As a proud former Clemson player, I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me over these past few weeks to ask for my take on our upcoming semifinal game vs. Oklahoma. Most of them want me to “talk some trash” on the Sooners. They want me to “get everyone riled up.” And the same thing I always tell them, I’m going to write right here:
Nah I’m good.
We’re good. We’re gonna leave the trash talking to everyone else.
Now — that’s no knock on trash talk. It’s cool with me. It’s all in good fun, and there’s a time and a place for it. But when you’re undefeated … that’s not the time or the place.
When you’re undefeated, this is the move: quiet confidence. That’s the wave we’re on at Clemson right now. It’s a wave that’s been building for years, and one that I’m proud to be a part of. We’ve all watched the TV segments; we’ve all read the articles; and, yeah, we’ve all heard the talk. But on our end: quiet.
When you’re undefeated, the wins are loud enough.
This is a great team, man. A great team. And it all starts with Deshaun Watson. My guy was up for the Heisman — as a sophomore. But if you know him at all, or know his game at all … then you know that’s just par for the course. Honestly: if you’d told me that Deshaun would be a Heisman finalist before the season started, it wouldn’t have surprised me even a little. He’s that kind of player, with that kind of talent.
The defense? It’s lit. Coach Venables is going to dial up some blitzes, like he always does, and turn the intensity up to 100. This is a big-game defense, led by a big-game defensive coordinator. And hey: If anyone knows how to prepare for Oklahoma, it’s the guy who used to help run the place. When I think about how ready our defense is going to be on Thursday, I just nod my head and smile.
And then, of course, there’s Coach Swinney. As far as this team’s character goes, the buck stops with him. And I couldn’t be gladder that it does. He’s just the right coach, and the right leader, and the right ambassador for this school. This is Dabo’s year, man. America runs on Dabo.
And I’m especially glad that people are starting to take notice. If you’re just now finding out about Coach Swinney, or just now coming around on him, then — as someone who’s seen Coach bust out post-victory dances as far back as 2011 — I forgive you. This is our fifth-straight 10-win season, but I forgive you. We accept your late pass.
Also, listen: This is only the beginning. Coach has done much more than just guide Clemson to a place where we have a championship-level team. He’s guided us to a place where we have a championship-level program. Trust me: There’s a lot more Clemson playoff football where this came from. We’re just getting started. Stay tuned.
As for Thursday’s game: No shots at Oklahoma from me. They’re one of the top-four teams in America, and they deserve to be here. I truly believe that. Landry Jones and I may or may not have made a friendly locker-room bet on the game — and I know, from speaking with him, that he likes his squad a lot. Bob Stoops can coach with the best of them, Baker Mayfield can sling it, and the rest of those guys can really ball. But like I said: quiet confidence. That’s been our wave all year, and that’s our wave right now.
I thought I’d conclude this piece with an analysis of each of Clemson’s losses this season: