Swinney responds to Kirk Herbstreit on Clemson's playoff chances
|Thursday, September 21, 2017, 8:08 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Head coach Dabo Swinney appreciates the sentiment set forth by ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit Wednesday, but wants to remind everyone that champions aren’t crowned in the month of November.
Herbstreit made his statement Wednesday on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike show.
“They are clearly, in my opinion, the team to beat in the ACC,” Herbstreit said of the Tigers. “They look like they are headed back to the playoff. Their defense is frightening. That defensive line, the linebackers, the safeties, the corners. Brent Venables is maybe one of the best defensive minds in the last three years.
"So, everything is there. And most importantly, even though they won a championship last year, somehow they found a way to play with a chip on their shoulder. They are mad at everybody and that’s always a good thing when you play football.”
TigerNet spoke with Swinney following Wednesday’s practice, and he smiled when he was told about Herbstreit’s comment.
“I just think it’s kind of funny. It’s great, it really is, but we’re kind of in the same spot we were last year,” Swinney said. “Last year, everybody was talking about how bad we were. It’s just amazing. We go to Auburn – 9 p.m., road game, opener and we win 19-13 and it’s, ‘What is wrong with the team? They’re terrible. We should’ve killed them.’ Then we beat a good Louisville team and nobody wanted to give us credit for winning.”
Swinney said the difference between this season’s early-season narrative and the one from last season comes down to one word.
“It’s called expectations. Last year they were so high and then the expectations were so low this year by a lot of outside people, and then all of a sudden we play well,” he said. “We’re still making a lot of mistakes, but the perception is so different. It’s interesting to me because we’re 3-0 like we were last year.”
He then went on to say that he thinks he has a championship-caliber club, but only if they keep doing things the right way.
“I think we’re a good team, but we’re not a championship team yet. We’ve got a long way to go,” Swinney said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who have got to develop. We’ve got some discipline in areas we’ve got to improve in. We’ve got to protect our quarterback better. We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to improve on. We’re a good team and I think we’re one of the teams that has a chance, which is where you want to be, but we’re just 3-0.
“I appreciate the compliments and all of that stuff, but we’ve got to keep our nose to the grindstone and handle our business because you don’t win it in September. I’ve seen a lot of teams anointed in September and everybody is looking to see where the heck they are in November. They’re gone. We’ve got to keep climbing, keep handling our business, keep getting better, stay focused, don’t get distracted by the big picture, just stay locked in on what we’re doing week in and week out. If we do that and get a break here or break there, we might have a chance.”