Everyone knows what's at stake this week. An ACC Championship. When you lose three of four it's hard to fathom that this is even possible, but I guess it is. Clemson hasn't played a great game since the Tar Heels rolled to town on October 22nd. That's more than a month of Clemson playing mediocre football at its best, and bad football at its worst. This team has lost its three games by a combined total of 59 points. None of the them were really close. What is Dabo going to do different this week try and finish this season on a high, to bring home the illustrious ACC title?
Looking at Virginia tech, obviously they are a good football team. They have gotten better as the year has gone on. That staff, those guys have been together a long time. There's a culture in place that's been developed over time. They find ways to win. That's what you want in your program and that's what they've developed over time. There aren't a lot of surprises. It's about execution and fundamentals and technique.
As a Clemson fan, it's hard not to be a little jealous of Virginia Tech. They just win. They aren't flashy. They play hard-nosed football and execute. Frank Beamer is the best coach in the conference. When you win 4 ACC titles in 8 years coaching in this conference you earn that title. Frank Beamer has built that culture of winning in Blacksburg that Clemson fans desperately want and deserve for their own team. And now, that football powerhouse in Virginia travels to Charlotte to take on a Clemson team that isn't beating anyone right now. It's not surprising Dabo's team is more than a touchdown underdog going into this game. These are two teams going in completely opposite directions.
For them offensively, No. 4 is special. He is a great back. He averages over six yards a carry. Their quarterback has been a difference-maker for them down the stretch. Since our game he's thrown 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been effective in the run game and has thrown the ball accurately. He's a really good player.
This is a much different Virginia Tech team than the one the Tigers faced in Blacksburg earlier in the season. They are dominating on every side of the ball. They went on the road and essentially dominated Georgia Tech and just last weekend throttled a good UVA team in Charlottesville. Heading into the ACC title game, the Hokies rank 2nd in the conference in rushing offense, only behind Georgia Tech who runs the ball almost every play. This does not spell success for a Clemson defense that sits at 11th in the conference in rush defense. Clemson's pass defense statistics are inflated because teams know they can beat this team through the ground and don't have to sling the ball around 30+ times a game. How Clemson handles the two-headed monster of Logan Thomas and David Wilson will dictate the outcome of this game.
I know what reality is. I live in reality, not in fantasy land and perception. I'm very proud of our team. We've accomplished more this year than has been accomplished here in 20 years. But I'm not happy with how we finished. And that's my job. We've got to get that corrected and we'll do that.
When is that going to get corrected? We now have just a few days of practice before the team heads up to Charlotte. Is Dabo talking about getting this corrected in the offseason? When I look at the three losses for this season you have to think it's a matter of lack of execution and more importantly lack of preparation. The preparation part falls on the coaches. This coaching staff has let this team get complacent, the one thing we were worried about after the 8-0 start. And now they have to play a Virginia Tech team that is pissed off. A team that would most likely be one win away from the National Championship had they not lost to Clemson, in embarrassing fashion, back in October. I'm sure Frank Beamer will play that card all week. He will have his team prepared, he always does. Not sure we'll be able say the same for Dabo and his squad.
Saturday is a big big game. This team has a chance to heal the scars that have been created over the last month. To be successful this team is going to have to 1) Execute on both sides of the ball 2) Not turn the ball over 3) Get Sammy much more involved in the playmaking and 4) Play with a fire that we haven't seen in over a month. Do these things and Clemson may have a chance to bring home its first ACC Championship in two decades. Don't and this season will be chalked up as one of the more epic collapses this Clemson fanbase has ever experienced.
Dabo Swinney - ACC Championship weekly press conference (via Tigernetdotcom)