Dabo Swinney on Clemson's 2-2 Start After NC State Upset: 'We've Got to Own It'

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2021

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, right, speaks with officials during the second half of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said his team has to hold itself accountable after a stunning 27-21 double-overtime loss to North Carolina State on Saturday night.

"We've got to own it," coach Dabo Swinney said, per ESPN's Andrea Adelson. "It's where we are right now. We need to get back to work on Monday, continue to learn, continue to grow, continue to fight, and continue to stay together. Let's just find a way to win a game, find a way to get on track and see if we can build some momentum in our season."

The upset loss dropped the ninth-ranked Tigers to 2-2 on the year and has potentially knocked them out of the College Football Playoff race. Their first defeat was a 10-3 loss to No. 2 Georgia in the season opener, but the struggles on display against the Wolfpack are much more concerning.

Sophomore quarterback DJ Uiagalelei had another rough game on Saturday, completing 12-of-26 passes for 111 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He's been a letdown for the Tigers this season after impressing in fill-in duty for Trevor Lawrence as a true freshman. Running backs Will Shipley and Kobe Pryor also failed to gain traction against the Wolfpack, combining for just 41 rushing yards.

Mike Uva @Mike_Uva

It’s my duty as an unbiased local reporter, to share that Clemson has dropped their first game against an unranked team since 2017. Clemson is now (2-2) on the year and will most likely drop out of the top 10.

Swinney didn't shy away from criticism of the offense.

"With the way we've performed, you're going to get criticism and you're going to get comments. It comes with the territory because the expectation and the standard at Clemson—we're not meeting it," he said, per Adelson.

Despite the inconsistency on offense, the Tigers still had a chance to win this game on the road. The defense has been excellent this season, holding the team's first three opponents to 10 points or fewer. NC State managed 386 total yards, but according to NCAA.com, their 4.0 average yards per play was lower than Clemson's 4.4 yards per play.

A run at the College Football Playoff is all but over—as Adelson notes, no two-loss team has ever made the playoff—but the Tigers can still challenge for an ACC title if they can find balance on both sides of the ball.