Dabo: People "Missed" How Good We Were Last Year

Clemson, which won its final 10 games by 20+ points, somehow flew under the radar last season

Taz and the Moose
March 13, 2019 - 10:33 am
Dabo Swinney Clemson Alabama National Championship

USA Today Images


Clemson coach Dabo Swinney dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss some of the Tigers’ top NFL Draft prospects and reflect on the program’s 44-16 win over Alabama in the national championship.

Swinney thought Clemson would win that game, but he didn’t think it would be a blowout.

“Obviously we’ve played them four years in a row, so we knew them well and we were confident,” Swinney said on Taz & The Moose. “Alabama is an unbelievable team. They were 14-0 as well. I thought it was the best offense we had seen from all the Alabama teams that we had played, but I didn’t think there was any question we had the better team. I think people just missed it all year. I told our team in October, ‘We got the best team in the country here, and if we continue to do what we’re doing, we’ll have the opportunity to prove that down the road. But we got to stay focused.’”

They did. Clemson won 13 of its 15 games by 20+ points, including its final 10 games of the season.

“I thought we had the best team in the country, and all we did in that game was exactly what we had done all year long,” Swinney said. “It was just the fact that it was Alabama (that) shocked everybody.”

Alabama led 16-14 early in the second quarter. Then Clemson scored 30 unanswered points.

“No way did I think we would win by four touchdowns,” Swinney said. “Sometimes in games like that, the momentum can get going and it can get lopsided to where the score is really not indicative of the two teams. Those teams were much more evenly matched from a talent standpoint. Alabama is an unbelievable team. But we just had the better team that day. We had unbelievable leadership, incredible focus, clean execution, we took care of the ball, they turned it over, we had big plays, they didn’t have a lot of plays, they didn’t finish in the red zone – those things can get away when you’re playing a great opponent. I thought that we had the better team. I thought we could win by 10 or 14 points. I really did. But it just kind of got away from them once the momentum really turned.”

As for the NFL Draft, expect to see Clemson players off the board early and often, especially defensive linemen.

“Dexter Lawrence is a mountain of a man,” Swinney said. “He’s massive. He’s an unbelievable kid. You can’t find people like him. To me, there’s nobody in the draft like Dexter Lawrence – nobody. Nobody in the country. He’s the most unique guy in the draft.”

Swinney also called Christian Wilkins a “dynamic superstar.”

“Master’s degree in three-and-a-half years, never made below a 3.0, won the Campbell Trophy which is the academic Heisman, big personality, loves to practice, loves the weight room, going to be unbelievable in the community – this guy is going to be a game-changer,” Swinney said. “This guy is as dynamic a player as there is and such a leader.”

And let’s not forget about Clelin Ferrell.

“Clelin Ferrell, I think, is the best end in the draft,” Swinney said. “I think he’s the most complete player in the draft at his position. This is just a special group. They’re going to all land somewhere, and they’re going to make a huge impact with their new teams.”