CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney knew Tajh Boyd called a players-only meeting Monday to clear the air following Saturday’s 49-37 loss at No.4 Florida State. In fact, he approved of it.
“Tajh isn’t just the quarterback, he’s the leader,” Swinney said. “That’s what you want to see.”
Boyd acted alone in calling the meeting, which he said was meant to show his teammates that the season wasn’t over despite the disappointing defeat. That’s a reflection of how mindsets have changed under Swinney’s watch.
“I just felt like there’s no need for a lack of confidence in any way, shape or form for this team,” he said. “In the past, a loss wouldn’t have affected a team so badly. I feel the culture’s changed to the point where that one loss will really hurt you, really hit you. You know what type of team this is, what type of player you’ve got surrounding you. And how passionate everyone is about this game.
“I feel like we have an opportunity to do something special this season. You don’t want one loss to affect you to the point that it ruins everything for you. There’s nothing to hold your heads about.”
Boyd said there’s no division among the team and that “this loss goes on us collectively as a unit.”
“We had opportunities to finish that game,” he said. “Granted Florida State did some great things, but we didn’t help ourselves out, either. I don’t think we sealed the game on offense, defense or special teams. There were opportunities in every part to finish that game and we didn’t do it.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney seemed pleased with how his team has responded to its first loss of the season, which led to a seven-spot drop in the Associated Press top 25 – from No.10 to No.17 – entering Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game at Boston College.
“I was anxious to see how guys would respond,” he said. “There are a lot of guys who were in that (leadership) role for the first time. I liked the look in their eye. They weren’t happy, they were disappointed. We watched tape and came back (Monday), said here’s what happened, make sure they understand so they can improve and get better. We had a good team on the road down 14 and we didn’t finish.”
During a 30-minute weekly press conference Tuesday, Swinney repeatedly made the point that his team has potential but has a lot of work left to realize it.
“We’re capable of being a good football team,” he said. “It was one game and a tough loss and we have a long way to go. But we have so much opportunity to have a very good season in September. Hopefully by the time this thing is all said and done in November, we’ll see a lot of growth from this team. We’re going to have to have it. We’re not a very good team right now, but we have a chance to improve in a lot of areas, and we need to.”
Missing Martin: Clemson’s depth chart showed a slight change in the secondary, with senior Xavier Brewer now listed as a starting cornerback alongside sophomore Bashaud Breeland, with Breeland listed as an either/or option with junior Darius Robinson at the other corner spot.
However, Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret said the depth chart is not necessarily a reflection of coaches’ opinions, but the dominant lineup used in the previous week’s game.
Swinney said he expects to see a combination of Brewer and fellow seniors Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks at safety.
“Meeks has been our most consistent player,” he said. “I’m pleased with how he performed. All three had good moments and bad moments too, and Brewer will continue to work (both safety and corner).”
The Tigers have little depth at cornerback, in part due to a groin injury which forced junior Martin Jenkins to redshirt. Redshirt freshman Cortez Davis and sophomore Garry Peters have a combined 30 snaps this season, none at Florida State.
“Martin’s injury hurt us,” Swinney said. “We’re really missing Martin. I’ve said that many times, but he was a key guy for us who made a lot of plays. He’s very powerful very fast and can really challenge guys. We don’t have a lot of trustworthy depth there right now. We’re going to get there but we’re pretty thin.”