Swinney well-versed on Clemson-UGA rivalry

by - Senior Writer -
Dabo Swinney said he is very familiar with the classic Clemson-UGA games from the 80's.
Dabo Swinney said he is very familiar with the classic Clemson-UGA games from the 80's.

They high-water mark of the Clemson-Georgia rivalry, at least from a Clemson perspective, were the years that the best teams of Clemson’s Danny Ford Danny Ford
Former Head Coach
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went head-to-head with some of the best teams of Georgia’s Vince Dooley.

Ford and Dooley coached against each other nine times in that period, and Georgia outscored Clemson by exactly one point – 153-152. Ford and Dooley were 4-4-1 against each other in that time span, and as it turns out, Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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is very familiar with what happened during those games in the 1980’s.

“You know that Woody McCorvey (who was an assistant under Ford) was my position coach at Alabama, and then I coached with him for eight years,” Swinney said Thursday evening following practice. “And then there is Danny PearmanDanny Pearman
Assistant Head Coach / Tight Ends
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, Bill Oliver, Ellis Johnson – I have spent a lot of time with all those guys and I was well-versed in Clemson of the 80’s because of my many years at Alabama playing with those guys and working with those guys, and they always talked about their time at Clemson.

“I worked with Curley Hallman, who was here on the National Championship team. Of course, Hootie Ingram wasn’t here in the 80’s but he was my Athletic Director at Alabama. So I’ve probably heard more and probably know more of the guys from the 80’s than any other decade, and hopefully those guys can rub off on us a little bit.”

Swinney’s first game at Clemson also happened to be against Georgia – on August 30th, 2003 – a 30-0 win for the 11th-ranked Bulldogs.

“Yeah, I’ve tried to forget that, thanks for reminding me,” Swinney said, smiling. “I had just about filed that away and it was gone and you just reminded me. Yeah, I remember that. [David] Pollack was awesome. I can remember, I think they hit a post on Justin MillerJustin Miller
Defensive Back
# 5-10, 190
Owensboro, KY

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early in the game, No. 82 {Fred Gibson] I think was the guy’s number. Oh my goodness. That was not how I wanted to start off my Clemson career. I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into?’ But they were a really good football team, and we were pretty average at that point. Especially early. We got better as the season went on, but we were pretty average that night."

The Bulldogs have won the last five in the series, and this year’s game carries national implications because both teams are ranked in the Top 10 nationally, but Swinney said he can’t let his players get too caught up in the hype of one game.

“It is just an opener. At the end of the day, it’s just an opener,” he said. “I know it’s a monster game and trust me, I understand that. But it’s just an opener. But we are going to learn from it, regardless of how it ends up on the scoreboard. We are going to learn a lot about our team and we are going to grow from it and we are going to get better. If we win the game, there are still mistakes that are going to be made. We have to get better.

“Our goals are much bigger than the opener. We have a lot of games – we have 12 games on our schedule. We want to be the very best that we can possibly be. Measuring stick? Maybe two great teams, how much did we get done in camp, how much retention, maybe some of these young guys are they ready to respond? Last year was much the same thing. We felt like we knew but you just never know until you go play.”

Swinney said that the winner will be the team that makes the least number of mistakes and handles the adversity.

“The margin for error to win a game like that is very small. You have to handle the adversity,” he said. “You can’t put your head down and pout. You have to keep playing. Next man up. There are a lot of lessons they can draw. But if you are going to win a game against a legitimate Top 10 team, you have to handle the adversity, minimize your mistakes and overcome the ones that you have, win the turnover battle and make the plays when you have the chance.”

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