The Clemson defense allowed just 12 points in Saturday’s win over Furman, but that low number did not accurately depict the overall performance and effort of that group in eyes of head coach Dabo Swinney. During his Tuesday press conference, Swinney gave the Paladins their due, then he ripped his defense to shreds with criticism the media seldom have heard from Swinney.
Swinney bluntly said his defense did not show up against Furman when they allowed 384 yards, or 147 more yards than Georgia Tech gained in the season opener. “They all stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn,” Swinney of his defenders.
Swinney was particularly irked by what he perceived as an overall lack of effort on the defense, and he stressed that needed to change immediately, especially with pass happy Louisiana Tech coming to Clemson Saturday night. And he emphasized he is judge and jury when it comes to determining who is not playing hard. “Sometimes the coach doesn’t think it’s a loaf, but if I think it’s a loaf, it’s a loaf,” said Swinney.
Swinney said the defense did not bring the “juice” against the Paladins. He also felt the defensive execution was not up to the program’s standards. He felt they did a poor job against slants, a poor job in man coverage and they need to be more disciplined in their assignments.
Swinney said the overall defensive performance was so poor, the coaches did not select a defensive player of the game as they did for the offense and special teams. He did say, however, he’s pleased they haven’t given up the big play in two games. The longest pass completion allowed thus far is 28 yards, and the longest run is 15 yards, both occurring in the Furman game.
Offensively, Swinney seemed very pleased with the progress of quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, citing his poise and his quick reaction to correcting mistakes. He pointed out the Tigers have scored on half of their 24 possessions to date. But he’s not happy that the offense and defense are not playing complementary football and not putting together a complete game.
As for the injured, Swinney said DE Xavier Thomas and DT Tyler Davis are close to being healthy enough to play. He also said DT Bryan Bresee may or may not play depending on the health status of his sister Ella who has been battling cancer.
Some other key notes from Swinney Tuesday:
- Tech is good team, has some “dudes,” 17 starters back, 24 transfers.
- Air Raid offense from LaTech, lots of experience up front, they have two quarterbacks, played Missouri a competitive game except for the turnovers.
- On defense, LaTech will play a lot of man coverage, he loves the MLB, not a lot of depth up front in their four-man front, good group, active and twitchy.
- Excited about a night game, needs a big crowd, winning isn’t easy, can’t take it for granted as a fan, need to support the team, the team will be ready to play hard.
- After what happened last weekend in college football, can’t take anything for granted, these are young men who can be up and down and the game is not played on paper.