Clemson University

Beating Syracuse is fine, but what Clemson really wants to do is dominate

‘A lot of respect for Syracuse,’ Clemson’s Dabo Swinney says

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney talks about the upcoming game against Syracuse.
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Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney talks about the upcoming game against Syracuse.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t worried about style points, he said before the start of the 2019 season.

His players had a different message following last week’s 24-10 victory against Texas A&M.

From star quarterback Trevor Lawrence to starting safety Tanner Muse, Clemson’s goal for the matchup against the Aggies was clear during postgame — to leave no doubt.

“A lot of people said it was lucky we came out of there [in 2018] with a win. So we wanted to leave no doubt this year, and I think we did that,” Lawrence said.

The goal is the same for the top-ranked Tigers this week as they travel to Syracuse — the site of their last regular season loss. The Orange upset Clemson in the Carrier Dome in 2017, and the Tigers had to rally for a 27-23 victory a year ago.

“The last time the team went to Syracuse I wasn’t on the team, but they beat us, so we’re going to have some motivation going into the game,” Lawrence said. “Definitely kind of want to leave no doubt this game.”

Clemson is at a point now where it’s not good enough to just win. The Tigers want to win handily and impose their will on the opposition.

Clemson has won each of its past 12 games by at least 14 dating back to last year’s matchup against Syracuse. The Tigers will almost assuredly be double-digit favorites for the rest of the regular season.

“We try to dominate the opponent. It doesn’t matter who you play or where you play,” Swinney said. “They keep score for a reason. Let’s try to dominate the opponent and have a killer instinct to our team and do it for four quarters. Let’s come out ready, let’s try to sustain for four quarters and let’s finish.”

Swinney started preparation this week by playing highlights from the 2017 loss to Syracuse during a team meeting, reminding his players of what it felt like to lose in the Carrier Dome.

“Just a lot of emotion, disappointment,” defensive end Logan Rudolph said of what it was like watching the highlights. “We really know that we can perform better than that and we’re excited to do that. We’re gonna take this week seriously and really prepare for these guys the best we can.”

Clemson’s last trip to Syracuse was a disaster with Kelly Bryant being injured in the first half and the Orange putting up 440 yards of offense and 28 first downs.

“We didn’t leave any doubt when we went up there two years ago. There was no doubt. They beat our butt,” Swinney said.

The Tigers are looking to leave no doubt in a different fashion Saturday.

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Who: Clemson at Syracuse

When: 7:30 pm Saturday

Where: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York

TV: ABC

Line: Clemson by 28

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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