Veteran experience, leadership has been keys to Tigers’ run


Once again, Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers are stacked with talent. However, talent is not the only thing that will make Clemson good this fall.

The fact Clemson is talented, but has even more experience is why many believe the Tigers will contend for another national championship.

When Clemson begins fall camp later this summer, it will have 23 seniors on the practice field. Of those 23 players, 12 have already graduated. Of the 23 total seniors on the roster, 20 have either started at some point in their careers or have been major contributors.

By the way, Clemson also has 10 redshirt juniors on its roster.

“I think you can coach them hard right out of the gate because they know. They know what it takes. They know what to expect,” Swinney said.

And that is what makes them fun to coach, according to Swinney. The starting point is at a different spot than in most seasons for many of his players, but there are still other players where the coaches have to “literally” go right where they are and bring them along.

However, the coaches don’t have to bring the young players along by themselves. This is when having a veteran team that is so deep with experience helps.

“One of the best things that is woven into the cultural of our program, and probably one of the reasons why we have been so consistent, is just the pride our veterans take in nurturing the young guys and teaching, ‘this is how we practice,’” Swinney said. “Teaching the position, teaching the concept, but also the core values of who we are … ‘No that is not how we do things here.’

“So that is a great position to be in too because it is like you have a lot of guys helping get the message (out) the way it needs to be.”

Only Alabama has won more games in the last seven years than Clemson. The Tigers are 82-15 since 2011, the greatest seven-year stretch in school history. Clemson has won six bowl games, four ACC Championships, been to three College Football Playoffs, played for the national championship twice and won it once during this time.

Don’t get Swinney wrong, he still has to start over every year as he reinstalls the who, what, where, when and why they do what they do. However, he likes the fact he has so many veterans on the team that know what they are doing.

“For the veteran guys, they know what to do,” the Clemson coach said. “They know how to do it, but I think you take another step forward as a player when you really know why. When you really understand why it is important that you do you your job this way on this play with this technique and how it impacts the overall call.

“We have a lot of guys that are at that point and we have a lot of guys too that are just learning what to do and that is all they can handle on their plate right now and then they have to figure out how to do it and then hopefully we will get there.”

In other words, Swinney has a good mix and his team is already where it needs to be mentally.

“I definitely think this is as deep as a team that we have had at a starting point, but hopefully we have the depth the way we want it when it is all said and done,” he said.


Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders.  TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship.  Order your copy today!



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