There was no one in Charlotte, North Carolina last week that wanted to win more than Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. But it was not meant to be.
Though the Clemson defense held No. 2 Georgia without an offensive touchdown, the Tigers’ offense could not find the end zone either in a 10-3 loss, as they made too many mistakes and totaled just 180 yards of offense.
But today is a new day. Clemson has an opportunity to get better and also try to get a victory, as the sixth-ranked Tigers host S.C. State at Death Valley for a 5 p.m. kick.
“I am disappointed that we did not win the (Georgia) game, but what an opportunity for us to learn and grow from it. We will do that,” Swinney said to Mark Packer Thursday on his Off Campus Show on ESPNU Radio. “I am really proud of our team. Again, with the fight, the toughness, and the character that I saw. And then, more importantly, how they responded and how they have practiced this week.
“It has been a great week of practice. If you watched us practice this week, compared to last week, you would not know who we were playing. I think that is a sign of a lot of maturity on this team. A lot of leadership and good perspective.”
Though the Tigers (0-1) are heavily favored to win against S.C. State, Swinney and the Clemson coaches will not be looking at what the final score says. They want to see if the team got better from Week 1 to Week 2. They want to see if they truly learned from the mistakes they made against Georgia and corrected them.
“The positive is the physicality, their toughness. They expected to win all the way to the last second,” Swinney said. “Their will to win and just how they stayed together. That was a huge positive.”
Earlier in the week, Swinney said the offense made too many critical mistakes in the Georgia game to overcome them.
“We got a lot to improve on, especially offensively. But we will because we have a team that cares and it is very important to them,” the Clemson head coach said. “But we have to improve our precision. We have to improve on our details, our fundamentals and we have to eliminate the critical mistakes.
“That is what football is all about. Football punishes you for mistakes and it awards precision and details. That is what the difference in the game was the other night.”
The good news for Clemson is its defense will be there to carry the offense as it gets better. The Tigers held Georgia to just 256 total yards. Georgia ran for just 121 yards and completed just two passes of nine or more yards all night.
“Then defensively, they were dominant. They gave up three points,” Swinney said. “The offense did not help. They were on the field a lot. They did not get tired. They got better as the game went on. They created a turnover. A huge turnover. Special teams created a turnover. So, there was a lot of positives.”
Now the Tigers hope those positives can help clean up the mistakes and get them back on track as the season moves on.
Football season has finally arrived. Time to represent your Tigers and show your stripes!