Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship


by - Senior Writer -
Discuss on TigerBoard   Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed
Swinney reacts after Clemson's win at Boston College
Swinney reacts after Clemson's win at Boston College

It seems as though not everybody agreed with Dabo Swinney’s decision to try for an onside kick in the third quarter of the Tigers’ eventual 56-10 win at Boston College Friday night. And that’s ok. He doesn’t have to make an angry segment of the fans happy, and he doesn’t have to make sportswriters happy.

He’s trying to win the national championship that eluded the school last season.

In case you missed it, and I doubt you did, Clemson went for an onside kick up 35-3 in the third quarter against Boston College, following the second of Deon Cain’s two touchdown receptions. The kick sailed out of bounds, Boston College got the football on a short field and turned into its only touchdown of the evening.

Yahoo sports decided they needed to write an article about it, and I sat in the press box at Alumni Stadium and watched my Twitter feed explode with words like “trashy” and “classless” and “bad sportsmanship.” I even got a text from a friend that said, simply, “What in the world?”

People aren’t used to seeing Clemson – or Swinney – go for it like that when leading by 32. They are used to a coach who backs off early, who agrees to shorten the last two quarters against South Carolina St. They’re also used to a program that sometimes backs off too early and lets the opponent back in the game.

Swinney’s statement Friday was simple: Not anymore.

Swinney was also irate with Cain at the end of the first half. Clemson led 21-3 and got the ball back with under a minute to go and elected to get into field goal range. Cain caught a 23-yard pass from Deshaun Watson inside the Eagle 30 yard line, but instead of going down and preserving time, Cain fought for a few more yards and ran out the clock.

Swinney stayed in Cain’s ear from the sideline all the way to the locker room, prompting another text from a friend who wondered if Swinney was “too tight” and jumping all over the players for no good reason.

We asked him about that play, and the onside kick in the postgame press conference, and his answer was the one I expected to hear.

"Yeah, we're trying to get better as a football team, and any time you have opportunities to work through unusual situations, you want to do that,” Swinney said. “I wasn't really worried about the score, I just wanted to coach to our standard. We practiced that exact same, we practice that. We practice it in fall camp, we script it in the stadium, and I was so frustrated because we called time out, and we said exactly what we had to do, and then when you have a moment of insanity. It's so frustrating. So it's a teachable moment.

“It's an opportunity to get better from that. I mean, we knew exactly what was going to happen. We were going to be wide open over the middle, catch the ball, get down, call a time-out, kick a field goal and go into half, and man, what a great drive. There's eight seconds. This is what we practice. So just very disappointed with our execution right there, but good job getting down there, good job putting ourselves in that situation, and it was a good opportunity to practice or have a live rep at what we practice, and it was frustrating that we didn't execute it properly. That's on me, and we've got to clean that up because those are things that could be the difference in a ballgame down the road."

It was just one play, people said. He didn’t have to react the way he did. But I go back to something he said at his media outing in July, when he talked about the fact that just a few plays made the difference in being number one and number two in mid-January.

Swinney later went for it on fourth down deep in Boston College territory instead of kicking the field goal, and at that point his message was perfectly clear. No more letting off the gas. No more sitting back and waiting on an opponent to catch up. The Tigers failed to put Georgia Tech away. They failed to put Troy away. They failed to put Auburn away. They failed to step on Louisville’s neck when they had the chance.

During his July golf outing with the media, Swinney got intense when he was asked about how a few plays can make or a break a season, and he said it’s a message he presented to his team during the spring. He started with the loss to Bama.

“I took five plays that really had nothing to do with the opponent,” Swinney said. “It was a message as we started in the spring that it's all about Clemson. It's all about what we can control. It's not about anything else and let's take care of us. I started with our best player (Deshaun Watson) because he had two plays in that game that were critical mistakes. They were critical errors. It was kind of an easy way to transfer into spring practice and make sure everybody had their mind right as we got back to basics. Because it was the little things that cost us in that game. We made a couple of mistakes. And when you're in a game like that and you're playing an opponent like that, it is a few plays.

“Yes, there are some games where we have a bigger margin for error. But when you're playing championship caliber football, and it's really good-on-good kind of even, it's really a few plays. And of the five that I presented, if you could change two of them the outcome is probably different. But you can't change them.”

Following Friday night’s demolition of Boston College, it’s easy to see that Swinney has a championship-caliber team on his hands. This team is solid in all phases of the game, and that includes special teams. During his Sunday teleconference with the media, he bristled at the idea that the season was half over, saying the goal is to play 15 games. That means playing in an ACC title game, winning a game in the College Football Playoff and playing for the championship for the second year in a row.

If that is going to happen, the Tigers have to be a few plays better than they were last season, and Swinney isn’t waiting on the players to get the message on their own. He’s sending a message to his team, his coaches and the opponents and it’s loud and clear.

He doesn’t care if that hurts a few feelings along the way. He’s trying to win a National Championship.

And that’s okay, right?

Rate this Story:
146 votes

Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment
Discuss on TigerBoard   Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed
Post your comments!
Subject (Replies: 69) Author
spacer New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
TigerNet News
spacer He'll hurt my feelings if we don't hang 70 on the coots.
Bubbatiger84®
spacer Re: He'll hurt my feelings if we don't hang 70 on the coots.
79BSEDUC®
spacer We will. I think Dabo felt sorry for Elliot but Muschamp is just an entitled #########
The hillbilly beater®
spacer Re: We will. I think Dabo felt sorry for Elliot but Muschamp is just an entitled #########
ddclemson
spacer Excellent***
CTNucEm®
spacer Cannot think of better time to practice the onside kick
HuntClub®
spacer Re: Cannot think of better time to practice the onside kick
lorenelynn
spacer Re: Cannot think of better time to practice the onside kick
David78®
spacer Re: Cannot think of better time to practice the onside kick
wewillROCKyou
spacer The timing of trying to work new things live game was perfect.
jarheadtiger®
spacer Yes, it's more than okay.
NorthwestPurple®
spacer "!"***
sspassport®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
CU1976
spacer Keep that hammer down!!***
Hi Cotton Tiger®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
kelley21®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
Tiger1UP
spacer That's more than okay
David78®
spacer Re: That's more than okay
Tiger Quads®
spacer Re: That's more than okay
Dugatiger®
spacer Re: That's more than okay
David78®
spacer Re: That's more than okay
Dugatiger®
spacer Kitty Parts!!!!!!
71PR
spacer Re: That's more than okay
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
tigers69
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
whatweeatin
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
TigerMascot25
spacer Michigan says "Hi" after hanging 78 on Rutgers (A D1 school)
Knutz
spacer Michegan just kept running the ball
Neal in NC®
spacer Similar to uga...
clawpaw®
spacer Dabo's got it on straight
silvavocati
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
Xena®
spacer well, alright, Dabo!!!!
freakgeek
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Did anybody write up Michigan and Harbaugh going for 2 Pt. conversion
dkmoore1975
spacer I wonder if USC feels comfortable
tigerzeye
spacer Coach had every right to be upset about the play right
colberttiger
spacer Re: Coach had every right to be upset about the play right
ddclemson
spacer Dabo has grown into a #### of a coach***
paw prince
spacer Re: Dabo has grown into a #### of a coach***
clemson7024
spacer Heres my thoughts on this
clemson7024
spacer Re: Heres my thoughts on this
Southeasterntiger
spacer Re: Heres my thoughts on this
robbensdale®
spacer I thought Mack Brown did a fine job explaining why a coach
joeyb®
spacer Re: I thought Mack Brown did a fine job explaining why a coach
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer ive never been a fan of running up the score on anybody but...
ALLweatherfan®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
mtlloyd67
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
footballmanager
spacer It was pretty clearly a classless move which is why there is
CharlestonTom®
spacer Re: It was pretty clearly a classless move which is why there is
footballmanager
spacer Re: It was pretty clearly a classless move which is why there is
bstew
spacer Awww.... are your feelings hurt....Nice coaches finish last***
paw prince
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
SouthernTiger09
spacer Hallelujah praise the Lord!
InletTiger15®
spacer Re: Hallelujah praise the Lord!
ddclemson
spacer It's a dumb move, but has nothing to do with sportsmanship
IPTAY FAMILY
spacer HURT FEELINGS?!?!?!
wesdg007
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
garden city tiger
spacer Folks on all sides need to think a bit more critically . . .
mrmatt
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
nana2013
spacer THIS is what I've been SCREAMING for!!
OneJedi
spacer Music to my ears.***
Tiger Woods
spacer 1981
79BSEDUC®
spacer John Wooden won 8-9 championships without berating players
epifunny
spacer Wooden actually won 10 championships
cutigersco
spacer Great to see Dabo and Big Ben stand up for WINNING FB!***
tigeron®
spacer The most successful people
CU1509®
spacer Re: New Story: Swinney not here to protect feelings; it's all about a championship
tigernation2000
spacer Man...if he starts on Deshaun's Heisman run using them
Tickled Orange
Georgia OT picks up Clemson offer
Georgia OT picks up Clemson offer
Quarterback: Battle for starting spot heads into final week of fall camp
Quarterback: Battle for starting spot heads into final week of fall camp
WATCH: Deshaun Watson leads Texans 79 yards for first TD back
WATCH: Deshaun Watson leads Texans 79 yards for first TD back
WATCH: Mike Williams with remarkable TD grab
WATCH: Mike Williams with remarkable TD grab
Swinney looking forward to "interesting bus ride" into LSU's Death Valley
Swinney looking forward to "interesting bus ride" into LSU's Death Valley
Thursday's scrimmage a battle of the elite versus the elite
Thursday's scrimmage a battle of the elite versus the elite
Unfinished Business: Mark Fields looking to put it all together in 2018
Unfinished Business: Mark Fields looking to put it all together in 2018
WATCH: Deshaun Watson hype video "Doubted"
WATCH: Deshaun Watson hype video "Doubted"
Fox Sports analyst thinks Deshaun Watson could 'change the sport' of football
Fox Sports analyst thinks Deshaun Watson could 'change the sport' of football
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Breaking
Daily Digest