Swinney's Post Game Recap: Georgia Tech
Top-ranked Clemson visited Bobby Dodd Stadium, a place that hasn't always been too kind to Dabo Swinney's Tigers, and handed Georgia Tech a humbling 73-7 defeat on Saturday.
In a day that saw the Tigers race out to a commanding 52-7 halftime advantage, there were plenty of positives and learning moments for the No. 1 team in the country.
"Tremendous performance, I"m really proud of our guys," Swinney said to open his post-game press conference. "We wanted to make history. It's not often you get the chance to do something that has never been done, especially at a place that's had a lot of success in playing 100-something years of football."
The dominant win over the Yellow Jackets gave the Tigers three straight wins in Atlanta--a place where wins have been hard to come by in the past.
"This goes to show you how this rivalry has been. I've been in that locker room many times with some hurt feelings. So to win down here three in a row, that's a great accomplishment and something we're really proud of," the Clemson head coach said.
While displeased with the poor technique that led to Georgia Tech's lone touchdown of the day, Swinney said he was satisfied with the overall effort including the improvement from the reserves. For Clemson, that was the main key in the second half.
The Tigers were challenged to continue playing to the standard down the stretch despite being ahead by several touchdowns. Swinney wanted to see improvement among the second and third-team players and he saw just that on Saturday.
"My challenge to them (at halftime) was 'listen, this is where our team needs to grow up'. Because we've been in a couple of situations where we felt like the game was in hand at halftime and we played all our guys, and we didn't play well. We didn't play well at Wake Forest, we didn't play well when we subbed some guys against the Citadel."
The expectation is for the team to continue to execute and the standard does no change based on who is in the game.
"That was my challenge. These guys are at the same practice and the same meetings and want to play. Prove that we can depend on you and let's get better. You saw that today, those guys have improved since the Wake Forest game and the game is starting to slow down for some of them."
On Nyles Pinckney Touchdown:
Throughout the last few seasons, Clemson has been known to sneak in a few of the big boys from the defensive line for a jumbo package in goal-line and short-yardage situations. That formation returned on Saturday with Bryan Bresee as Nyles Pickney scored on a 1-yard score plow. The score pushed Clemson's lead out to 30-7 midway through the second quarter. After the touchdown, Pickney gave the crowd a little dance which didn't exactly impress Swinney.
"I didn't think much about it. I was happy for him but told him to act like he's been there before. Which he reminded me he's not been there before, so we'll work on that moving forward.
On Taisun Phommachanh Injury:
With backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei available but held back due to a sore shoulder suffered against Miami last week, Taisun Phommachanh, Hunter Helms, and punter Will Spiers each joined the action for the Tigers on Saturday under center. Phommachanh struggled again to find a rhythm offensively and left the game early due to a hand injury.
"He's got a little break in his left hand. I think if he was in any other position would be able to play but I don't know as a quarterback what type of casting he would have to have on," Swinney said when asked if they expect Phommachanh to miss time. "You don't do a whole lot with the left hand but have the ability to grip and position the ball. So we'll see once they get in there and see exactly the extent of it.
Swinney on Trevor Lawrence's career day:
"He's enjoying himself. He's focused on the moment. I've never been around a guy that is more dialed into today," Swinney said. "Literally, today. When I see him, on Monday, he'll be locked in on Monday. He loves to play, he loves to prepare, loves to challenge. And he's so focused on his execution and his details. I'm just really proud of him like I've said many times, It's a true joy to work with him every single day."
On Improved Protection on Special Teams:
"Yeah, I wasn't worried about B.T. (Potter), I wasn't even paying attention to B.T. I was focused on protection. Last week had nothing to do with B.T., it was 1000% on our technique and fundamentals. We spent all week getting back to the basics on that, made a couple of personnel moves as well and those guys did a nice job for us.
On freshman receiver E.J. Williams:
"I've told E.J. Williams, I felt like we got the cake out of the oven. I asked him what his favorite icing is because that's all we're doing with him is putting the icing on," Swinney said. Clemson fans should expect to see more of Williams early in the game moving forward and they Swinney remains high on the talented wideout that played at the same high school as Justyn Ross.
"He's a very talented freshman and he's got a bright future so he's a shot in the arm for us,"
Swinney on Ajou Ajou's first career touchdown:
"Ajou Ajou is still baking a little bit but I've turned the heat down. But you saw what he can do, he just has so much to learn. He is going to be a special player. That was just a simple little screen and he turned into a spectacular play. He looked like a granddaddy long lead running down the field."