This Saturday, he’ll lead the Tigers into one of the biggest games in ACC history when Florida State comes to town for showdown of Top 5 teams.
“Five years ago today, I was on the practice field. I had just been named interim head coach on October 13, ’08. We had a 6 o’clock practice that Monday night,” Swinney said. “It’s just awesome to be where we are. I’m humbled by what God’s done in my life and the opportunity I’ve had, to be here at Clemson.
“It’s really neat, five years later, to be where we are and to have an opportunity to be relevant again.”
Swinney wants games like this one to “be the norm at Clemson.”
“This is why you come here,” he said. “This is why you coach. You want to be in games like this. This ain’t going to be our last game. This won’t be our first one. This won’t be our last one, same thing with Florida State. They’ve been in a lot of big games and they’ll be in many more big ones.”
Both teams have big-time quarterbacks who are vying for a December invite to New York City. Swinney’s not just a fan of his guy, Tajh Boyd. He’s known about fellow Alabama native Jameis Winston for a while, too.
“I know they list him as a redshirt freshman, but he doesn’t look like any freshman I’ve seen. He’s a special player,” Swinney said.
Swinney is from Pelham. Winston hails from Hueytown. The two towns are “25 miles” apart.
“I’ve known who he is since he was, probably, ninth grade or so. He’s been a great player his whole life,” Swinney said. “He’s not playing like a freshman. He’s playing like a savvy veteran.
“Heck, he’s playing like a Heisman guy.”
Clemson scored just 24 points against Boston College, despite racing up 496 yards of total offense. The Tigers committed four offensive penalties, lost two fumbles, missed a field goal, botched another and failed to convert on 13 of 17 third-downs.
Swinney referred to the play by the offense as “a comedy of errors.”
“We kind of got in our own way there for a little while, very uncharacteristic in some of the mistakes we made,” he said.
The second quarter trick play where Sammy Watkins overthrew Adam Humphries in the end zone summed up Swinney’s thoughts on the offense’s performance.
“That was the epitome of our day, offensively, especially the first half. That was epitome of it,” Swinney said.
Ever the optimist, Swinney did point out the good things.
“We made some big plays. It’s the first game we have not given up any sacks. And we improved our rushing, 4.4 yards per carry. Was very pleased with that,” he said. “Certainly wasn’t all bad.”
There wasn’t much the defense didn’t do well.
“Very physical, the fewest mental errors we’ve had all year, held a running football [team] to 2.4 per rush,” Swinney said. “Another great job on third-down. We’re very consistent there. Created the turnovers, obviously got the one score. Five sacks, 12 tackles for loss, six three-and-outs.
“B.C. had a good plan. They had a lot of tough play-actions and alignments, things like that that cause some stress. Our guys did an excellent job. The biggest issue, we still had some missed tackles and gave up the big play touchdowns.”