Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is defending himself and his coaching staff amid frustration from a faction of the fan base directed at the Tigers’ offense.
Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei had his least productive game through the air Saturday in the Tigers’ loss to rival South Carolina, setting season-lows for completions (8) and completing rate (27%) while tying a career-low in passing yards (99). Clemson’s passing offense dropped to 84th nationally in the process at 218 yards per game. It’s the fourth-fewest passing yards on average in the ACC and a marginal increase from the 191 yards Clemson threw for per game a season ago when its six-year College Football Playoff run was snapped.
During an appearance on his weekly radio show Monday night, a caller suggested it would be “decision time” for Swinney following the season regarding his staff, which includes first-year offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter and passing-game coordinator Kyle Richardson, who doubles as the tight ends coach.
Swinney scoffed at the notion.
“If there comes a time where people don’t like how I do my job, they can hire somebody else,” Clemson’s 15th-year coach said. “But until then, I ain’t ever going to make decisions based on what other people want me to do. I can tell you that. If I did that, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you tonight. The reality is we’re a 10-2 football team playing for our league title and one of the most consistent teams in the country.
“Nobody’s got their head in the sand. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas, but we know that. If we want to fire the head coach and fire the staff every year if we don’t make the playoff, then you’re going to have a new head coach here very often. And you’re going to have a new staff here every year. (Making the playoff) is not going to happen a lot because there are only four teams. If that’s the mindset of Clemson, there will be a new head coach and there will be a new staff every year. And we’ll be a very mediocre, inconsistent program. That’s how I Iook at it.”
Swinney went on to reiterate he’s going to continue working with his staff to try to improve the Tigers’ problem areas. While he said he understands some of the frustration, he also expressed some of his own in a 12th consecutive 10-win season not being good enough for some fans.
“There’s nobody that works harder to represent Clemson, cares more about Clemson and the brand of Clemson than me. I promise you that,” Swinney said. “Because I know where we’ve come from. And I know when we won that (ACC) championship in 2011, that hadn’t happened in 20 years. We hadn’t won 10 games in 20 years. And now we win 10 games, and it’s like nobody cares. You go to the ACC championship, and nobody cares. That’s not true. A lot of a vocal minority of people don’t care, but I ain’t ever listening to those people. And I ain’t ever going to listen to those people.
“I hear you, but I’m going to keep doing my job. I’ve got bosses, and if they don’t like how I do my job, then they can send me out to pasture. But I’m going to show up every single day and keep giving it everything I’ve got every single day as long as I’ve got breath in my body, and I’m going to surround myself with people that I believe in because that’s what we’ve got here. We’ve got a bunch of great people and great kids that work their butt off to create the consistency that is so rare.”
Clemson will go for a seventh ACC title in the last eight years Saturday when the Tigers face North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
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