College Sports

‘We think it’s cute.’ Clemson reacts as undefeated Tigers keep falling in Top 25

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was the head coach at Blythewood High School in Richland County in the mid-2000s before beginning his college coaching career at Presbyterian in 2007.

During his time as a high school coach, Scott would get creative when searching for ways to motivate his players.

“I’d get on Microsoft Word and make up my own article or something,” Scott said. “I always every week was looking for a little something, bulletin board material. I never used any copyright infringement. I will say that.”

Scott and the rest of Clemson’s coaching staff are not having to try quite as hard to come up with ways to motivate the 2019 football team.

The Tigers dropped in the AP poll following their third consecutive game, all victories, after beating Louisville 45-10 over the weekend. Clemson has gone from No. 1 entering its game at North Carolina on Sept. 28 (the Tigers won 21-20) to No. 4 this week.

“We were joking on the bus on the way back, ‘Wonder how far we’ll slide now?’” Scott said. “Somebody told me yesterday we’ve won five games by 31 points or more. I think Bama’s No. 1 and they’ve won three. And two of them were vs. Group of 5 (teams). That’s not really the rhetoric that we’re seeing out there.”

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney has maintained for years that the only poll he cares about is the one at the end of the year before the College Football Playoff begins, but even he had a little fun with Clemson’s drop in the AP poll during his teleconference Sunday night.

In 2018, Swinney pointed out, Clemson was winning its games by 28.7 points per game. This year the Tigers’ average margin of victory is 28.0.

“That .7 is elusive and we’re chasing that. It’s probably the greatest .7 out there. But we’ll keep working,” Swinney said.

Clemson’s players are having a little fun with the Tigers slipping as well.

“We think it’s cute. We think it’s funny,” safety K’Von Wallace said. “One thing they can’t do, if we go undefeated they can’t leave us out of the playoffs. I know that. Whether we win by one each and win every game, they can’t keep us out of the playoffs. We proved each year that we deserve it, even when we lost to Alabama my sophomore year. They can’t keep us out of there.”

While Clemson has dropped in the AP Top 25, the Tigers are No. 2 in the coaches poll. And it remains to be seen where the College Football Playoff poll, the only one that really matters, will have the Tigers.

The first CFP rankings come out on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

“We’re just going to keep doing the same thing. We can’t really do anything else. The last two weeks we’ve played well and won by big margins. I don’t really know what else we can do,” quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “We can’t control what they’re going to rank us and that’s obvious after the past two weeks.”

Even though Clemson isn’t playing up to the standard some AP voters would like to see, Scott is happy with where the Tigers are. Clemson has won 22 consecutive games and two of the past three national titles.

“Somebody was saying the other day if we keep winning at this rate we’ll be out of the top 10 by December,” Scott said laughing. “Truthfully, what we know is we’ve been here before. We trust our plan. We trust our preparation. ... We’re that horse that’s kind of waiting right back there and then all of a sudden we start making our gains when it really matters here. We get into that championship phase.”

NEXT

Who: Boston College (4-3, 2-2 ACC) at No. 3 Clemson (7-0, 5-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium

TV: ACC Network

Line: Clemson by 34.5

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Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The State.com
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