PITTSBURGH — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said that inexperience, injuries and a lack of preparation on his part were to blame following Pitt’s 27-17 victory over the Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 23.
“Offensively just once again, just so many missed opportunities, critical turnovers, drops and missed throws,” Swinney said. “Where we are right now we’re a very immature, very young, very unconfident offense.”
Dabo cited Pitt’s fourth-down score just before halftime as a turning point, and the two team’s third-down conversion rates: 10-of-18 for the Panthers, four-of-11 for the Tigers.
He also mentioned running back Will Shipley, who dropped what would have been a wide open touchdown pass, as momentum shift in Pitt’s favor.
“That’s kind of who we are right now. We’re a four and three team,” Swinney said. “I am 1000% responsible…it starts with me as a coach.”
Swinney also blamed injuries as a big part of Clemson’s middling record this season.
“We’ve got about 17 scholarship guys out,” Swinney said. “I can’t really do anything about injuries.”
Swinney credited fifth-year quarterback Kenny Pickett’s play as well.
“We didn’t affect the quarterback like we needed to,” Swinney said. “[Pickett’s] a great, great player…he’s just gotten better, better, better each year.”
Swinney praised sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei for how he responded to a third-quarter interception, which Panthers linebacker SirVocea Dennis returned for a touchdown. Swinney benched Uiagalelei following the pick-six, but later brought him back in when backup Taisun Phommachanh struggled to move the offense.
“I am proud of D.J. for, you know, how he responded on that drive, and just disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to get back and see what he could do,” Swinney said.
Despite that, he remained noncommittal on who will start for the Tigers moving forward.
“I think everything’s under evaluation at this point,” Swinney said. “We’re just, again, young and immature and under confident and not playing with any type of precision.”