Dabo channeling Danny? In times of trouble 'go back to basics'

'We're going to major in the minors this week...We're going to go back and treat it like they don't know anything'

Clemson's Dabo Swinney during the fourth quarter of the Florida State game at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Dabo Swinney during the fourth quarter of the Florida State game at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Borrowing a page from the playbook of Danny Ford, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is sending his Tigers back to the basics in the aftermath of their big-game flop against Florida State.

While the 'basics' employed by Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris might differ somewhat from those of Clemson's legendary coach, the concept of simplification is the same.

"I've told our guys that we're going to major in the minors this week - stance, starts, footwork, ball-handling," said Swinney at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "We're going to go back and treat it like they don't know anything.

"We have a lot of guys know a lot of football, offensively. But it's the little things that lead to the big things. Sometimes you overlook the little things."

Swinney said the Tigers need to improve their red-zone efficiency and "be the kind of third-down team that I know we are."

A heavy emphasis will be placed on ball security. The Tigers turned the ball over four times against Florida State, after losing it just four times in their first six games.

"None of it matters if you don't take care of the football," Swinney said. "We've had a bad little run here the last few games. We can't give anybody the ball four times and expect to win, and certainly not against a team like Florida State."

Morris said on Monday that no one on the offense except left tackle Brandon Thomas is playing well, and that the Tigers are struggling to execute their most basic attack.

Swinney said Tuesday that Morris might have been "a little over the top" in his comments.

"What's the saying? 'You don't throw the baby out with the wash,'" Swinney said. "We're doing some good things, and we have some guys who are playing good football. But from Chad's point of view, he's a perfectionist and a competitor, and we haven't had the consistency he wants to see.

"It's been more than one thing, and the little things are where we're messing up."

Swinney said that experience, consistency and football intelligence should be "a competitive advantage" for Clemson's offense.

"We have to go back and retool those guys," he said. "We've been doing a lot of calculus, so let's go back and do some arithmetic. This is a hurt football team right now. But we're going to be OK because they care."

Swinney said that while this week's focus "is all about Clemson," upcoming opponent Maryland poses some problems, in part because of lineup uncertainty.

The Terps, who won their first five games before losing their last two by a combined score of 97-10, lost half their defensive secondary before the first game and then lost their top two receivers - Stefon Diggs and Deon Long - last week.

Quarterback C.J. Brown, who had a field day against the Tigers two years ago, is still working back into form after suffering a concussion, and is listed as the co-starter with Greer, S.C. native Caleb Rowe. Both quarterbacks suffered ACL injuries last season.

“They're 5-2, are have a good season, and they've got it headed in the right direction," Swinney said. "They're coming off a tough loss in their last game, and, like us, they didn't play well. But they're undefeated at home, and we know how tough of a place that is to win. A couple of years ago we needed a great comeback to beat them.

"Just like I tell our guys every week, when we come to town we're going to get a great crowd and a great effort. We have to match that.”

Swinney said the Tigers are "eager to go play again."

"Any time you lose, you'd like to go out and play again tomorrow," Swinney said. "We have to wait a week to go play and show that we're better than we played the other night."

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Comments » 7

Bleedsorange writes:

Back to basics? Every pewee to high school team does basics drills at the beginning of practice and college teams have to lose to come back to that? Really? So the team is so good that could be skipped in previous practices. Glad that worked, oh wait...........

CUNo1Fan writes:

Well I hope channeling Danny and returning to the basics includes a commitment to the recruitment of top level linemen. Any team that is able to whip us on the LOS and as a result slow the run game and pressure Boyd ends up whipping our tail. All the skill players in the world, the best QB in the world, etc don't mean crap if you can't at a minimum hold your own on the LOS to give those great skill players time to do their job. Same for the D just reverse what holding your own or winning the LOS does.

That is the main basic that Clemson needs to get back to and that starts with the commitment of the Coaches.

For the team, yep back to basics too but their basics need to focus on tackling drills with proper tackling technique, live practice with a lot of hitting to toughen them up (some bull in the ring drills might help too), and lots of ball security drills - break out the old tire frames and make the backs run through them with a LB waiting at the end for them.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

"We're going back to treat them like they don't know anything". What a choice of words to use after watching them play like they never have known anything about football in their lives.

kellytown writes:

Dabo I believe that Morris will leave at the end of this season. We can recruit all the big recievers you want but if you don't recruit a offensive line then what is going to happen do i need to say more.Dabo you said we could beat Fla. State 5 out of 10 times we played being a realist I say no way. We haven't beat the coots in 4 years. Its time to shi$ or get off the pot wake up . what you should have said is we got beat by a much better team!!!and got out coached. this smoke a mirrors don't work.Take the loss and go on. Don't try and say something like we could beat fla.st.50% of the time I just want to beat them when and where we play them I would have liked to beat them this past saturday.. This was the game of the year for the ACC prime time and we layed a egg. We always seem to have an excuse how about we need to recruit and play football. maybe we need to replace / find a offense line coach.

Bigboots writes:

Is he saying Adam Humphries isnt playing well?
He is one of the very few who looks like he's giving 100%

33dtb writes:

in response to CUNo1Fan:

Well I hope channeling Danny and returning to the basics includes a commitment to the recruitment of top level linemen. Any team that is able to whip us on the LOS and as a result slow the run game and pressure Boyd ends up whipping our tail. All the skill players in the world, the best QB in the world, etc don't mean crap if you can't at a minimum hold your own on the LOS to give those great skill players time to do their job. Same for the D just reverse what holding your own or winning the LOS does.

That is the main basic that Clemson needs to get back to and that starts with the commitment of the Coaches.

For the team, yep back to basics too but their basics need to focus on tackling drills with proper tackling technique, live practice with a lot of hitting to toughen them up (some bull in the ring drills might help too), and lots of ball security drills - break out the old tire frames and make the backs run through them with a LB waiting at the end for them.

Coach Ford never had as little O-Line as Dabo and the "late/great" TB....... That's basically what got TB fired.

Ask Saban if he thinks he's too smart to need a top-notch O-Line. ask Saban what he thought of TB's O-Line.

Brucepg2000 writes:

Excuses, excuses, they are big enough.. fall out of love with the pass and fall in love with the run. Fear is what you saw on the offensive side of the ball. Waaaaay too cute, then we got slapped in the mouth and didn't know what to do. Establish a rhythm by running it then play action, wheel routes etc... Morris ain't stupid but he sure as heck looked shell shocked and the play calling has demonstrated that fact.

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