The 30-10 win over Wake Forest, which made Clemson bowl eligible for the 12th consecutive season, was the Tigers’ largest margin of victory in Winston-Salem since 1978.
It also marked Clemson’s first road win of the season.
“Better late than never for us to break through and finally get that road win that’s been escaping us all season long,” Swinney said.
Kyle Parker completed 15 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns—a 40-yard hookup with Jaron Brown at the end of the first half and again on a 2-yard score to DeAndre Hopkins in the third quarter.
Parker’s efficiency rating of 222.9 is the best by a Clemson quarterback in an ACC game since 2002.
“They were just dropping a lot of guys,” he said. “We really had to take what was there.”
The Tiger defense didn’t leave much room for the Demon Deacon offense.
For the sixth game in a row, Clemson held its opponent to just one offensive touchdown—and that came against the second-team.
The touchdown was a 1-yard run fourth quarter run by Josh Harris.
No matter the age or experience he had on the field, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele wasn’t pleased with the score.
“I’m not real happy right now that we put our young guys out there and they didn’t rise up and play to our standard,” he said.
Outside of that touchdown, there was plenty to be happy about, though.
Da’Quan Bowers inched closer to the Clemson single-season record with two sacks.
Wake Forest accumulated a total of 205 yards—79 of which were on the touchdown drive.
Down 23-0, Wake Forest didn’t score until Jimmy Newman connected on a 45-yard field goal with 8:38 left in the game.
“I’m just proud of the way the coaches are planning,” Bowers said. “I’m proud of the way the players are playing, taking it upon themselves to execute the game plan.”
Jamie Harper, who rushed 24 times for 142 yards, reached pay dirt with a 63-yard scoring on the ensuing drive, following the Wake Forest field goal.
“He’s just being who we thought he was going to be,” Swinney said. “Just when you thought he couldn’t take one to the house, when you get that big load moving, that was a long run. I got tired watching him.”
Despite his ups and downs this season, Swinney hasn’t gotten tired of watching Chandler Catanzaro kick field goals.
“I’m very proud of him because he’s had a lot of pressure on him and he stepped up today and performed very well,” Swinney said.
Catanzaro appreciated the nod of confidence.
“He’s really been supportive, recently,” he said. “I appreciate that. He said he still believes in me and said let’s put a little streak together at the end of the year.”
The redshirt freshman from Greenville was 3 for 3 (43, 22, 32). Catanzaro has made four-straight field goals now, dating back to the 29-yard make against Florida State last week.
Tajh Boyd, who didn’t play in Tallahassee last week, saw a significant number of snaps in Winston-Salem.
He completed 4 of 8 passes for 37 yards with an interception.
“It was good. This is something that I’ve wanted for a while, now,” Boyd said. “Just to go out there and get some meaningful reps, it was good for me, especially for the future. Everything I do is a confidence builder.”
But he also understands the importance of what’s going on now.
“This season has been really up and down,” Boyd said. “Every game we’ve played in has been tough. We’ve played some very good opponents. A lot of times we didn’t finish.
“We came out here today, put some stuff together and had some fun.”
Up next is rival South Carolina.
The Gamecocks (8-3, 5-3 SEC) travel to Clemson next Saturday before heading to Atlanta, Ga. for the SEC Championship versus Auburn.