CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney doesn’t believe in revenge.
A year ago, his Clemson team was, in his own words, “embarrassed” by N.C. State in a 34-13 defeat that kick-started a 2-4 season-ending slide.
Saturday, the Wolfpack return to Memorial Stadium for a rematch, but Swinney isn’t interested in hyperbole.
“Last year has nothing to do with this year,” Swinney said. “All that revenge stuff, it doesn’t get you very far. It’s how you play the game and how you prepare each week. We have to execute at a high level and play with great consistency to win consistently.
“We’ll continue to improve, focus on us playing at a high level as we prepare for the next opponent. The focus will continue to be on Clemson and continuing to improve.”
The Tigers slipped a spot – from No.10 to No.11 – despite a 45-10 rout of Maryland; they’re still 9-1 overall, 6-1 in ACC play as the Wolfpack visit for a 3:30 p.m. game which will be televised regionally on ABC and reverse-mirrored nationally on ESPN2.
“We have 13 days left to take care of business, and we have a chance to be top-10 in all the polls,” Swinney said. “That’s when it’s really going to matter. There’s a lot of ball left to be played over the last three weeks, and this football team is doing everything they can to control what they can control. If we take care of business, finish strong, these things will take care of themselves.”
Clemson played what Swinney called “a complete game in all facets” against the Terrapins, holding Maryland to 10 points and 180 yards of total offense – the lowest total by a Clemson foe in over three years.
Over the last month, Clemson is allowing 304 yards and 15 points per game and has risen from 94th to 54th in the FBS total defense rankings. After just seven sacks in the first six games, Clemson has 13 in its last four.
“The thing that jumps out to me is fundamentally how much we’ve improved,” Swinney said. “We’re playing so much more consistent. We had two big mental errors but created three turnovers, tackled well and held them to 1-for-13 on third down.”
Swinney said his team came out of Maryland relatively healthy. Sophomore wideout Sammy Watkins suffered a bruised ankle, but should be fine for N.C. State. Same goes for tailbacks D.J. Howard (twisted ankle) and Rod McDowell (sprained toe).
“I don’t anticipate anyone not being able to practice,” Swinney said.
Following Saturday’s 18-of-26, 261-yard, three-touchdown effort, junior quarterback Tajh Boyd is second nationally in pass efficiency with a 171.99 rating. He is ninth in total offense, with 330.4 yards per game. But Swinney feels he might be underrated.
“I don’t see anyone in the country better than Tajh Boyd,” he said. “You can print that in big, bold letters. The guy is a great football player and doing things that are off the charts. He’s an unselfish guy who goes about his business in a humble way, and doesn’t expect more from anyone than he’s willing to give.
“I don’t think there’s any question he’s playing as good as anyone out there. There are other great players, but I don’t think anyone is playing better than Tajh Boyd.”