Dabo Swinney says that for a football team, there are two types of pain: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.
As the newly fourth-ranked Tigers prepare for their home game Saturday against South Carolina State, Swinney is challenging his team to embrace the first type of pain in order to avoid the second.
Clemson's focus this week will be on maintaining its focus, and Swinney isn't expecting any unpleasant surprises from his Tigers, who he says have paid the price for the opportunity of playing a dozen 'special' games.
"Every opportunity you get is special," said Swinney. "That's what you train for and prepare and practice for. For us, it's about playing to a standard and being the best that you can be every single week.
"There's pain in discipline and there's pain in regret. There's pain in both of them, but one's a little better than the other."
For a coach wanting to drive home the point, the first weekend of the season offered plenty of motivational material.
"I know everybody looks at the schedule and sees South Carolina State versus Clemson, and thinks 'that's just an FCS team,'" Swinney said. "But if you think that way, you'll get beat. Just this past weekend they were erecting a statue for Coach (Bill) Snyder (at Kansas State), which was well-deserved, by the way. But they were beaten by an FCS team. I think there were eight FCS schools that won last weekend.
"The bottom line is that if you don't come ready you'll get beat. If you go out and play with low energy and turn it over and aren't dialed in on your execution against a team that's just the opposite - high energy and playing with passion and toughness - you get beat."
Swinney said that coach Buddy Pough's Bulldogs are capable of playing the spoiler.
"S.C. State is a veteran, very well-coached team," Swinney said. "They've got really good athletes, and their quarterback (Richard Cue) can really run. Defensively, they're very multiple, and they test your ability to recognize and communicate."
Swinney says the Tigers can't afford to revel in their victory over Georgia, and he reeled off a lengthy list of 'room for improvement' items.
"We've got to have great preparation this week, and we have to get better," he said. "This is a great opportunity for us to grow our team...We've got to throw and catch better, first of all. We were very poor, or very average I should say, in throwing and catching. It could have made a huge impact on the game.
"We've got to cut down on some of the mental errors on both sides. We've got to clean up the muff on the punt return and we have to handle the ball with consistency. We made two crucial mistakes there by veteran players, and that just shouldn't happen.
"We had some missed tackles - a couple of really big missed tackles by good players...And I didn't think we did a very good job with our protection. It wasn't scheme, it was just some simple things we have to execute properly.
"There are just a lot of things we need to improve. That's what I want to see on Saturday - a clean game with better execution."
Swinney said the Tigers' performance against S.C. State will be a test of the team's maturity.
"If we only play with emotion because we're on GameDay or because we're playing Georgia, then we're never going to be a great team or a consistently great program," Swinney said. "You get 12 Saturdays, and I don't care who the opponent is. You work too hard all year - grinding in the weight room and all that stuff. How can you not be excited to play? When that other stuff matters, you're inconsistent and you lose."