play in the game following a Travis Etienne three-yard touchdown.
However, injuries through the course of the game continue to pile up on Clemson, which aided in the Irish marching down the field and tying the game to force overtime. The Tigers also had a seven-point lead in the first overtime that it could not hold as the injuries continued to mount up on the defensive side of the ball.
Clemson (7-1, 6-1 ACC) lost safety Lannden Zanders, safety Nolan Turner, cornerback Andrew Booth and Sheridan Jones, defensive end Justin Mascoll and defensive tackle Bryan Bresee. The Tigers were already without starting defensive tackle Tyler Davis, middle linebacker James Skalski and strongside backer Mike Jones.
However, Swinney knows his team gave it all they had.
“As a coach that is all you can ask,” he said. “I saw heart. I saw belief. I saw toughness. I saw a team. I saw a will to win. I saw grit. I saw courage and I saw a team fight with everything they had. To me that is special. Those are the hard things you have to have to be a special team. Those are the ingredients to be a championship team.
“So, I am just really proud of our guys. If we learn from it and grow from it. If we play a little cleaner and a little more precise football, we have to help them a little more as coaches. If we can do those things, then we will be where we need to be.”
Clemson will now keep moving forward, as it gets set to visit Florida State on Nov. 21 in Tallahassee, Fla. The Tigers have Saturday off.
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