CLEMSON – There is perhaps no better teaching approach in college football than imparting perspective.
That could certainly be true this season for a Clemson football program where things have been going pretty smoothly for some time.
After six consecutive ACC titles and college football playoff berths and two national championships, last season’s team stumbled and finished 10-3.
It was seen as a down year for Clemson.
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After several seasons of winning ACC games by decidedly wide margins, the Tigers have struggled in almost every game in 2021, losing their grip on the Atlantic Division crown and winning four of their championship games by six points or less.
If nothing else, it was a cold dose of reality for players who had grown accustomed to antics that saw everyone enjoying themselves.
Given that, a bigger picture suggests such a wake-up call may have been just what the Tigers needed as the program enters its 14th season with coach Dabo Swinney at the helm.
“They have a healthy perspective, a unique perspective that really, honestly, no team I’ve had in a long time has had,” Swinney said. “It’s not their fault, but these guys didn’t have football adversity, if you will.
“There is a big difference between disappointment and adversity. If you lose a game, a national championship or a playoff game, it’s disappointing, but I wouldn’t call it football adversity.
He will sell that belief throughout pre-season.
So far so good, says Swinney, who has a penchant for finding silver liners.
“I was able to coach last year in a way that I haven’t been able to coach in a long time because I haven’t really had the chance,” Swinney said Friday, ahead of his team’s first practice of the pre-season. “There are some things you can’t teach on top of the mountain, if you will.
“None of us like adversity, none of us like disappointment, but it’s all good for us. It all depends on how you react.
The Tigers responded in a way that continues to give Swinney optimism. His team held 4-3 on Oct. 24, then finished with a six-game winning streak, which is the longest in the Power 5 heading into the Tigers’ 2022 opener at Georgia Tech on Labor Day night. .
The defensive prowess of this year’s team is unquestionable; consistent quarterback play looms as the biggest potential obstacle.
But Swinney likes what he’s seen and heard since the spring.
“We weren’t very good (last season) but we kept finding ways to win,” Swinney said. “It gave them a good perspective. I love their mentality.