Sorry Dan, Clemson is Not Playing Pee Wee Football
RALEIGH — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked early this season about his philosophy on running up the score on opponents.
His response following the Tigers' 52-10 over the Charlotte 49ers in September, "We want to beat the opponent, but we never want to embarrass anyone. We could have won by 100 points if we had left Trevor in."
But when the calendar changes to November things change.
Which was exactly the case Saturday night.
With the Tigers up 49-10, after recovering a muffed punt by NC State, Swinney seemingly channeled his inner Steve Spurrier and went the jugular.
Following a timeout from NC State and the ball on the 1-yard line, Swinney called a pass play before allowing true freshman Mikey Dukes to put over the half-century mark.
When asked about why he chose to go for the points rather than taking a knee, Swinney said it was NC State's job to stop the Tigers.
"We are just trying to let them play," Swinney said. "They could have stopped us, too. And they didn't. We subbed everybody. Nobody else to put in there. Just put those guys in there."
However, the Tigers were in a no-win situation. Score and they were running up the their margin of victory. Take a knee on the 1-yard line and it would be perceived as an even bigger slap in the face.
That point was lost on a few of the national media, especially USA Today writer, Dan Wolken, who apparently had amnesia when it came to teams like Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama and LSU running up the score on lesser opponents.
"And as far as running it up on NC State, why the need to justify it? Just say, Dabo was in the mood to be an a-hole [sic] last night and move on," Wolken wrote on Twitter. "It what it is."
The exchange continued with on-air personality Mark Sturgis jumping in to defend Swinney.
So ... you telling me 3rd team players can't play hard? This just continues the "Wussification of America"," Sturgis wrote.
However, Wolken continued his double-standard by responding, "No, I’m saying that when you are up 39 points and there’s 90 seconds left and the other team isn’t calling timeouts, teams go into victory formation."
While Wolken may be correct that some "teams go into victory formation," he neglected to answer why it is OK for Ohio State to kick an onside kick up two scores against a clearly overmatched Maryland team.
For the Tigers, expect them to do the same thing if the opportunity presents itself because they are in the midst of a championship run.
"The mindset is it's championship football," co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. "We're trying to score every time we get the football. We want to continue the momentum. We don't want to give (our) guys any indication that we are backing off. We want to keep our foot on pedal. Because right now it's November and this is when you've got to play our best football."
I guess maybe Dan needs to understand that this is big-boy football, and not everyone gets a trophy and maybe, just maybe it is still the defenses job to stop the offense — even in the fourth quarter.