Dabo Swinney debunks ‘Clemsoning’ meme following win over Georgia Tech
CLEMSON, S.C. — Following their signature win over Notre Dame, the sixth-ranked Clemson Tigers did not show a hint of a letdown on Saturday as they dismantled the visiting Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 43-24.
Many looked at the game as a chance for the Tigers to perform the act of "Clemsoning," which has been linked to the team for underperforming and coming up short on the big stage for years.
Dabo Swinney takes issue with the meme — and he should.
"I think it’s ridiculous that you even say the word," Swinney said when a reporter mentioned ‘Clemsoning’ in a question asking how the team felt about the term. "I’m sick of it. We ain’t lost to anybody unranked since 2011, but I have to come to a press conference in 2015 and get asked that. I can tell you how they feel about it — they don’t like it.
" … It’s a lack of respect. It’s not doing your homework and paying attention to what reality is."
The Tigers have won 33 consecutive games against unranked opponents dating back to 2011, including noteworthy wins against Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ohio State, Georgia, LSU and Auburn.
Clemson is off to another undefeated start this season. As the top-ranked team in a Power Five conference, Clemson should be viewed as a legitimate College Football Playoff contender with its marquee matchup against Florida State looming in November.
"This football team right here has earned the respect," Swinney said. "Ain’t nobody given us anything … not one ounce of anything. They’ve earned everything they’ve got, and when I have to turn on the TV and people bring up that word and they try to casually throw the word out there like you do, but it’s still the word — it shouldn’t even be in the conversation. People need to get some more adjectives. This football team has showed up."
The Tigers certainly showed up on Saturday against Georgia Tech, which beat Clemson 28-6 in Atlanta last season. Just over 16 minutes into the game, Clemson had already opened up a 26-3 lead with stifling defense and a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Wayne Gallman.
Gallman finished the game with 120 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 13 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run on the third play of the game. He’s now racked up over 100 yards rushing in three consecutive games.
"He’s an every-down player," Swinney said of Gallman. "He’s just relentless. He wants the ball, and he wants every yard he can get. He’s got a great suddenness to him. His ability to stick a foot in the ground and get north-south and break tackles. He’s got good vision. He’s not even close to what he’s gonna be, this kid is just gonna keep getting better. He’s a great person, too. It’s fun when you’re best players are your guys that work the hardest. He’s the epitome of that."
Though Watson hasn’t accumulated the Heisman-type numbers that some expected this season, he continued to lead the offense on Saturday with 265 yards passing and two touchdowns. He connected with wide receiver Jordan Leggett on two perfectly thrown touchdowns in the second quarter to extend Clemson’s lead.
The sophomore quarterback has now thrown for at least two touchdowns in every game this season.
Through six games, Clemson has shown no signs of any letdown that would suggest the team will roll over in the midst of a serious run for the four-team playoff. They’ll host Boston College, one of the best defenses in the nation, next week at home.
Swinney knows the Eagles could knock off his Tigers, but it’s not because of a term that’s unfairly stamped on the Clemson program despite years that encourage otherwise.
"We can lose to Boston College. That’s the biggest game of the year. And they’re dang capable of beating us," said Swinney, who owns a 65-26 record as a head coach. "And if they beat us, it ain’t because we had some bad — whatever. It’s because they beat us. That’s football. It’s like everybody is sitting around waiting on us to lose a game so they can say, ‘Oh, well there you go again.’ No, that’s bull crap."
"We’re not a national championship team yet, but we don’t have to be. We gotta find a way to be better than Boston College, and if we can do that, then we get one step closer to achieve (a division title), and if we achieve that, then we’ve got a chance to play for our conference title. Whatever happens after that happens."
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- Wayne Gallman