ACC

There’s only one way to respond to wrath of Dabo, Clemson players say: Learn from it

Dabo Swinney lit into Clemson kicker B.T. Potter on Saturday after the sophomore missed a 24-yard field goal late in the first half of Clemson’s 45-14 victory over Florida State.

As easygoing as Swinney often seems when speaking in front of TV cameras, he also isn’t afraid to get after his players with some very visible feedback, and that was once again on display after Potter’s missed chip shot field goal.

Swinney often uses mistakes as learning opportunities and calmly explains to his players how they can improve. Other times — like Saturday — he gives them some tough love.

“That’s part of coaching, knowing when to love them and knowing when to chew them,” Swinney said Tuesday. “They all need it. They all need both. And they all get both here. They all get it. Every single one of them.”

Swinney’s berating of Potter played out on ABC’s cameras Saturday and was the most talked-about on-air incident since he went after punter Andy Teasdall in the 2015 ACC Championship game.

While Swinney’s rants that are caught on television can become national stories, other times they happen behind closed doors or at practice.

Tigers starting right tackle Tremayne Anchrum has been on the receiving end of Swinney’s ire and explained that different players respond better to different motivational tactics. The senior says he has seen several of his teammates be criticized as well.

“You try to learn from it, find things that are more instructional. Hear the message, not the tone,” Anchrum said. “You don’t let it get to you. You’ve just got to take it on the chin.

“It can be kind of socially embarrassing. You mess up and you hate when everybody sees it, and he brings attention to it. But at the same time you’ve just got to have thick skin and understand that you messed up and learn from it.”

Swinney insists that he doesn’t discriminate when he goes after players, treating the third-string kicker and the star quarterback the same.

If a player makes a mistake that Swinney feels warrants being chastised, he does it.

“Ask Deshaun Watson if coach Swinney ever chewed his butt. Ask Travis Etienne if coach Swinney ever chewed his butt. They all get it,” Swinney said. “Sometimes you’ve got to put your arm around them. Sometimes you need to really kick them right in the butt.”

Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers added that Swinney reacting the way he does over a mistake shows how much he cares about players maximizing their ability.

“It’s great because you don’t want a coach that’s going to be soft and easy on you all the time,” Rodgers said. “If you’re getting coached, that means he cares about you and wants to see you do well. So, we want to be yelled at if we do something wrong. If we don’t, we will keep messing up and can’t fix it.”

NEXT

Who: No. 2 Clemson (6-0, 4-0) at Louisville (3-2, 1-1)

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Cardinal Stadium; Louisville, Kentucky

TV: ABC

Line: Clemson by 24

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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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