Hard-fought win over Terps has Dabo Swinney feeling good about his Tigers

Boyd's injury not serious; Watkins, McDowell, Beasley, Shuey, Catanzaro named players of the game

Clemson's Dabo Swinney during the second quarter at Maryland.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Dabo Swinney during the second quarter at Maryland.

Clemson had trouble in the red-zone all game long against Maryland on Saturday, but in the end, a prolific offensive performance and the reliable toe of Chandler Cantazaro meant there was no price to pay.

Clemson notched its seventh victory of the season, 40-27 over the Terps at College Park, and as a result climbed two spots, to eighth, in both the USA Today Coaches' Poll and Harris Interactive Poll on Sunday.

Dabo Swinney, who tells his team that the fun in the winning, said there was plenty of fun to be had Saturday night by the Tigers, despite mistakes that prevented them from taking control of the game early.

Clemson led just 19-13 going into the fourth quarter, thanks to four chip-shot field goals by Catanzaro, before outscoring the Terps 21-7 to take command of the game.

"First of all, I want to say that I'm really proud of our team for going on the road and winning, and for the way they handled the past week," Swinney said during his Sunday evening teleconference. "They responded. We had a chance to take control of the game early, and that was disappointing. But I was really pleased with the way we competed and just kept playing."

Swinney said the defense repeatedly rose to the occasion after turnovers gave the Terps short-field opportunities, and, over the course of the game, the offense did its part.

"We had nine three-and-outs and we were really good in the red-zone defensively," Swinney said. "We were able to overcome our turnovers, which are usually a recipe for disaster, and force field goals.

"The other thing I was really pleased with was the way we ran the football. Hot Rod (McDowell) averaged 5.3 yards a carry and Zac (Brooks) 5.1. We had 551 yards on 98 plays. That's a good day at the office.

"We know we left a lot out there, but we did a lot of good things. Our offensive line played well, and I thought that collectively, Sammy Watkins, Adam Humphries and Martavis Bryant had their best game, both with and without the ball.

"We also had a couple of nice field position flips (on punts) by Bradley Pinion."

Clemson's red-zone inefficiency resulted from a string of unrelated problems.

"The first time we got down there, a player - not an offensive lineman - missed an assignment, and then we called a play and there was nothing there," Swinney said. "The next time, when we had first-and-goal at the two, we had a tackle for loss when we didn't pick up movement, and then on second down, our tight end missed a block. Third down was just a bad call against their defense.

"The third time, we had a touchdown to Sam Cooper, and their guy just got his hand on the ball. It was frustrating because we were moving the ball, with 10, 12, 13-play drives."

Despite the mistakes, Swinney said he was "very encouraged" when he watched film of the game on Sunday.

"Our defense played well, except for giving up the big play early and then at the end, when we sort of let our guard down," he said.

Asked about safety Travis Blanks' bad angle on Maryland's first-half touchdown strike, Swinney said, "Travis made a mistake, but it wasn't just Travis. Stephone (Anthony) was the other one. Both guys got caught staring at the quarterback instead of having their eyes where they should have been."

Swinney said that the Tigers' player of the game awards went to Watkins and McDowell on offense, Vic Beasley and Spencer Shuey on defense, and Catanzaro on special teams.

He said that while the training room will be busy this week treating various bumps and bruises, the Tigers sustained no injuries that should keep anyone out of the upcoming game against Virginia, including quarterback Tajh Boyd, who limped off the field at one point with a sore knee.

"Tajh bounced back and competing his tail off," Swinney said. "He's a little sore, but he'll be ready."

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Comments » 7

smasbrown#290398 writes:

FSU beat this team 65-0. We win a close one. He's proud! WOW! How will we ever get better if the HC is proud of this performance. Tajh can't consistently hit any throw other than the quik screen and the OC and Tajh know it. NO CONFIDENCE! The O-line is terrible. The defense has potential but only when they bring pressure. Secondary is not good enough to stay with receivers with any talent. Cat Man was the saving grace of the game. Tajh has had 3 bad games in a row. Hopefully you try Stoudt and Kelly before USC game. But its probably too late to worry about that this year. That'll be another record; 5 in a row. Never happened before, just like never having 50 hung on you in Memorial Stadium. But he is PROUD!!!!

waran writes:

I have no confidence that Dabo and his staff can lead Clemson to a championship.

33dtb writes:

We don't need no no steenkin' O-Line talent evaluation............. just take the Daniel or BHP High School O-Line to the next game.

Seriously, just recruit the the entire O-Line of either school - - feed them up over the summer and START them next fall....Save a whole lot of time and trouble.

DAYUM .... go to Maryland and BARELY beat a beat-up team...... I won't be able to watch the USC game.

CUNo1Fan writes:

I'll feel better about the Tigers and the coaching staff when I see a commitment to recruiting top level O and D line players to go with the skill players the Tigers are landing.

kellytown writes:

Like I said last week Maryland had half their starters for this game. We really make games harder than they should be.We should have had the Maryland over in the first Quarter if we were far superior than they were.I have to give Maryland a lot of credit and their coaching staff.Dabo if you were happy with the way your team played saturday we are in big time trouble.The game was just ugly thats all I have to say.We are SOFT on offense our line could not move anyone off the line of scrimmage.I don;t know whats going on with this coaching staff they need to pay attention to whats going on during the game because if they thought we played a good game then they need to get their heads out of their a$$.I don't think so. Its time to RECRUIT big Mean O line players and D players. Look at Fla. State they roll they leave no dought who is the dominate team they just go out and kick the hound out of their competion.Dabo you are the HEAD COACH its time you make some changes or move on.

f8thwlk writes:

I was at the Maryland Game. Sat about five rows behind the Clemson bench. The players just seemed to be unconcerned. It did not look like confidence, it looked like indifference. It made me sick. I left the game shortly into the second half. Frankly I didnt care whether we won or lost. I guess I sat too close to the Clemson sideline and their attitude of indifference rubbed off on me.

DerrikB writes:

Tajh you need to have another talk with the players - just you and the players and figure out what you want to do with the rest of your season. That seemed to do the trick last year. Something needs to change because this is a talented team that has lost something.

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