Gut-punch response: Tigers ready to dust themselves off and get back in the fight


by - Senior Writer -
Swinney says the Tigers are ready to get back in the fight.
Swinney says the Tigers are ready to get back in the fight.

CLEMSON – One of the final two teams off the field will be one of the first teams back on the field, recovered from the gut punch that was the loss to LSU.

Clemson walked out of the Superdome in mid-January already looking ahead to the 2020 season, and with good reason. The Tigers will once again be loaded and will be considered by many as the favorite to win the National Championship. It all gets started in 15 days when the Tigers start spring practice, one of the first teams in the country to get started.

Swinney is confident his team has put the loss to LSU in the proverbial rear-view mirror.

“It was a gut punch,” Swinney said. “We were down for a couple of days and with our profession, and with what these kids are doing, we all come up short sometimes. We all have disappointment."

Swinney said that quarterback Trevor Lawrence has responded the right way to his first loss in over two years.

“I never experienced a loss with him, but he was amazing,” Swinney said. “How he handled it, how the team responded, and you know, back to work.”

The Tigers are now a mainstay as one of the elite teams in college football – Clemson has won two National Championships in the last four years and has appeared in five straight College Football Playoffs. The team has also won five consecutive ACC Atlantic Division titles and five consecutive ACC Championships.

The old adage says that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, and Swinney agrees with it.

“It’s tough. You put so much into it and you know the season has to end,” Swinney said. “But you know what, I'd rather have to deal with that feeling than to never get there and I like the fact that that we were an ACC champion team, we were a Fiesta Bowl champion team, had a playoff win and we were just a few plays away. We got beat by a great team. You know when you play in the games like that you're gonna play a great team, and we're 6-3 in the playoff era in those games. They're hard to win. You have to make the winning plays and there were some winning plays that we didn't make that they made so they won the game. Our guys competed.”

Can the Tigers turn the pain into desire?

“You feel that. You feel that pain — you feel that burden and you want to get it done,” Swinney said. “I've been on both sides of it and I know the agony of it and I know the joy of it. But it's all good. It's all part of life and the journey. You can't have fear of that type of stuff and you just grow. It’s how you respond to a win and respond to a tough loss and our team has been amazing. The leadership's been great and it's been good for me to be able to kind of see that because so many of these guys I was convinced we were never gonna lose again. Win like 250 in a row and ride off into the sunset. We’re probably not gonna win the national championship every year, but hopefully, we can be a team that's got a shot year-in and year-out.

“As a competitor, I have great respect for the team that won. You shake their hand, you tip your hat and you dust yourself off and you get back up and you get back in the fight and that's what we're gonna do. It’s a new year and new decade and a new journey and for us.”

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