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Clemson Football Coach on 2021 Struggles, 2022 Outlook

CLEMSON – There is perhaps no better approach to teaching college football than teaching perspective.

That could certainly apply this season to a Clemson football program that has had it fairly easy going for quite some time.

After six straight ACC titles and college football playoff berths and two national championships, last season’s team stumbled out of the gate and ended 10-3.

It was perceived as a bad year for Clemson.

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After several seasons of winning ACC games by decidedly large margins, the Tigers struggled in nearly every game in 2021, losing control of the Atlantic Division crown and winning four of their league games by six points or fewer.

Last but not least, it was a cold dose of reality for players who were used to a romp where everyone could join in the fun.

Given that, an overall perspective suggests such a wake-up call may have been just what the Tigers needed as the program entered its 14th season with coach Dabo Swinney at the helm.

“They have a wholesome perspective, a unique perspective that really, honestly, hasn’t had any team that I’ve had in a long time,” Swinney said. “It’s not their fault but those guys haven’t had football obstacles, if you will.

“There’s a big difference between disappointment and adversity. When you lose a game, a national championship or a playoff game, it’s disappointing, but I wouldn’t call it a football disaster.”

He will sell that belief throughout preseason.

So far so good, says Swinney, who has a penchant for finding silver linings.

“I was able to train last year in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time because I haven’t really had the opportunity,” Swinney said Friday ahead of his team’s first preseason practice session. “There are certain things you can’t teach on the mountaintop, if you will.

“None of us like adversity, none of us like disappointment, but it’s all good for us. It just depends on how you react.”

The Tigers responded in a way that continues to give Swinney optimism. His team was 4-3 on Oct. 24 and then ended on a six-game winning streak that is the longest in the Power 5 heading into the Tigers’ 2022 opener at Georgia Tech on Labor Day night.

The defensive strength of this year’s team is unquestionable; Consistent quarterback play emerges as the biggest potential obstacle.

But Swinney likes what he’s seen and heard since spring.

“We weren’t very good (last season) but we just kept finding ways to win,” Swinney said. “That gave them a good perspective. I love their mentality.”

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