December 1, 2015

Clemson’s Swinney grabs ACC’s top coaching honor

Swinney is ACC Coach of the Year

Swinney is ACC Coach of the Year

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who led the Tigers to a perfect 12-0 regular season and the nation’s No. 1 ranking, has been voted the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Coach of the Year.

Swinney received 27 of the 50 votes cast by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).  North Carolina’s Larry Fedora placed second in the balloting with 21 votes, while Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi each received one.

Swinney, whose Atlantic Division winners faces Coastal Division champion North Carolina in Saturday night’s Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, directs a 12-0 Tiger squad that has tied a school record for wins in a single season.

“It’s really special,” Swinney said when asked to reflect on the Tigers’ perfect regular season. “I think everybody should take time to embrace that from a Clemson standpoint. We certainly have tried to do that.”

Clemson owns the nation’s longest active winning streak at 15 games, dating back to the final three games of 2014.  The 15 consecutive wins also ties a school record, first set by the Tiger teams of 1947-49.

Clemson’s memorable 2015 season has included wins over No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 16 Florida State. The Tigers rank first in the ACC in total offense (502.5 yards per game) and second in total defense (288.5 yards per game allowed).  Clemson led all schools with 17 players named to the 2015 ACSMA All-ACC team, including a league-high six first-team selections.

Under Swinney’s watch, Clemson stands 44-7 over the last four years, the most victories in a four-year period in school history. The eighth-year head coach owns a 73-26 career record with the Tigers to rank third on the school’s all-time list and stands tied for 13th in ACC history.

With an 8-0 mark against ACC teams during the regular season, the Tigers set a school record for conference wins and finished unbeaten in league play for the first time since the 1991 squad finished 6-0-1.

The ACC Coach of the Year honor is the first for Swinney and the ninth for a Clemson head coach. Tommy Bowden’s 2003 selection was the Tigers’ most recent prior to this season. Clemson’s nine total ACC Coach of the Year selections tie Virginia for the most of any program.

Talking Tuesday: Playoffs, pizza parties and the ACC Championship (AUDIO)

Deshaun Watson dropped 50 points on the Tar Heels last season.

Deshaun Watson dropped 50 points on the Tar Heels last season.

It’s championship week for Clemson.  The unbeaten and top ranked Tigers face a North Carolina team that has won 11 straight games since a  season opening loss against USC. That loss to the Gamecocks, who finished with just three wins, is probably the biggest head scratcher of the 2015 college football season. Interesting sidebar: In 1981 when Clemson played North Carolina the Tar Heels also had only one loss, and it was against the Gamecocks.

In the team meeting room in the West Zone is a poster board that has Clemson’s plan to win. This is the same every week:

  1. Great effort
  2. Win the turnover margin
  3. Make at least two more big plays than the opponent
  4. Be the leas penalized team
  5. Make a difference in special teams

With that out of the way, here are some of the highlights from Dabo Swinney’s comments to the media at his Tuesday news conference:

  • Dabo Swinney is about to coach his 100th game at Clemson.
  • Swinney on UNC: “I think this is a great match up, I really do.”
  • Swinney said he doesn’t see a any weaknesses on the North Carolina offense.
  • Dabo Swinney said they are going to have that pizza party on Sunday. It will happen regardless of the outcome of the game Saturday. They are going to open up Death Valley, get a DJ and “have a big ol’ time” according to Dabo.
  • Swinney said everyone is healthy for the game Saturday night.
  • Swinney said they will never, ever, ever go 12-0 again losing the turnover margin in six games. He said it’s incredible that did that.
  • Dabo Swinney on the ACC: “Our league is strong.” Cites the fact they have a top 10 match up in the title game.
  • Swinney said Larry Fedora has done a remarkable job with the North Carolina program. He’s known Fedora since his UF days.
  • Swinney said Marquise Williams is a lot like Deshaun Watson in that he has great players around him and he makes them all better.
  • Swinney on how UNC loss to USC: “Their quarterback had a bad night. If not it wouldn’t have been close.”

AUDIO: Dabo Swinney




Tigers can’t hold off Gophers in second half (AUDIO)

Roper scored career high 25 points in loss (File Photo)

Roper scored career high 25 points in loss (File Photo)

Clemson held a halftime lead at Minnesota in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday, but was unable to hang on in the second half and the Golden Gophers rallied for an 89-83 win in Williams Arena. The Tigers fell to 4-2 on the season, while Minnesota improved to 5-2. 

Jordan Roper provided the Tigers with a career-high 25 points, and Jaron Blossomgame added a season-best 24. But it was not enough, as the Gophers hit 24-30 from the free throw line and shot 53 percent from the floor. Clemson shot 54 percent and hit 14 three-pointers, its most under head coach Brad Brownell. It was the second time this season Clemson made a double digit total from long range, but Minnesota’s +11 rebound advantage in the second half proved to be a turning point for the Golden Gophers. 

It couldn’t have started much better for the Tigers, who hit nine of their first 12 shots offensively to build a 22-14 advantage. Blossomgame and Roper did the bulk of the scoring, but the basketball was shared well in the opening half. Avry Holmes and Roper combined for seven assists as the Tiger cushion grew to as much as 10 after Holmes buried a deep wing three in front of Gophers coach Richard Pitino. 

Roper finished the half strong after Minnesota had a 9-0 run to pull within a point. First, he took a kickout from senior Landry Nnoko for a corner three and followed with a tip-in as time expired. Clemson led it 42-36 at intermission. It was the most points on an opponent’s home court in a half since the Tigers also posted 42 at Wake Forest in a 2012 win. 

Minnesota took a pair of two-point leads after an 11-4 run to start the second half, but Roper again offered an answer with a three from the wing. Donte Grantham followed a possession later with one, his first score of the game. That gave the Tigers a 54-50 lead. But Minnesota came right back and took a 62-56 lead as fouls began to mount up on the Tigers. 

Holmes hit a huge three from the top of the key that pulled the Tigers within two at 67-65. But that was as close as Clemson would get, as the Gophers converted from the charity stripe and freshman Jordan Murphy’s 24-point, 10-rebound performance was too much to overcome. 

The Tigers face a short turnaround, as they play USC Upstate in Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Wednesday, December 2 at 7 p.m.

Final Stats

Audio: Brad Brownell post game interview via Learfield Sports

Clemson players preview upcoming ACC Championship Game (VIDEO)

Clemson will roll in to Charlotte undefeated and top ranked.

Clemson will roll in to Charlotte undefeated and top ranked.

Top ranked and unbeaten Clemson will play for the ACC Championship Saturday against North Carolina. These two teams didn’t play this season, but the Tigers did notch a 50-35 win over the Tar Heels a year ago in Death Valley. Monday a few Clemson players sat down to preview the upcoming match up.


Clemson sets record with 17 All-ACC selections

Wayne Gallman

Wayne Gallman

A record 17 Clemson players were named to one of three All-ACC teams announced Monday by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). Sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson was joined on the first team by offensive players Eric Mac Lain and Artavis Scott, as well as defensive players Mackensie Alexander, Shaq Lawson and Carlos Watkins.

Clemson’s entire starting offensive line was honored for the first time ever, as Jay Guillermo was a second-team choice, while Tyrone Crowder, Joe Gore and Mitch Hyatt were all third-team selections. Other All-ACC selections on offense were running back Wayne Gallman and tight end Jordan Leggett, who were named to the second team. Placekicker Greg Huegel also got a second-team nod.

Defensively, four Tigers were named to the second and third teams. Starting linebackers Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson were both second-team honorees, along with safety Jayron Kearse. Starting cornerback Cordrea Tankersley was a third-team selection.

Watson concluded the regular season with an ACC-best 3,979 yards of total offense and 36 total touchdowns. A finalist for the Maxwell and O’Brien awards, he also leads the conference with a 161.9 passing efficiency, and is second with 268.6 passing yards per game. Mac Lain, the starting left guard, has had a lot to do with Clemson’s success on offense. The Tigers ended the regular season with eight straight games tallying at least 500 yards on offense, a school record.

Scott is second in the ACC with 6.4 receptions per game, snagging 77 passes for 709 yards and four touchdowns. Leggett, a finalist for the Mackey Award, finished the regular season with 31 receptions from his tight end spot, with six touchdowns. On the ground, Gallman is third among ACC backs with 104.1 rushing yards per game, while contributing nine scores.

Huegel has been quite the success story, converting 21 of 23 field goal attempts. His 91.3 percent clip is tops among ACC kickers. He has made 16 straight entering Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.

Lawson leads the ACC with 20.5 tackles for loss and is fourth with 8.5 sacks. He has had at least one tackle for loss in all but one game, and is a finalist for both the Lombardi and Nagurski awards. Watkins, a defensive tackle, has accumulated 60 stops this season, including six behind the line of scrimmage.

Alexander and Kearse have been big factors behind Clemson’s success against the pass this season. Alexander has five pass breakups in 571 snaps, and has not allowed a touchdown in man coverage all season. Kearse is tied for sixth on the Tiger defense with 70 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. He is second on the team with eight pass breakups as well.

Goodson and Boulware are Clemson’s top two tacklers in 2015 with 118 and 116, respectively. Goodson’s total includes 15 tackles for loss, while Boulware has seven. Goodson is second on the squad with 5.5 sacks, while Boulware is third with six pass breakups.

Tankersley, a third-teamer, leads Clemson with four interceptions on the season. He returned one for a score in the Tigers’ 58-0 rout of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., on October 24. Tankersley has also added a team-high nine pass breakups.

First Team Offense
WR Tyler Boyd Jr. Pitt 147
WR Artavis Scott So. Clemson 130
WR Isaiah Ford So. Virginia Tech 124
TE Jaylen Samuels So. NC State 93
T Roderick Johnson So. Florida State 102
T Joe Thuney Sr.-R NC State 82
G Landon Turner Sr.-R North Carolina 132
G Eric Mac Lain Sr.-R Clemson 113
C Matt Skura Sr.-R Duke 94
QB Deshaun Watson So. Clemson 150
RB Dalvin Cook So. Florida State 150
RB Elijah Hood So. North Carolina 123
PK Roberto Aguayo Jr.-R Florida State 86
Sp. DeVon Edwards Jr.-R Duke 103

First Team Defense

DE Shaq Lawson Jr. Clemson 132
DE Ejuan Price Sr.-R Pitt 111
DT Carlos Watkins Jr.-R Clemson 101
DT Luther Maddy Sr.-R Virginia Tech 60
DT Connor Wujciak Sr.-R Boston College 60
LB Micah Kiser So.-R Virginia 93
LB Brandon Chubb Sr.-R Wake Forest 87
LB Keith Kelsey Jr. Louisville 78
CB Jalen Ramsey Jr. Florida State 122
CB Mackensie Alexander So.-R Clemson 81
S Jeremy Cash Sr.-R Duke 122
S Quin Blanding So. Virginia 88
P Riley Dixon Sr. Syracuse 77
Second Team Offense
WR Travis Rudolph So. Florida State 96
WR Canaan Severin Sr. Virginia 88
WR Mack Hollins Jr.-R North Carolina 63
WR Kermit Whitfield Jr. Florida State 63
TE Jordan Leggett Jr. Clemson 77
T Jon Heck Jr.-R North Carolina 79
T Adam Bisnowaty Jr.-R Pitt 77
G Dorian Johnson Jr. Pitt 49
G Caleb Peterson Jr.-R North Carolina 45
C Jay Guillermo Jr.-R Clemson 88
QB Marquise Williams Sr.-R North Carolina 95
RB Wayne Gallman So.-R Clemson 115
RB Qadree Ollison Fr.-R Pitt 69
PK Greg Huegel Fr.-R Clemson 77
Sp. Ryan Switzer Jr. North Carolina 83

Second Team Defense

DE Mike Rose Sr.-R NC State 96
DE DeMarcus Walker Jr. Florida State 81
DT Nile Lawrence-Stample Sr.-R Florida State 58
DT DeAngelo Brown Jr.-R Louisville 46
LB Steven Daniels Sr. Boston College 65
LB Ben Boulware Jr. Clemson 60
LB B.J. Goodson Sr.-R Clemson 60
LB Reggie Northrup Sr. Florida State 60
CB M.J. Stewart So. North Carolina 65
CB Artie Burns Jr. Miami 51
S Jayron Kearse Jr. Clemson 69
S Justin Simmons Sr. Boston College 47
P Alex Kinal Sr.-R Wake Forest 75
Third Team Offense
WR Stacy Coley Jr. Miami 58
WR Ryan Switzer Jr. North Carolina 34
WR Quinshad Davis Sr. North Carolina 28
TE Bucky Hodges So.-R Virginia Tech 52
T Mitch Hyatt Fr. Clemson 66
T Joe Gore Sr.-R Clemson 59
G Tyrone Crowder So.-R Clemson 39
G Kareem Are Jr.-R Florida State 38
C Lucas Crowley Jr. North Carolina 58
QB Brad Kaaya So. Miami 30
RB Taquan Mizzell Jr. Virginia 43
RB Travon McMillian Fr.-R Virginia Tech 30
PK Ross Martin Sr. Duke 56
Sp. Brisly Estime Jr. Syracuse 34

Third Team Defense

DE Sheldon Rankins Sr. Louisville 47
DE Ron Thompson Jr. Syracuse 24
DT Nazair Jones So.-R North Carolina 33
DT Derrick Nnadi So. Florida State 31
DT Darryl Render Sr. Pitt 31
LB Shakeel Rashad Sr. North Carolina 58
LB James Burgess Sr. Louisville 53
LB Dwayne Norman Sr. Duke 43
CB Cordrea Tankersley Jr. Clemson 47
CB Des Lawrence Jr. North Carolina 45
S Jordan Whitehead Fr. Pitt 41
S Derwin James Fr. Florida State 30
P Will Monday Sr.-R Duke 39
Honorable Mention Offense
TE Cam Serigne So.-R Wake Forest 39
T Bryan Chamberlain Sr.-R Georgia Tech 29
T Casey Blaser Jr.-R Duke 23
T Geron Christian Fr. Louisville 20
G Chad Mavety Jr.-R Florida State 36
G Lucas Patrick Sr.-R Duke 35
G Ross Burbank Sr.-R Virginia 28
G Trey Braun Sr.-R Georgia Tech 25
C Quinton Schooley Sr. NC State 23
RB Matt Dayes Jr. NC State 29
RB Joe Yearby So. Miami 26
PK Nick Weiler Jr. North Carolina 36
PK Michael Badgley So. Miami 27
Sp. Nyheim Hines Fr. NC State 25
Sp. Kermit Whitfield Jr. Florida State 23
Sp. Bra’Lon Cherry Jr. NC State 22

Honorable Mention Defense

DE Kevin Dodd Jr.-R Clemson 22
DT Adam Gotsis Sr. Georgia Tech 28
DT David Dean Sr.-R Virginia 28
DT Corey Marshall Sr.-R Virginia Tech 21
LB Trevon Young Jr. Louisville 41
LB Terrance Smith Sr.-R Florida State 39
LB Devonte Fields Jr. Louisville 39
LB Matt Milano Jr. Boston College 38
LB Jeff Schoettmer Sr.-R North Carolina 25
CB Trumaine Washington So. Louisville 38
CB Shaq Wiggins So.-R Louisville 23
CB Avonte Maddox So. Pitt 21
S Deon Bush Sr. Miami 29
S DeVon Edwards Jr.-R Duke 27
S Donnie Miles So.-R North Carolina 26
S Josh Harvey-Clemons Jr.-R Louisville 21
S Lamarcus Brutus Sr.-R Florida State 20
P Nicholas Conte Jr.-R Virginia 31
P Cason Beatty Sr. Florida State 27
P Alex Howell Sr.-R Boston College 24