CLEMSON— Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said many times that he does not want his team to peak too early. Instead he would rather have his teams peak at the end of the season.
But is that something that can be controlled or it is something that occurs organically. For Swinney, it is all about coaching.
"It's just coaching. You have so much to teach and grade," Swinney said. "I've never been on a team that plays its best in September. We're a different team, a new team and you start to play games and you have meetings and you have data and tape where you can teach and coach from. I don't think you can be a great team if you don't get better as you go.
"To me, that's a natural progression. We try to just win the game that we are playing and just start teaching. It's not like we want to be bad and we haven't been. Seven out of eight games we have been pretty darn good, to be honest. We've had some spots but we have played really good."
The Tigers have spent the majority of this season having to answer the questions of what is wrong with their team—namely, their offense.
But, as Swinney pointed out, if the Tigers choose to develop their team for the future rather than worrying about the naysayers.
"Last year's team was supposedly the best ever and we're ahead in a lot of areas and we would be ahead in more areas if we left guys in longer but we want to develop our team and build the chemistry on our team," Swinney said.
"We just try to not get too high, not get too low but work each week, coach, teach and correct and challenge and make the right decisions and adjustments. We want to give our guys a chance to win every week. If guys respond to coaching, your team should get better."
But how much of that is coach-speak and how much of it is true. As it turns out, the Tigers may be better this season than they were last year.
"A couple of interesting nuggets," Swinney said. "That was 600 plus yards for the third time this year. That ties a Clemson season record so I am just proud of our guys. And we have had 550 yards now in three straight games. That is the first time we have done that around here since 2013. So for an offense that is supposedly struggled all year I think these guys have done pretty good. Forty-five plus points in three straight games and that is the first time that has happened since 2012. And just how we are running the football. Two hundred and seventy-five plus yards in three straight games. That is the first time that has happened since I have been a head coach. So just a lot of momentum, a lot of depth and guys are getting better."
Even though the Tigers have put up impressive numbers this season, the respect from the national polls has continued to wane—as the Tigers have fallen to No. 3 in the Coaches Poll and No. 4 in the AP Poll from No. 1 at the start of the season.
But with only a week remaining until the first College Football Playoff rankings are released, the Tigers are focused on continuing to play as many players as they can, developing the talents and controlling what they can control.
"We've been really close to having a game like we had Saturday night where we just clicked on all cylinders," Swinney said. "Every week is a season of its own. Nothing carries over good and nothing carries over bad. You have to earn it every week. This team, a young team, 80 freshmen and sophomores, is growing. I'm super proud of our staff and our leadership. We're excited about November coming up. We are in control of our division. Every day is critical."