Saturday night's 40-24 win over Florida State brings Clemson one step closer to reaching that proverbial next level.
The Tigers rattled off 19 unanswered points in the second half to drop the Seminoles for the sixth win this season. Swinney credits the strong fourth quarter to toughness, both mentally and physically.
"It's work ethic, guys who paid the price," he said. "When you've paid a real high price, it's hard to give in. It's hard not to fight."
Several Clemson players walked way with bumps and bruises after the game, although none appear to be too serious. Swinney doesn't believe that any of the injuries from the game should keep anyone from playing this Saturday against N.C. State. Da'Quan Bowers is questionable because of his sprained PCL/MCL.
"We're going into our 10th ball game," said Coach Dabo Swinney. "Most of these guys get a little sore over the course of the season.
C.J. Spiller walked with a limp after the game, but that's nothing new. Swinney referred to it as "his normal, banged up self."
Chris Chancellor sprained his ankle, but looked "good" Sunday morning. Swinney expects that he'll be back this week. Brandon Maye had a mild knee sprain. Crezdon Butler had a sore hip flexor, Chad Diehl had a bruised shoulder and Jamie Harper a deep thigh bruise.
"All those guys outside of Da'Quan should be ready to go by game time Saturday," Swinney said.
After three missed extra-points and two missed field goals, he said the place kicking competition between Richard Jackson and Spencer Benton is open.
"We'll go back to work, as far as getting them focused on their routine, really on the mental side of it. Physically, they're good kickers," Swinney said.
"Who ever is most consistent will start the (N.C. State) game."
Now ranked 24th before heading to Raleigh, Swinney won't put too much stock in the rankings until the season over. He's focused on getting into the ACC Championship and solidifying a spot in a bowl game over the next three weeks.
"We've made this a two-horse race now, coming down the backstretch," Swinney said. "They don't call the race off. You've got to finish the line."
He likes the recognition for the players and doesn't suspect that it'll change how they approach the first two days of practice this week.
"They realize what's at stake. They've got 13 days left in their ACC play," Swinney said. "This is just grind-it out time."
Having seen a fair share of quality quarterbacks through the course of the first nine games this season, things don't get any easier versus N.C. State's Russell Wilson this week.
"It's just another day as a Clemson Tiger. It seems like every week we're playing a good quarterback…he's a good thrower and an outstanding runner," Swinney said.
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