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Dabo Swinney Responds to Critics After Tigers Lost to Tennessee in Orange Bowl

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For the third consecutive season, Clemson missed several games. And for the second straight, the Tigers lost three contests. Friday night’s 31-14 loss to Tennessee in the Orange Bowl secured those numbers, which paint a picture of a program in decline under the coach. Dabo Swinney. From 2015 to 2019, Swinney and co. lost one game less than in the last two campaigns.

Tennessee, playing without key players like hendon hooker, Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillmanput Clemson’s problems on display like a true rookie quarterback Cade Klubnik was under pressure for much of the game. Afterwards, Swinney was asked what his response is to those who say the Tigers’ program has slumped over the last three seasons.

“Well, I mean, I really can’t – I really don’t know what to say to them,” Swinney said. “We’re 11-3. Of course, I wish we were undefeated, but we’ve won the league seven out of the last eight years. I think that’s only happened one other time, and that was in the ’70s, in Alabama. We’ve been pretty consistent, and we’re going to keep going. being consistent and keep trying to do everything to stay undefeated around here.

“I think we won 11 more games – in 1981 we won 12. I think we went 31 years before we won 11 games again at Clemson, and we did that in 2012, and I think we’ve done it eight times in the last 11 years, so I think we’ve got been incredibly consistent. Disappointing tonight for sure, but hey, we’re high – no one out there has higher expectations than ours. I promise you. Again, we’ll keep fighting. We’ll keep working. There are lots of great days ahead Ahead. Lots of great days ahead. People say what they mean. Always have, always will. We’ll just keep doing what we do. I’ve heard all these things before.”

Clemson’s offense has slumped in recent seasons under former quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who has since transferred to Oregon State. Klubnik is a former five-star recruit who threw for more than 300 yards on Friday but also threw a few interceptions.

The Tigers were not national championship contenders early in Swinney’s tenure, but they emerged as one of the best programs in college football once they had their defense planned by the former coordinator. Brent Venables. Clemson has now missed the College Football Playoff in two straight seasons for the first time since the event’s inception.

“We’re not perfect; we work really hard and try to win every game,” Swinney said. “These guys break out. You’ve seen what this kid has the ability to do. He’s got some moves – we all have moves we’d like to have back, but you get the chance to see how special he can be, and you see these guys’ hearts. You’ve got a freshman, a sophomore, and a senior sitting here, and they’re three of the greatest ambassadors any university could have.

“Again, you want to win every game, and when you’re a competitor, that’s what you strive for. But at the end of the day, seasons come and go. Every year is a new journey. We improved this year. We didn’t get there. where we wanted to be, but we’ve improved, especially coming off a very challenging season last year. Man, thanks again for the opportunity we’ve had to get here, and a lot of young people to learn from. I appreciate our fans who have driven. We’ve had a lot of fans coming in and supporting us, and we really appreciate them and we also appreciate the Orange Bowl folks for making this a great week.

“We’re all disappointed. My focus is on the youngsters in that locker room and making sure we learn from that and keep improving, moving forward.”

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