For the first time since 1989, Clemson shut out South Carolina via a 30-0 decision on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. The win allowed the Tigers a seventh straight Palmetto Bowl victory en route to ending the regular season on a five-game winning streak.
Here’s what Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after the game:
Opening comments: “That was fun. Just really proud of our guys, especially our seniors, to be able to leave here not only undefeated at home, but undefeated against South Carolina. That’s a rare accomplishment. Seven in a row, first time since the ‘30s. Just really proud of our team. That was Clemson football tonight. All three phases, and we’re playing our best football. These guys have been building. I’m just really proud of our staff and I’m proud of these young men. To start off 2-2 and to just battle every single week to figure it out, and here we are 9-3 in November, five in a row, seven out of eight. To be able to come in here and shut these guys out, that’s the first time we’ve shut them out since 1989. Nobody has shut them out. There’s not a defense out there that’s shut these guys out this year. Unbelievable, complete team effort.”
On ending the regular season with a 9-3 record: “We’re excited about a postseason opportunity. I have no idea where we’ll go, who we’ll play but I know this: This team will come ready. To have an opportunity to go battle for a 10th win, again, especially where we were to start out, it’s just a huge accomplishment and it just is a reflection on the character of our players and just the will to win, the great job that our staff has done. This was a great environment tonight. To walk in here, take the opening drive and score was awesome.”
On South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer: “I told our team at halftime and I told Shane, man, what you see in his team is special. I know it didn’t go their way tonight, but his team believes and they have not quit one time all year. In fact, they’ve outscored their opponents in the fourth quarter, and I just think that says a lot about the job he’s doing, the culture he’s trying to create. That’s a team that’s going to get better and better. It went our way tonight, but he’s doing a great job. Man, we’re just thankful to have a chance to be state champs and happy for our fans to be able to enjoy this one.”
On the Tigers’ shutout: “We’re going to have some Krispy Kreme doughnuts on Monday. I can’t wait. We go get them big zeroes, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and zero bars; it doesn’t get any better than that. That means you’re coming off a good day at the office. They were fighting for it. We talked about it at halftime. They’re like, ‘Hey, let’s don’t give it up. Let’s keep fighting for it.’ We were trying to be smart offensively, too. Just not put them in a bad spot, and we had terrible field position. We were playing good defense but it seemed like I don’t know how many times we were on the 1 or pinned inside the 5 and limited to just a little bit.
“We did a good job as a team, because to get a shutout, it’s really a team effort. Your defense obviously is going to lead the way, but you’ve got to do a good job in special teams. You’ve got to do a good job offensively. Our defense, they were fighting hard for it and especially with how these guys have scored in the second half and in the fourth quarter. All the way down to that last play, I don’t know where (South Carolina quarterback Zeb Noland) got tackled. Was it the 2 or 3 or 1 or wherever it was, it was awesome to see so many guys get to play and then continue to keep them out of the end zone.”
On advantage of recruiting this week instead of playing in the ACC championship and the transfer portal: “No, I’d much rather be in Charlotte. I kind of like that advantage, to be honest with you. That’s the best recruiting: when you’re in Charlotte playing for a championship. It is what it is. We’ll take advantage of it. We’re in a great place. As I’ve said many times, we’ll use the portal if it’s something that we have to. It’s not been a need for us at this point. If it ever becomes a need, then we’ll address it strategically. It’ll have to be the right fit, but it’s not something that we’ve needed. Obviously, every day is a new day in the recruiting world. I love our class that’s coming in. We’ll always be a developmental program. If we can’t address a need through high school kids and there’s a gap somewhere, we’ll always look at that as an option. Only if it’s something that we need.”
On the Tigers’ imposing rushing attack: “That’s football. When you can block the guy and you’ve got backs that can make guys miss in space, there’s nothing better than that. There’s nothing better than being able to run the football effectively. It just creates all kinds of opportunities. There was probably some other things we could’ve done in the passing game. We liked how we were playing, loved how our defense was playing and we had two or three or four possessions with really terrible field position, but it’s special. That’s a lot of rushing yards. It was good to see all three of those backs get in the end zone. Our tight ends, our receivers, everyone apart of that run game, and (quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei) making the right decisions in the run game was a big part of it, too.”