Nothing has changed for Clemson despite Saturday’s loss to Pitt. That’s the message Dabo Swinney conveyed to his audience far and wide at his Tuesday news conference. And if the CFP committee today keeps the Tigers in the top four, Swinney will be correct.
The Tigers still control their destiny when it comes to most of their remaining goals which are to win the ACC Atlantic Division, win the state championship and win the ACC Championship Game. And should they be one of the top four teams by the committee tonight, the Tigers will still control their post-season future.
Swinney said he embraces the “win ’em all” mentality and Clemson and minus a few players here and there Saturday, the Tigers would still be unbeaten. But, he added, the Panthers deserved the victory because they made the plays and his team didn’t.
Swinney also defended the offensive game plan that led to a school record 70 passes thrown by Deshaun Watson explaining that 630 yards of offense is incredible regardless how it’s attained. Swinney pointed out the Panthers set up defensively to stop the run and it made little sense to challenge them on the ground.
Swinney said starting left tackle Mitch Hyatt, who has a foot injury that kept him out last weekend, looked good in practice Monday and he’s hopeful he can play this Saturday at Wake Forest. He said starting right tackle Jake Fruhmorgen remains away from the team for personal reasons and he has no idea when he’ll return.
In the absence of his two tackles last week, Swinney was forced to start a pair of freshmen in Tremayne Anchrum and Sean Pollard and said both held up extremely well. He noted the Tigers allowed just one sack in the 70 pass attempts.
Defensive tackle Scott Pagano, Swinney said, remains out with a leg injury but he should be back for a bowl game or the playoff game. In his absence Swinney said Jabril Robinson and Albert Huggins need to step up to give the defensive line depth moving forward.
The Tigers will go to Wake Forest seeking their four outright division title since 2009. The Tigers have won seven in a row over the Demon Deacons by a combined scored of 264-94 but this is a much improved Wake Forest team that is 6-4 overall, 3-3 in the ACC and 4-1 at home. The Deacons are much improved on defense and are 6th in the league in total defense, 4th in scoring and 1st in turnover margin.
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