Clemson's offense is off to one of its slowest starts in recent memory and with each passing week, the fan base grows louder in their demand for answers.
After the Tigers' 27-21 double-overtime loss to NC State on Saturday, in which Clemson failed to gain 300 yards of offense for the third time this season, much of the criticism was directed squarely at offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.
However, while the doubts start to grow inside of the fan base, head coach Dabo Swinney maintains he is fully confident in his offensive coordinator.
"There's nobody that I believe in more, trust or respect than Tony Elliott," Swinney said. "You know, this guy didn't just forget football. That's for sure."
Elliott assumed the role of co-offensive coordinator after the 2014 season, splitting the duties with Jeff Scott. Following the 2019 season, Scott departed to take over the head coaching job at South Florida, with Elliott assuming the role as the program's lone offensive coordinator.
The Tigers have experienced unprecedented success during Elliott's tenure, having won six straight ACC Championships, making the College Football Playoff in each of those six seasons, and winning two national titles along the way.
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While Swinney is quick to admit his offense is struggling more than it has since the 2014 season, he is adamant that any problems are correctable. That the issues resemble those of the growing pains Brent Venables defense has experienced at times in recent seasons due to youth and that at the moment he isn't concerned with the weekly reactions from those outside of the program.
"Just like when we had some bad moments on defense with a little bit of youth and things like that over the last couple years, could say the same thing about Brent. I mean, Tony Elliot, he's special. He's special. And I'm not really concerned with what other people think to be quite honest with you."
Swinney went on to note that some early-season struggles should not erase all of the success the Tigers have had with Elliott at the helm of the offense.
"To be quite honest with you, you know, I'm here every day," Swinney said. "I know who the people are that are involved, I know what the issues are and, you know, that's disappointing. But you don't judge somebody on it. We've been really, really, good... really good on offense here for a long time. A long time and people are quick to forget that."
The head coach insists that despite the Clemson offense ranking 121st in yards per game right now, his team, as well as his coaching staff, must continue to push forward, focusing on the task at hand, and that is ensuring that this team is playing to the best of its ability.
"This has been a tough start for sure," Swinney said. "Again, we got a lot of pain, but there's purpose in the pain and we'll get better from it. People can splinter or stay together. I say tough times bring out the best in some people and the worst in others, and you kinda find out who's with you. And it's easy to be all in when everything's great. We got to persevere through this but there's nobody, and I mean nobody, that I believe in more than Tony."
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