Swinney takes issue with Hyatt's "average" comment
|Thursday, October 20, 2016, 7:25 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Mitch Hyatt thinks his play on the field this season has been average, and he thinks the play of the offensive line as a whole has been average.
Head coach Dabo Swinney disagrees.
Hyatt, Clemson’s starting left tackle, met with the media earlier this week to discuss the first seven games of the season. As one of the football team’s most intense competitors, Hyatt doesn’t mince words when it came time to discuss his performance or the performance of his line mates.
“I definitely say that our performance has been average or above average, but there are a lot of more things we can do. We have to be more consistent with how we play from week to week and finish blocks better,” Hyatt said. “I think one of our better games was Louisville. We jumped off the ball and got the run game finally going the best we had the whole season up to then. Getting the run game going opened up the pass game better and it was just a better game for us as a whole.”
Hyatt said he needs to be more consistent while improving his performance in pass protection.
“I think I've improved in my technique and have used my hands a lot better,” Hyatt said. “I still need to get better at those things. I'm not where I want to be. I need to improve on my consistency. I have to be more consistent in how I'm playing and stay on my blocks better. If I had to say, I would say that I'm more comfortable with run blocking.”
Swinney learned of Hyatt’s “average” comments and took issue with them, telling the media following Wednesday’s practice that players sometimes feel the pressure to give the media a perfect answer.
"I think he's played great. Sometimes I think these guys think they have to tell y'all something,” Swinney said. “They think they've got to give y'all some kind of answer. These guys have played good. They've played outstanding. Mitch Hyatt is not a robot. He's had some moments where he's missed a play here or there, but he's played good. He played great last year, too. He's 21-1 as a starting left tackle. You don't 21 games with a bad left tackle. He's pretty damn good, I'll tell you that. I understand he said he's average or something like that. That's not the case. Some of these young guys, dealing with y'all they think they've got to tell y'all something that's not accurate."
The Georgia native said he feels like he got off to a slow start to begin the season, but has gotten better as the season has gone along.
“I believe the first two games was a rough start. But, the past few games, the sense of the season has caught up with me,” he said. “I think I've improved my game a lot more. I'm not really sure. I think I just wasn't in the right mind set in the beginning. Once it got more into the season, I started preparing myself better and understanding the situation I was in.”
The offensive line as a whole got off to a slow start in 2016, but Hyatt said after a rough game against Troy, they actually felt like they had one of their better games against N.C. State.
“Troy was our least. Going into the game, we had some confusion on some things,” he said. “Little idiosyncrasies that we weren't prepared for that we should have been prepared for. But, it was our worst game because we didn't get the run game going as much as we wanted to. It wasn't a good game as a whole.
“It's frustrating, but we did move all the way down the field (against N.C State). We were like, 'Oh wow, it was that easy to move it down the field.' Finishing - you can fix that - but being able to move it down the field gave us more confidence.”
It helps Hyatt to have starting right tackle and best friend Jake Fruhmorgen as a roommate. Fruhmorgen has struggled at times recently, but Hyatt said he feels like they’ve managed to talk through their issues.
“We're together every second of the day. We're roommates. We always talk about it and he's just a really good player,” Hyatt said. “He's figured everything out and the one thing that's helped him this year is that he knows the plays like the back of his hand. He doesn't have to worry about them making certain calls or anything. He's just working on his technique and getting better with that.”
With the off week and then the late start, Hyatt and Clemson have a lot of time to prepare for the showdown with Florida State
“It's really exciting. I've never been there, but I've heard a lot about it. I can't wait,” he said. “I heard it's going to be loud, so that will be interesting. I just can't wait. I think playing at Auburn will prepare me a little bit, just having that under my belt. And, in the Auburn game, none of us jumped off sides, we made all the right calls, so I think we'll be ready for this game.
“It's kind of nice playing at night because you can kind of wake up and you're more relaxed and ease into the mindset that you're getting ready to play a game. I like it in a sense, especially for road games.”
And, no matter what happens next Saturday, the thought of losing will never creep into Hyatt’s mind.
“I think that with all the youth we have on our team, we don't know what it's like to lose really,” he said.
“We're all just used to winning and when we're put in that situation we respond different than other teams do. That's how our culture has been for the past two years. I think they started it with the ten game win seasons and we just took off with it from there. “