CFB Analyst: Clemson Had ‘One Hell of a Year’

Not all Clemson fans were satisfied with the way the 2021 season played out.

The season began with national title hopes but those never materialized. Clemson would not even make a NY6 game, much less the playoff as the Tigers went 10-3, garnering a berth in the Cheez-It Bowl instead.

However, for those that are actually paid to cover the sport, some think this was Dabo Swinney’s best coaching job to date. The Tigers faced one roadblock after another and despite a 2-2 start, the players still bought in. They still believed and that is why former head coach and current ACCN analyst, Mark Richt, thinks this was as an impressive a coaching job as we have seen from Swinney to date.

“They had to manage a lot more things than they had to before,” Richt said after Clemson’s bowl win. “Before, they were winning games easily, your biggest decision as a head coach is when do I take my starters out of the game? That’s what it was probably 80, 90 percent of these seasons for the last 10 years or whatever it was. Now every single game came down to the wire, and they won the majority of them. So, I think it was one hell of a year, and the fact that kids weren’t opting out, you stay within the house. Dabo held that team together and had the same enthusiasm as if they were undefeated.”

The biggest adversity this Clemson team faced all season might have been the injuries. The Tigers were down more than two-dozen players when they got to Orlando for the Cheez-It Bowl, with 19 of those out hurt.

“We had twenty-eight scholarship players unavailable tonight, twenty-eight,” Swinney said after the bowl win. “And, then two more, (Andrew) Booth and (James) Skalski, they are pretty good. They go out, so thirty. Thirty scholarship players unavailable, and then some pretty good coaches that are no longer with us, and an AD sitting on the beach under an umbrella right now.”

Swinney credited that buy in from the players as one reason why his team was able to bounce back and finish the season on a six game winning streak.

“To be sitting here 10-3, after starting 2-2 is just incredible,” Swinney said. “It just speaks to the leadership and the character of the young men in our program, the culture of our program, the heart of our coaching staff as well and the foundation that we have at Clemson.”

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