Swinney says Clemson’s put last loss behind

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thought things couldn’t have gone

much better during the Tigers off week.

Swinney played a little touch football with his three sons,

banged-up Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker got to heal his bruised

ribs and the Tigers look like they’ve put their disappointing

Auburn loss behind as they open Atlantic Coast Conference play

against No. 16 Miami.

”I’m more encouraged than discouraged right now,” Swinney said

Tuesday.

Swinney said the team spent most of last week’s practices

correcting the mistakes that turned a potentially season-defining

win into a disastrous, 27-24 overtime loss. The Tigers led 17-0 and

had pushed around their Southeastern Conference opponents much of

the opening half.

But then Auburn and quarterback Cam Newton took control. Newton

threw two third-quarter touchdown passes to move Auburn in front

24-17 as Clemson’s defense gave up several big plays.

Then in overtime, Tigers kicker Chandler Catanzaro had seemingly

tied things when a false start penalty wiped out the field goal.

Catanzaro missed the retry from further back.

”It was tough to deal with,” left tackle Chris Hairston said.

”But it was something where we learned what we needed to do to

improve.”

And that’s what Clemson did.

Hairston said the Tigers had several offensive communication

breakdowns that came from playing in a loud, frenzied environment

that it worked on during the bye week. Timing issues, depth

problems, even making sure players knew how to properly line up –

it was all on the table to be worked on, Hairston said.

”We got a lot of things corrected that we needed to,” he said.

”We got a lot of things done.”

About the only one who didn’t put in that much work was Parker,

Clemson’s sophomore starter. Parker was drilled by a helmet to ribs

and looked like he might have to be replaced. But Parker felt

healthy enough to stay in and led the Tigers on a fourth-quarter

touchdown drive that tied the game.

Once back on campus, however, Swinney made sure Parker wouldn’t

have to do much more than watch backup Tajh Boyd and twirl a

football every once in awhile.

Parker looked confident and strong at practice Monday, offensive

coordinator Billy Napier said, and would be ready to face

Miami.

”I felt good. I thought I threw the ball well, especially

coming back,” Parker said. ”My arm actually feels really

fresh.”

Count on Miami to try and make Parker uncomfortable at Death

Valley on Saturday. The Hurricanes (2-1) have already shown their

resiliency, bouncing back from a 36-24 loss at Ohio State three

weeks ago with last Thursday night’s 31-3 victory at

Pittsburgh.

Center Tyler Horn said playing in those environments will help

the Hurricanes in their first trip to Memorial Stadium since 2005.

The success against Pittsburgh won’t matter as much if Miami can’t

successfully open ACC play at Clemson.

”We know it’s conference season,” Horn said. ”These games are

games we have to win if we want to get to where we want to

go.”

A season ago, Clemson used its bye week to overcome a 2-3 start

and begin a six-game win streak to take the ACC Atlantic Division.

Swinney says there wasn’t as much soul searching this time

following the Auburn defeat.

Still, though, Swinney sees a tight-knit team eager to show how

good it can be.

”I do think we have the personnel and the chemistry on this

team to really be a good football team,” he said. ”What we got to

do know is try and create some momentum.”