Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"


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Swinney said after practice this week that the Tigers are getting to where they need to be. (Photos: fotoman)
Swinney said after practice this week that the Tigers are getting to where they need to be. (Photos: fotoman)

CLEMSON – Physical. Intimidating. Smash-mouth. Tough.

Those have been the buzz words surrounding the Clemson football program since Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney took over the program during the 2008 season, and those words have resonated throughout the 2010 preseason camp as Swinney attempts to resurrect the once-fearsome reputation of Clemson football.

Swinney said after practice this week that the Tigers are indeed getting to where he wants them to be, but there is always room for improvement.

“We’re not where I want us to be, but we have made strides," Swinney said of toughness. "We want to be the tougher team in every game this year --that is the mark of a championship team. It's a contact sport; otherwise you'd go out to the track field and sign them up.

“That's what separates all those measurables from good football players. When you have a highly competitive situation with guys that have a lot of pride in their jobs and performances compete against each other, it can't help but make you tougher."

Swinney said that one of things that separates a team built on toughness from one that isn’t is how they handle adversity.

“That’s one of the things that’s a goal for this team,” he said. “Sometimes the kick may go wide left or a guy doesn’t catch a pass or misses a throw, or someone slips off a tackle, but I know this: there should be no question who the toughest team is when Clemson plays. That right there is a goal of mine. We’re not there yet, we’re working toward that, that’s a true mark of any championship team. We made a lot of progress in that area last year but we still have some work to do.”

The Tigers spent the last part of Saturday’s practice working on short-yardage and goal line situations, and the cracks from shoulder pads and helmets could be heard all the way into the Jervey parking lot, and Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel said it’s those types of drills that make a team tougher.
“Coach Swinney and Coach Steele just got through telling us all of that,” McDaniel said. “We did a lot of short-yardage stuff, and it was physical. But toughness is our main focus. We still have a lot to improve on in that part of the game, but everybody is working to get there.”

McDaniel was asked what message the coaches were preaching during those situations, and he said that those situations were held at the end of practice for a reason – to see how much you want to give when you’re hot and tired.

“We just need to be tougher when we get tired,” McDaniel said. “That is what he was telling us. We have to have that same kind of energy at the end of the game, when its third-and-one that we did at the beginning of the game. You just have to dig down and keep fighting.”

The senior Thorpe Award candidate then said that he did some preaching of his own once practice was over.

“I try to keep them motivated, and I told them after practice that we can’t be motivated after a big sack or just when it’s third-and-12, we have to have that same motivation when the other team only has to get one yard,” he said. “You have to tell yourself that they are NOT going to get that one yard. They are not supposed to get it.

“The coaches keep preaching to us that no team is supposed to be more physical than us. Soon, that will be our mentality and we are going to keep working towards that – that nobody will beat us physically. We are just going to keep coming out here in practice and battling each other and making each other tougher.”

Fullback Chad Diehl, widely regarded as one of the most, if not the most, physical players on the team, agreed with McDaniel and said that toughness is all about finishing when you’re tired.

“I feel like we are a tough team, that there is no issue with that,” Diehl said. “Being tough and physical is not the issue. Finishing was more of the issue. With toughness, when you get tired, you still have to finish. It is just natural for a competitor to want to push through.”

Defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins said that instilling toughness in the younger players is the work of veterans.
“It’s then on the older guys to motivate the younger guys, and let them know what Clemson football is all about,” Jenkins said. “You have to have that mindset that on third-and-15, they are not going to complete that pass. You have to have that mindset that you can’t be scored on. That is being tough.”

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said that being tough is a mindset, and you can only achieve that mindset one way – through hard work.

“That is a mindset, and there is only one way to get it and that is work,” he said. “Just work. When you work in a bank and you wear a shirt and tie all day, and then when you get home you have cut your grass, it might feel really hot. But if you work in a coal mine all day, and then go home, it’s not that bad of a job to cut your grass. You just have to get that working mentality.

“At Clemson – you have to be accountable, know your alignment, know your assignment and your technique and play with limitless effort. Dominate your opponent on every play. That is what we are trying to coach them to do. It doesn’t matter when or where you play or how cold it is or how hot is – just go play the next play and dominate your opponent. That’s toughness.”

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Subject (Replies: 25) Author
spacer Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"
B-Meist®
spacer Re: Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"
tonybenson62003
spacer Therein lies the key to Clemson taking full advantage of the
Clemsnman®
spacer TV games have become like marathons ...
Tropical
spacer Pretty much what Ford said in his recent interview
MackDaddy®
spacer Re: Pretty much what Ford said in his recent interview
Dugatiger®
spacer Re: Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"
deleted
spacer So why had we become a country club --- I don't get it***
tigerinlosangeles
spacer TB was more into finesse than physical -- especially on O.
AThomas®
spacer i like that talk, hopefully it will show on saturdays***
tiger_echoes
spacer Love hearing this. Toughness has been lacking in the past
deleted
spacer Seems ridiculous to have forgotten this football fundamental
tigerinlosangeles
spacer It's refreshing to have a coach focusing on toughness and
tatertim®
spacer Not sure if that was the only reason...
WolfMan2
spacer Re: Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"
deleted
spacer This isn't cheerleading; it's his philosophy. This team will
AThomas®
spacer Don't mind steady88....he's a Gamecock.
GBS
spacer It's a risk you have to take
BIG ORANGE
spacer Re: It's a risk you have to take
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer It's a tightrope. Noone wants players to get hurt
WolfMan2
spacer West was missing the talent. The talent took flight after DF
AThomas®
spacer Compare the number of times a trainer came out under TB
IPTAY FAMILY
spacer Re: It's a risk you have to take
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"
Dugatiger®
spacer Re: Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"***
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: Swinney: "There should be no question who the toughest team is"***
allorangeallthetime52®
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