Tigers go the route of the Buckeyes, mad at Clemson for loss in Playoff
|Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 9:06 PM- -|
It turns out that Clemson players are just like the players at Ohio State. After a disappointing loss to Clemson in a 2020 College Football Playoff semifinal game, the Buckeye players spent all offseason angry at Clemson over the loss and blamed most of their ills on the Tigers. After a disappointing loss to Ohio State in the 2021 College Football Playoff, Clemson players spent all offseason angry at Clemson and blamed most of their ills on themselves.
The Buckeyes defeated the Tigers 49-28 in the Sugar Bowl at the end of December, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, linebacker James Skalski, and safety Nolan Turner spent the first day of spring practice reflecting on the loss. To a man, they pointed the fingers at themselves, particularly Skalski, who was pointed in his comments.
“There are missed assignments and stuff, but I think the most disappointing aspect of that game was we got punched in the mouth and didn't do anything about it,” Skalski said. “We got out-physicaled and they kicked our ass plain and simple. And that is never ok in football. That is rule No. 1 right there. That is what football is all about. We have to be mean, man, and we have to want it. We didn't want it. We didn’t do the little things right. We didn’t have that dog in us, and it showed.”
Swinney didn’t pull any punches, either.
"We stunk," Swinney said. "We were terrible on defense. Probably the worst defensive game we have played since the Orange Bowl in 2011. We got smashed in Miami. It is what it is. We played terrible technique and we got beat upfront. We didn't play perfectly offensively but we played well enough to win the game in a normal defensive game.
"We are 4-2 in Playoff games. We are 2-2 in national championship games. We've been good on that stage. Something else that is so understated on those stages is momentum, especially early. Just little things that create bigger issues and sometimes games can get away. Two years ago, we beat Alabama by 28 points. We weren't 28 points better than Alabama, but we were that day. It comes down to critical plays and critical penalties and mistakes and getting momentum.”
Turner called the loss embarrassing and said the Tigers weren’t prepared.
“This one stung pretty good and was embarrassing. I thought we just got out-physicaled and we didn't adjust well during the game. That is something we are trying to take ownership of us this spring and get better at,” Turner said. “We weren't prepared and didn't prepare the way we should. We had guys running wide open down the field and it's super frustrating and it's something we've taken ownership of. We are here to fix it and get better and grow from it and not let that happen again.”
Swinney took full responsibility for the loss.
"They were just better than us. They lined up and outplayed us. Kicked our tails every which way,” Swinney said. “In the Playoff era, Alabama has eight wins. We have six. Next closest team, Ohio State, has three. If you put those three teams head-to-head, we're 4-3. Alabama is 3-3. Ohio State is 2-3. I wish we were undefeated and certainly disappointed in how we played, but I also think it's important to keep the right perspective. Two years ago, we beat a 14-0 Alabama team by 28 points and it was a bad day for them and good day for us.
"It all comes back to me. It's my responsibility. It comes back to basics and fundamentals. I'd rather know that pain than to never experience it. That's in the rearview mirror. It's now about having a great practice today."