SU coach apologizes for midgame tirade

Clemson's Sammy Watkins runs in a 91-yard touchdown during the third quarter at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Sammy Watkins runs in a 91-yard touchdown during the third quarter at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse had some flickering hopes in the third quarter – thanks to a sluggish second-half Tiger offense and an Orange touchdown – they had drawn within three possessions for the first time since mid-second quarter.

Clemson had failed on five-straight third downs and the Carrier Dome was starting to wake up – that is, until Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins shut the door.

Watkins had actually sat much of the game with a hip injury, but the Tigers needed a spark, and play two of the Tigers’ fourth drive of the half, Boyd just threw the ball up.

“Tajh threw a wonderful ball. I had to run fast to get it. He really stressed me there,” Watkins said with a smile.

91 yards and a slew of Orange defenders left in the dust later, it was the second-longest play from scrimmage in Clemson history, giving the Tigers a game-clinching 42-14 advantage with under a minute left in the third quarter.

“We were trying to hold (Watkins) as much we could,” Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We felt like we had control of the game in the second quarter. They come out and get a couple stops and a score. We got to reload again.

“He was ready to go. That was a heck of a throw and he went and got it. That’s what great players do – they perform.”

Sammy returns with big play

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On the play, Boyd broke his own Clemson single-game passing record (455), while tying his passing touchdown mark (5). Watkins posted his 10th career 100-yard receiving game – and his first back-to-back since mid-2011 (BC and Maryland).

PRESSURE V. PRESSURE

Both Clemson and Syracuse came in ranked in the top-25 nationally in sacks and tackles for loss defensively. They lived up to the reputation in the Carrier Dome Saturday.

Combined, they posted eight sacks and 21 tackles for loss.

The Tigers held the edge in TFLs, 13 to 9, while both teams hit the four sack mark.

Swinney credited an improved secondary for the Tigers’ high-pressure performance.

“They had only given up four sacks all year. Their style of play, the ball comes out quick,” he said. “The sacks that came today were a reflection of our coverage. They have a quick game and a lot of throws in rhythm, but we made them hold the ball a little bit because of our coverage.

“I can’t say enough about the job our secondary did tonight.”

With two sacks by himself, junior end Vic Beasley equaled his 2012 sack total of eight, while also compiling two more tackles for loss (10 total this season, which leads the team).

“He impacts the game with his speed and ability to chase people down,” Swinney said. “He made some nice tackles for us. He’s a very smart football player and plays hard.”

CHOICE WORDS

With a comfortable 35-7 lead and five yards to the goalline, Swinney opted to go for six points on fourth down, with time ticking on the end of the first half.

His quarterback never really had a chance on the play, taking a five-yard sack.

Directly afterward, ESPN cameras caught an obviously irate Syracuse coach Scott Shafer about the fourth down try, who pointed across the field and yelled a pair of expletives with “Dabo” unmistakably mouthed in the middle of it.

Time passed and the postgame handshake was cordial, which led to some surprise on Swinney’s part upon hearing of the midgame event.

“Really? Are we supposed to take a knee?” Swinney asked with an incredulous look on his face. “(At that point), we’ve got a lot of football left, anything can happen…There’s nothing less important than the score at halftime. The game is never over until the last second ticks so I’m not taking knees in the second quarter.”

Shafer was apologetic postgame.

"Anybody that knows me knows I'm extremely emotional — sometimes over the top,” Shafer told the Syracuse media. “I said a few things out there today that I feel bad about. I really do…I'm an adult now and I need to constrain myself a little bit better.

PICK PARTY

Clemson’s senior quarterback Boyd and Syracuse’s sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt came into Saturday’s matchup without an interception in previous 207 pass attempts combined.

In 51 attempts before the orange-clad assembled in the Carrier Dome, they totaled five.

A throw that sailed on Boyd in the second quarter stopped his school-record pick-less streak at 187, while his next streak lasted only 12 passes mid-third quarter.

The nation’s completion percentage leader coming in (93.5) – one junior Clemson backup quarterback Cole Stoudt – fired as many incompletions as he had all season (2) on a fourth quarter drive. Reserve Orange quarterback Drew Allen then upped the total to six combined picks on the day.

INJURY UPDATE

Two Tigers were hurt on punt coverage duties, in starting safety Travis Blanks (PCL) and reserve linebacker Ben Boulware (hyperextended knee). Swinney said both were not serious postgame.

Rounding out the group, left guard Kalon Davis sustained a minor groin injury and Boyd played through a bruised thumb.

TIGERS HOLD ‘CUSE START

In home games this season, Syracuse had scored 12-of-16 first half possessions, posting nearly 40 points per game, but that run of luck met an improved Tiger “D.”

Clemson held them to one score in 10 possessions in the first and second quarters, and outside of that one score (a 66-yard Jerome Smith touchdown run), they averaged 2.4 yards per play.

The Tiger offense did their job on the other side, posting nine yards per play, 439 yards and 35 points.

“When you go out on the road in an environment like this, you got to take the crowd out early,” said Boyd, of a crowd that was just short of a sellout (48,961). “External factors shouldn’t affect you on the field, but in either case, it can get you at some point.”

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Comments » 11

Bigboots writes:

The comment made by the Syracuse coach to the media was not an apology. Who cares if he felt bad? He may feel bad that he's too stupid to realize the number of cameras ABC/espn uses at football games.
Some of the Clemson players said they had never heard so much pre-game talk as what they heard from syracuse. Now we know it starts at the top with their no-class, run-that -mouth coach.
For those who didnt catch it, he yelled:
F you Dabo, you MF'er.
Enjoy the beatdown Syracuse. You earned it.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to Bigboots:

The comment made by the Syracuse coach to the media was not an apology. Who cares if he felt bad? He may feel bad that he's too stupid to realize the number of cameras ABC/espn uses at football games.
Some of the Clemson players said they had never heard so much pre-game talk as what they heard from syracuse. Now we know it starts at the top with their no-class, run-that -mouth coach.
For those who didnt catch it, he yelled:
F you Dabo, you MF'er.
Enjoy the beatdown Syracuse. You earned it.

I think he genuinely felt bad about it. He had cooled down by postgame and the handshake with Dabo went smoothly. The AP pic on it's kinda funny because shows just how awkward it was for him - http://www.postandcourier.com/storyim... There's obviously no excuse for what he did, but after talking with him at the ACC Kickoff, I can vouch for him being an 11 on the intensity scale. He's a defensive coach and his team was getting run in that first half - let his emotions get the best of him.

waran writes:

As I said in another post, I have lost respect for SU, Shafer and their Team because of what happened before and during the game. There is no reason for a Coach to use profanity during a game at the opposing coach. SU needs to reprimand him for that and get the Team to shut up.

But as Brandon said, he salvaged himself a little by apologizing.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

I am so mad that I missed his rant. Don't think I have ever heard of a coach getting caught on camera cussing at the coach across the field. The Syracuse Administration may want to take a look at this and make him sit in the corner with a dunce hat on for a bit. Most grown people got sense enough not to get caught on camera cussing somebody for not taking a knee in the first half. How stupid does he think we are anyway. Oh, yea, I know how stupid he thinks we are Stupid enough to beat that bad high school like team by 5 touchdowns. Pretty stupid!

BrandonRink writes:

in response to rsb8931#286014:

I am so mad that I missed his rant. Don't think I have ever heard of a coach getting caught on camera cussing at the coach across the field. The Syracuse Administration may want to take a look at this and make him sit in the corner with a dunce hat on for a bit. Most grown people got sense enough not to get caught on camera cussing somebody for not taking a knee in the first half. How stupid does he think we are anyway. Oh, yea, I know how stupid he thinks we are Stupid enough to beat that bad high school like team by 5 touchdowns. Pretty stupid!

For your viewing pleasure - https://vine.co/v/hX77UTwHhOM

SoCalTiger writes:

He and his team got demoralized at home with a full house on national television in their first ACC game. I am surprised he didn't cuss from beginning to end. Welcome to your new conference home.

kellytown writes:

Typical YANKEE Language!!! Your team let their crocodile mouths overload their mocking bird A$$...This should teach your Q back and team and maybe you!!! The trainers should have given them some pepto bismol to keep them from running off at the mouth. It could have been a whole lot worse.

seldomusedreserve#284867 writes:

He's a new head coach and I think he's got a lot to learn about handling emotions of the game and his players handling questions from the media. I was shocked by the talk from their team during the week.

Typically, when you try to "spring an upset" you don't talk about it to the media all week long because often you look bad afterward.

I think anyone can make a mistake. It's what happens moving forward that will determine how I feel about SU in the long run, not the rant of a guy who is 5 games into his head coaching career.

33dtb writes:

Woody Hayes ??????

What is it about Clemson ??

waran writes:

in response to 33dtb:

Woody Hayes ??????

What is it about Clemson ??

And Woody Hayes was fired the next day, as he should have been. He never coached again.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

in response to SoCalTiger:

He and his team got demoralized at home with a full house on national television in their first ACC game. I am surprised he didn't cuss from beginning to end. Welcome to your new conference home.

You made the best point of them all. Had I been the Syracuse coach, I would have been cussing from the 3rd play of the game. He probably was, but he hid it a little better. I would feel sorry for him had it not been for the stupid Syracuse players yapping like they did. They actually thought, I suppose, they had a chance to beat us. Syracuse must be a real easy place to get in, sort of like South Carolina in Columbia because it is clear their student athletes are not very smart.

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