CLEMSON — Losses have lingered at Clemson before under coach Dabo Swinney. One heartbreaking defeat seemingly has had a cascading effect where one loss leads to a second or a third.
Clemson lost to No. 15 TCU in 2009 and followed the next week with a loss to Maryland, the Terps’ lone victory against a FBS team that season.
In 2010, Clemson lost in overtime to eventual national champion Auburn and lost the following two weeks to Miami and North Carolina.
Last season, Clemson did not lose until Week 9 at Georgia Tech, but followed with two losses in three games. During the stretch, the heavily favored Tigers needed a last-second field goal to beat Wake Forest.
Swinney says the culture has changed at Clemson. He says the team is better equipped to play to a standard, to handle the emotional swings of college football.
His team’s ability to shrug off losses will be tested at 3:30 p.m. today (ESPN2) at Boston College, a place where No. 17 Clemson has struggled before.
“It’s a huge challenge for us, especially coming off a disappointing loss,” said Swinney, whose team lost at Boston College in 2010. “Everybody knows we have (struggled) up there. The big thing is I want to see our team respond like a champion. We are coming off a very difficult loss and I want to see us respond.”
Swinney said he liked the way his team returned to practice this week. He said he showed the team a “here’s what happened” video of mistakes from the Florida State game on Monday and closed with this message: “let’s go improve.”
“I was anxious to see how the guys would respond,” he said. “There are a lot of guys who are in that (leadership) role for the first time. I liked the look in their eye. They weren’t happy, they were disappointed.”
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd felt there was a hangover effect following the Auburn loss in 2010. To avoid an emotional letdown this week, he called a players-only meeting Monday to refocus a team that has a combined 63 freshmen and sophomores on scholarship.
“I think we have a chance to do something special this season,” Boyd said, “and you don’t want to get to the point where one loss just affects you to the point where the whole season is ruined.”
Boyd knows Clemson can’t afford to take Boston College lightly.
“No one ever gives those guys credit,” Boyd said. “Those guys are going to be ready to compete. … It’s going to be a challenge for us. I’m excited because I want to see how our team responds.”