Clemson Football

Clemson Going into ACC Championship with Heads Down, and Eyes Forward

December 5, 2019
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When a team is tirelessly faced with questions about strength of schedule, failing eye tests, and undeserving positions in the rankings, there’s no other choice than to fade out the noise and focus on what’s ahead. This is precisely what Coach Swinney has told his guys to do, as he recognizes the lack of respect that Clemson receives from outside of the program.

Safety Tanner Muse said on this issue, “As a team, we're always told to keep your head down, eyes forward, stay humble.” He continued, “There's a lot of great teams out there. We're really getting beat up about our conference. I think our conference has 10 teams that are going bowling, which is the most I think out of any Power 5 or any conference. It's kind of baffling that they want to make this narrative that the ACC is weak or the ACC isn't as strong as these other conferences when we have just as many or more teams going bowling this year.”

No team is entitled to win, and even the best have to come into each game with regard for their opponent. However, what Clemson has been able to do this season has set them up for success in the postseason. Let’s look at some numbers:

  • Top 6 in both defense and offense
  • Defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game
  • Offense has scored 38-plus in last seven games
  • Covered 6 of the previous 7 games, all as 24 point favorites

Clemson is coming into the ACC Championship against No. 23 Virginia as a 28.5-point favorite. It’s a considerable number, and there are definitely things to look out for from this UVA team.

The Cavaliers are fresh off a big win against their in-state rival, Virginia Tech, and are looking to continue the momentum on Saturday. Virginia trailed the Hokies entering the 4th quarter but was able to outscore them 19-7 in crunch time. That speaks volumes about both their offensive and defensive units. Virginia quarterback, Bryce Perkins, passed for 311 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a career-high 164 yards and two scores.

Perkins is absolutely the best singular player that Clemson has faced this season. His ability to move the football through the air and make plays on the ground is paramount to the Cavs success.

“Well, I just want to be in it. I don't care about who we play. If we played the same team every year, I don't care. I just want to make sure we can get there.” 
- Dabo Swinney

On the flip side, the Tigers defense, led by Isaiah Simmons are easily the most challenging squad that Bronco Mendenhall’s offense has had to maneuver against. The chess match between Perkins and Clemson’s Brent Venables should be fun to watch. The Tigers have had issues with versatile quarterbacks at times, but this Clemson defense is very fluid and has the ability to play different styles on the fly, which is why they’ve been so good all season.

This Saturday, Clemson will play their 5th different opponent in 5 years for the ACC Championship. That fact alone keeps things fresh for the Tigers, but once again in early December, they have a preparation hurdle that they have to jump over, having not known their opponent until last Friday.

While learning a different coaching style and scheme isn’t easy, the opponent is never the main concern for Coach Swinney. It’s never about who the Tigers play, but how they play.

“Well, I just want to be in it. I don't care about who we play. If we played the same team every year, I don't care. I just want to make sure we can get there.” 

Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina. 

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Clemson Going into ACC Championship with Heads Down, and Eyes Forward

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