Clemson continues quest to win division with Saturday showdown vs. Syracuse
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It’s National One-Hit Wonder Day.
Clemson’s next opponent, Syracuse, unexpectedly topped the charts last season with its winning number, “The Tiger Take Down,” in the Carrier Dome.
Clemson has not forgotten that tune as it eyes a little payback Saturday in Death Valley.
“Bad memory, bad taste in my mouth,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. “[It] is certainly a motivating factor, but we’re not out to get revenge. You’ve got to move on. Can’t live like, ‘Oh, man! Can’t wait to get my revenge 364 days from now.’”
So, the Tigers' true motivating force is winning the ACC Atlantic.
“We want to win because it’s a division game," added Swinney. “We want to win the division. We want to be the best version of the 2018 team. They’re [Syracuse] in our way.”
Syracuse presents a much different challenge from the option offenses Clemson has faced the past two weeks.
“The complete polar opposite,” stressed Swinney. “You could not have more different philosophies, styles of play, etcetera.”
The Orange runs a no-huddle, uptempo offense, which Dabo calls lightning fast. Clemson is confident it can handle the pace since they do not huddle up on defense.
“Our calls are easy. We don’t have red left slot... ‘Funky Cold Medina,’” said Swinney smiling. “We don’t have that.”
Swinney started to laugh and added, "I don't know where that came from."
Laughter aside, Syracuse presents a significant challenge. Dabo is calling on the home crowd to help rattle the Orange.
“Our crowd and noise we create is a factor, too, because you’ve still got to communicate,” said Swinney.
He hopes the roars lead to a win over the Orange on Saturday, along with the play of both of his quarterbacks. But there is a change on who runs out onto the field first. Swinney made a tough decision, but in his mind, it was the right one. On Monday, the Tigers sacked Kelly Bryant and named freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence the starter for Saturday’s game.
“This is not a situation where a guy has played bad and you’re like ‘Ugh!’” said Swinney. “That is not the case. Both guys have played really well. We’re just rewarding the performance that we’ve seen.”
Clemson still expects Bryant to play against Syracuse. However, Dabo did excuse Bryant from practice on Monday night. He wanted to give Bryant time to digest the news after the two spoke together about the decision.
“Bad day to be the head coach,” added Swinney. “Most days it’s good. It was emotional. It was tough. He’s played well. There’s not a guy who has ever been here, as long as I’ve been at Clemson, there’s not a guy who is more committed than Kelly Bryant. There’s not a better leader. He’s what you want your son to be like. I love him like a son.”
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