Swinney: We've come a long way since interim days

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This is always a week Clemson coach Dabo Swinney reflects on his life's journey.

That's because it was seven years ago on Oct. 13 when Swinney was elevated to the Tigers head coach. He replaced Tommy Bowden in midseason with Clemson in freefall.

''We've come a long way in the seven years since that time,'' Swinney said this week.

The fifth-ranked Tigers (5-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) attempt to take another step forward when they face Boston College (3-3, 0-3) on Saturday night.

Swinney was a little-known receivers coach at Clemson was he was placed into the head coach's office by former athletic director Terry Don Phillips.

Swinney's first coaching victory came at Boston College in 2008, a week after losing his debut game against Georgia Tech. These days, Swinney has the Tigers knocking at the door of the College Football Playoffs.

''At the beginning, we were just selling hope and belief and all that, and now we've got results,'' Swinney said.

Clemson is seeking its third 6-0 start in the past five years and its 34th consecutive victory over an unranked opponent.

The Eagles won't make it easy. They come with the country's top defense and have given up just two - that's right, two - offensive touchdowns this season.

But they haven't played on offense like Clemson, which is averaging 431 yards and 35 points a game behind quarterback Deshaun Watson and tailback Wayne Gallman.

''Our defense is playing phenomenal, that's not deniable,'' Boston College coach Steve Addazio said. ''We are going to face a real strong offense right now. So that's what we're going to find out from Saturday's game.''


Some things to watch when No. 5 Clemson plays Boston College:

CLEMSON'S DEFENSE: The Tigers defenders are pretty good, too. They rank 13th nationally in defense and last week, held Georgia Tech to its lowest rushing total (71 yards) in coach Paul Johnson's eight seasons. Clemson safety Jayron Kearse says his team is ready for the challenge. ''We want to go out and show that we're the better defense on the field,'' he said.

BC QB? Eagles coach Steve Addazio says he's got a starting quarterback for Clemson, he's just not saying who. Since starter Darius Wade fractured his left ankle last month against Florida State, Boston College has platooned two freshmen in Troy Flutie and Jeff Smith. Addazio said he's made some decisions about the plan of attack, but is keeping that under wraps.

RISING WATSON: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson had his most productive passing game of the season in last week's 43-24 win over Georgia Tech. The sophomore threw for 265 yards, his best total this fall, and connected with tight end Jordan Leggett on touchdown passes of 29 and 8 yards. Watson says he's not concerned with stat stuffing, just helping the Tigers succeed.

STINGY RUSHING DEFENSE: Boston College is one of the toughest defenses against the run the past two seasons. According to ESPN, since the start of last season, Boston College has allowed just 1,478 yards to opposing rushers. That's more than 200 yards fewer than any other Football Bowl Subdivision team.

WAYNE TRAIN: Clemson tailback Wayne Gallman is the next one up to try and penetrate the Eagles front line. Gallman has taken hold of the Tigers ground game, rushing for 100 or more yards in each of the past three games, something no Clemson runner had done since Andre Ellington in 2011 and 2012. Gallman's 115 yards rushing last week included touchdown runs of 66 and 1 yard as Clemson took a 33-10 lead by halftime.