Dabo Swinney says tempo matters, except when it doesn't.
Statistically, Clemson is 14-0 under offensive coordinator Chad Morris when it runs 80 or more plays (thanks to Marty Coleman of SeldomUsedReserves for that tidbit). The Tigers are 9-6 under Morris when they're held to 79 plays or fewer.
Swinney wants his team to play at a fast tempo - that's one of the reasons he hired Morris in the first place.
But tempo isn't the end-all for the Tigers, or for any other team that tests defenses with an accelerated pace of play.
Everything comes down to execution, Swinney said this week, as the Tigers prepared for another quick-tempo opponent in N.C. State.
He cited the Alabama-Texas A&M game, won by the Crimson Tide 49-42, not as indictment of the teams' defenses, but as a testament to offensive execution at the highest level.
"Tempo offenses don't work if you don't have good players," Swinney said. "You can go fast and have three-and-outs. Tempo is great when you're putting first downs together. But it all goes back to having good players.
"Texas A&M is really, really good. I mean, they have Johnny Football. It's crazy - he put 600 yards up on Alabama. That's not tempo - that's because they've got a bunch of good players that know what they're doing and execute their scheme at a high level. (Alabama) ain't covered that wideout yet.
"Tempo had nothing to do with a guy playing man-to-man coverage. That's who they are - that's what Alabama does: 'hey, if you're good enough to beat me, then beat me.' It all came down to this guy was better than that guy, and the quarterback could make the throws he needed to make, because that's what Alabama's defense presented to them.
"As it came down to it, Alabama's offense was even more consistent, and they made a few more plays."
Swinney noted Georgia Tech as another example at the opposite end of the offensive spectrum.
"Regardless of what you do, it all comes down to execution," he said. "Look at all the points Georgia Tech has scored in the first two games, and they run the triple option. But they know what they're doing and they're going to score on everybody. As long as they have people who can execute their system, they're going to score.
"So, again, it all comes down to execution - guys making plays, guys getting off blocks, guys making tackles, guys being disciplined with their assignments."
Swinney said that for the Tigers, pushing the tempo fits Clemson's personnel and serves a tactical purpose.
"For us, the tempo stuff is good, because that's the way we're built," Swinney said. "We've got a lot of speed and a lot of guys who can make plays in space. So we create that space and get them the ball, and then we press the tempo, which adds to it.
"But if you're not executing well, and don't have the players to run it, then you're just doing a lot of punting, and you're probably getting beat bad."