|Swinney makes no excuses for 2-3 start||Tweet|
|by David Hood -- Senior Writer - Friday, October 9, 2009 4:03 PM||
CLEMSON – “No excuses. None. There are no excuses for this football team losing up at Maryland.”
Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney sat down with TigerNet after practice on Wednesday and talked about the recent loss at Maryland and the season to date, and his answers reflect both his passion and desire to get the 2009 season turned around.
In talking about the Maryland loss, Swinney said that the Tigers lacked execution at key points in the game, and that the onus goes back to the coaching staff.
“We just have to coach them better, pure and simple,” Swinney said. “We had wide receivers that catch the ball during the week drop balls, we had five pre-snap penalties, and we had missed tackles and a lack of focus at times. And with all of that, at the end, we had a chance. On the play to C.J. [a called screen in which Spiller slipped], we had the right call, we had two blockers out in front, and there was nobody between him and the end zone.
“It was a touchdown. And he slipped. But honestly, we should have never even been in that position that late in the game. We had too many missed opportunities in the game. Had we focused more early in the game, the outcome would have been a lot different. We have to get that fixed, and trust me; we are going to get that fixed.”
The Tiger offense has generated most of the heat, and with good reason. The Tigers have just two offensive touchdowns in their last 13 quarters of play, and the lack of a sustained drive to score touchdowns is of great concern as Clemson heads into the final stretch of the season.
One reason for the lack of points on offense is the lack of production from a young wide receiving corps, and it has been suggested that the effort to get the ball into the hands of playmakers C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, and as a result a lack of touches by the group, has halted their growth.
“Some of it is that,” Swinney said. “A lot of it is just poor execution more than anything. At Maryland, we had a young wideout who had practiced great all week, and then he dropped two balls and had a holding call. That is frustrating. You have to go back to the little things, and focus on the execution. Yeah, we have a lot of young guys, and we have to do a better job of giving them more opportunities.”
Swinney has come under fire for taking too much of a hand in the play-calling, and that the efforts of Swinney trying to co-coordinate with offensive coordinator Billy Napier are hurting the effort, but Swinney says he has very little input in the actual play calls.
“I am not calling plays,” Swinney said. “Occasionally, I might get asked to make a suggestion, but I am more in trying to manage the game. It might be a situation where I am asked, in a certain spot, do we want to be more aggressive or more conservative, that kind of thing. But I am not calling plays.”
With the 2-3 start the Tigers have suffered, Swinney said that all thoughts about bowl games and ACC Championships have been replaced by a much different mentality.
“Right now, we just have to focus on the next play, not even the next game,” he said. “Just the next play. And it really is that simply. Offensively, we have got some really good, but young, players, in spots, including quarterback. They just have to learn to focus on the next play, and execute the play that is called. We have done a lot of things wrong, but we still have been in a position to win.”
Swinney said that he wanted to come in and change the culture that had permeated the program over the previous 10 seasons, and he is seeing the results of that culture change, even though it is not showing up in the win column.
“We just have to learn to win, to have a commitment to a standard of excellence in every practice and on every play,” Swinney said. “Until we do that, it is hard to play winning football. But that all goes back to coaching, and if we improve just a little bit, we will start winning. We are in this to win, and that is what we will do.”
Swinney said that he remembers when head basketball coach Oliver Purnell took over the program, and he remembers watching Purnell’s first team struggle through a 10-18 season.
“I can remember going into Littlejohn and watching that team play,” Swinney said. “And even though they weren’t winning a lot that first season, you could still see the difference in that team from the team that won more games the year prior to that. You could see the progress, and you knew it was going to turn around for them. We can already see that kind of progress on this football team. We are more physical, and we are starting to do things the right way. It hasn’t translated to the scoreboard yet, but it will.”
|David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org||
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