Clemson coach knows what the problem is

Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson is greeted by fans on the way to practice Tuesday. The defense gave up 37 points in last week's loss to N.C. State.



CLEMSON, S.C. — There’s little mystery behind Clemson’s recent problems and coach Dabo Swinney said the fix is just as simple: Cut down on mistakes.

“You want some grand answer?” Swinney said Tuesday of Clemson’s issues. “It’s 11 turnovers in three games.”

The Tigers (9-2) led the nation in fewest turnovers with just six during their 8-0 start. But they’ve been extremely error prone the past three games, resulting in losses to Georgia Tech (two interceptions, two fumbles) and to North Carolina State (two interceptions, two fumbles).

The Tigers needed a second-half rally two weeks ago to overcome a two-touchdown deficit and defeat Wake Forest, 31-28, despite two interceptions and a fumble.

“We’re lucky we hadn’t lost all three,” Swinney said.

The Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division winners will need to shore up ball security issues when they face No. 14 South Carolina (9-2) at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.

Swinney said his players’ efforts haven’t wavered the past month despite the losses.

“We know exactly who we are,” the coach said. “We’ve got a great group of guys that winning is extremely important to.”

Especially this week in what is the state of South Carolina’s biggest sporting contest. The Tigers have owned the rivalry since it began with a 65-39-4 edge. But the Gamecocks have the chance to win three in a row, something that hasn’t happened since 1968-70.

“We know what this rivalry means,” defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said.

It’s natural for a team as young as the Tigers – 42 players are redshirt freshmen or true freshmen – to have lapses during a long season, Swinney said.

The test comes at teaching them how to face adversity and get past their problems, which Swinney believes his players are ready to do.

“Let’s all get on the same page and be who we are,” he said.



COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s defense has carried it through this season, so it’s not much of a surprise that the No. 14 Gamecocks are a little beat up. Seven players came out of last week’s game with The Citadel shaken up, including five linebackers from the Southeastern Conference’s fourth-ranked defense.

Coach Steve Spurrier is optimistic most of them will be back for Saturday’s game against No. 18 Clemson.

“Right now, they’re all tentative. We’re hoping that most of them will be cleared by the time the game gets here Saturday,” he said.

– Associated Press


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