Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell met with the media on Tuesday during the Cheez-It Bowl Head Coaches Press Conference at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla., ahead of the two teams’ bowl matchup Wednesday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Swinney was asked how he would describe the current state of his program, and he gave a concise answer — at first.
“As good as it’s ever been,” he said.
Swinney was asked to elaborate on his response, then rattled off reasons why he thinks Clemson’s program is in as good of shape as ever — starting with the personnel that will be back on its roster next season, as well as the 2022 recruiting class that the Tigers signed earlier this month.
“Well, we’ve got a great young nucleus of players,” he said. “We’ve got just about everybody back. There’s not a single lineman that’s going to play that’s not back. All the running backs are back. Eventually, we’ll get all these receivers back. We’ve got an unbelievable tight end room. We’ve got a great young quarterback that’s gotten better and better through the year.”
“We’ve got a great recruiting class coming in, nine midyears,” Swinney continued. “We’ve got a pretty good defensive line. We might lose one, but they could all be back. Everybody inside is back. We may lose a corner. We’re definitely going to lose one. We’re going to lose one safety, a couple linebackers, but we’ve got all those great young guys that have gained a lot of experience. We’ve got our kicker back, he’s pretty good. We’ve got a couple good young snappers that nobody knows about that can zip that sucker back there. We’ve still got another Swinney to hold the ball.”
Swinney added Clemson also has a “a great coaching staff,” and that “we still are in Clemson, South Carolina.”
“We’ve got the best game-day experience, environment in the country,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know what else I could say.”
Swinney also pointed out that Clemson (9-3, 6-2 ACC) saw its three losses this season come to Georgia (the No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff), eventual ACC Champion Pittsburgh, and NC State (No. 18 in the final CFP rankings) in double-overtime in Raleigh.
“We just won nine football games, and we’re a couple plays away from being in the playoff as well,” Swinney said. “We lost to a good Georgia team on a pick-six. They’re pretty good. We lost to a really good NC State team in September, at their place, in double overtime. We lost to the ACC Champion, Pitt, that just made a couple more plays than we did. But our team competed every snap, all year, and never made any excuses — and they’re all here.
“So, if you can’t get excited about that, I don’t know what else there is to be excited about.”
Swinney certainly feels his program is in a better spot now than it was a decade ago.
“So, we’ve got, again, a great group of people,” he said. “We’ve won with people, and we’ve still got a great group of people. So, we’re in a lot better shape today than we were 10 years ago, I can tell you that.”
“Is that elaboration enough?” Swinney, added smiling.
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