CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney met the media after practice on Wednesday night.
The head coach was asked what “sage advice he’d offer Clemson fans that are near the ledge” after Tuesday night’s College Football rankings debuted Clemson at No. 5 behind Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, and Penn State, respectively.
“I would say they don’t give any trophies after nine games last time I checked,” Swinney said. “Thank goodness, right? They don’t give trophies after nine games, it’s all good. We’re just honored to be one of those teams that has a chance. We’ll scrap and claw and try to win games.”
Swinney thought the rankings came on at 7:30 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., so he actually missed seeing them live because he was eating birthday cake with his mom, who turned 75 on Tuesday.
“I found out pretty quick because my phone started blowing up. ‘Gas up the bus, coach!’ People were so mad. I’m like hey, it’s all good, we’re one of those teams. We’ve just got to keep winning and hopefully we’ll scratch and claw. Only got one spot to go to get in there. We got a lot of ball left. Can’t win 12 ’till you win 10. Barbershop mentality, right, one at a time.
“I would say rest easy and just enjoy the journey. They don’t give those trophies out after nine games.”
Swinney was asked if it’s “one of those things where the players know” regarding where Clemson was slotted.
“Oh yeah they know, I don’t have to say anything,” Swinney said. “Again, we’re a team that has a chance. It’s not worth getting worked up about. We need to focus on beating N.C. State. That’s all we need to worry about, because if you go lose to N.C. State, none of it matters. We’re in playoff football. Everybody wants to expand the playoffs… if you expanded the playoffs and there were eight or 10 teams, well then you know, this game ain’t as big a deal this week. Then you start, ‘Well they lost that game, it’s OK, they’re still one of the better teams, just had a bad day.’ No, we don’t have that luxury. This is a huge, monstrous game (on Saturday). And guess what next week, monstrous. And the next week, monstrous. It’s like the state playoffs in high school where you’ve got to win like five games. It’s a best of one every week. That’s our mindset. But I love that. That’s what we’re built for. We’re built for November. We’re built for the postseason. I love it. A lot on the line every week.”
Swinney was asked if going forward, he thinks the rankings will revolve more around what Clemson does on the field than any sort of narrative.
“I don’t know what else we can do on the field,” Swinney said. “Best offensive production we’ve ever had. Ever. Ever. So I don’t know what else we can do. In fact college defense, ain’t had but two other teams in the last 20 years that have held nine opponents to less than 300 yards to start the season. So if it’s about what else is on the field, I don’t know what we can do. We’re playing pretty good.
“We’ve had four games in a row that we’ve played pretty clean and that’s a sign of maturity. Again, if we’re playing our best football in September and October, then that ain’t the recipe. You want to build depth, you want to build confidence, you want to stay healthy, and you certainly want to dominate your opponents, and I think we’ve done that every game but one. You want to position yourself for great things in the postseason, and we’ve done all those things so we’re in a good spot. We just gotta finish. I think we’re in a very similar position as last year, and that team finished. Is this team going to finish, stay focused on the little things, and really have that burning desire to finish the right way?”
Swinney said everyone is back and healthy, including defensive end Xavier Thomas, who has had a great week of practice. He missed the last three games due to a concussion.
Clemson247 intern Steven Werber contributed to this report.