Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his Sunday teleconference to review the win over Auburn. A transcript follows:
After getting a chance to watch this tape and dissecting it first of all I want to say how proud I am of the effort our team put forth. They played hard and it was just an outstanding win. Although we weren’t as clean, especially offensively, as we would have liked to have been we were able to do some good things at some critical times on offense and defense. Overall it was a great experience for us early in the season. We have some tape now and some things we can coach and teach from.
I thought Auburn played extremely hard and competed all the way until the end as well. They don’t have anything to be disappointed about as far as what they can do moving forward.
It was a great experience for us, especially as we have some more tough road games down the road.
Definitely it was just an outstanding job. We had 14 tackles for loss and three sacks. We really dominated third down. Auburn is a team that hangs their hat running the football and to hold them to just 87 yards rushing. I am just really, really proud of our defense and the poise they displayed in some critical situations.
The three turnovers were huge but we also made some really critical mistakes. For the most part it was the least critical errors we have had in a while especially for the opener. But we did just have a really bad, dumb penalty that led to a touchdown. It would have been fourth and ten if we don’t hit the quarterback out of bounds. Those are the type of things you just can’t do. And then we gave up a big play. We were in a three deep and our safety is playing the run. So there were definitely a few critical errors there but overall our defense played tremendous. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage.
Christian Wilkins was the player of the game and I can’t say enough good thing about him. Auburn presented a challenge because there were a lot of unknowns going into the game and then just trying to manage all of the formations, different personnel and different quarterbacks. It was a unique night.
Offensively the biggest thing I am the most pleased with is we did have some critical drives. We started too slow. It took us too long to get our rhythm. We had some good drives that we didn’t finish but we did have some critical drives. I was very pleased to see that.
The most disappointing thing was the procedure issues. Obviously we jumped off sides the first play. I was disappointed with that and then we waste two timeouts before the half. We couldn’t get the signal in and then we break the huddle from the sideline and we have a guy that doesn’t know the play. That was disappointing.
We had four drops, three touchdowns. The four drops were critical plays for us and then a couple of mental errors. Obviously not staying in bounds at the end of the game.
At the end of the day to take that ball with 3:27 left and when it’s 19-13 on the road at the end of the 4th quarter and they just scored. They have momentum and to march down the field. We managed that well other than the third down there. We could have ended the game. That was huge and some big plays. It was good to see our guys respond. It showed maturity in that situation.
So there were some good things but we definitely did not play anywhere near what I expect us to be offensively. I don’t have any doubt that we are going to get better.
Special teams we did some good things there. I was disappointed with the extra point that we missed and then obviously we had a high snap that was just a great play by Seth Ryan in getting that ball down and a good job by Greg in kicking through the high snap. So that was a 40 yard FG that was critical for us at that time.
Again it was a good game, we got on tape and we found a way to win the opener which was our goal. We are looking forward to getting back home. This was our fifth straight game away from Clemson so it will be good to get back in the Valley for the next couple of weeks.
Health wise we came out of it good. We did not have any injuries that would keep anybody out of practice or anything like that.
Players of the Game
Defense – Christian Wilkins
Offense – Taylor Hearn
Special Teams – Seth Ryan
Did it ever cross your mind on that third down play to just take a knee?
We talked about that. We talked about all of those things. We wanted to just try to take as much off, we knew it was going to be close. We called a safe play right there and we trust Wayne. He just ended up bouncing out and the competitiveness of it took over and he just made a bad decision in that moment.
Most of the time we would kick a FG. But in that moment and those circumstances. Again we were very aware of the situation and we were all in agreement in what we needed to do. We had already seen a high snap. We had seen a low kick and our defense played well. And they really hadn’t demonstrated that they would just go down the field passing the football on us. Like I said if we executed the game was over but with 40 seconds and no timeouts and they have to go 83 yards on our defense, you know what, I am going to take my chances on that.
That was the decision for that moment. If we play a different offense at a different time then maybe we make a different decision. You make decisions in the moment to give yourself the best chance to win the game and that’s what we did and we won the game.
Is there a better all-around back that Wayne Gallman?
I love Wayne Gallman. He is just blue collar. He just does everything well. He is a great competitor and has improved so much in the passing game. His protection is one thing that people may not take as much notice of. It’s just the toughness that he brings to the team. I am really proud of him and don’t have any doubt that he is going to have another great year. With what Auburn was doing for him to grind out, he averaged a little over four yards per carry, and 120 something yards against what they were doing defensively. Hats off to him. He is off to a great start and definitely an under the radar guy.
Wayne had 30 carries last night. How important is it to get those other backs more carries in order to keep Wayne fresh for later in the season?
It will be very important. All of those guys will have plenty of opportunities as we move forward.
How satisfying was it to see how well Dexter Lawrence played?
He played great. He graded very well. He graded 80 something percent. You just got to see what we have been seeing since he got here. He is a really good football player with great instincts for a young player. He is hard to block. He is a load. He is productive. He gets off blocks and plays well with his eyes.
I am proud of him. For a young guy like that for his first game to get that type of experience and to not flinch. That sack he made against an athletic quarterback was just a tremendous play. That will bode well as he continues to move forward and grow his game experience and confidence with it.
Did you see any separation between Mark Fields and Ryan Carter last night?
They both played pretty solid. You are going to continue to see those guys compete. I think Mark played about 37 plays. He was a little more inconsistent. He graded right around 80 percent and I think Carter graded 90 plus percent in 33 plays. Both of them played well and did some good things. For the first time out they were very solid.
Hopefully we will get Marcus Edmonds back full go this week.
How did Jalen Williams play in the Nickel package? Will we see more of that going forward?
Jalen did a good job. I think the biggest thing in this first game is he was a guy that Brent really trusted. We have a couple of other young guys, DB type guys, that you are going to see as we move forward. I think the biggest thing was the trust factor. He is definitely a guy that you will continue to see as we go through the season. He is a good football player that is smart and instinctive that will definitely have a solid role on our team.
Did Mike Williams exceed your expectations last night?
Not really to be honest with you. We gave him three dropped touchdowns. Obviously he made some huge plays and it was good to see him get back but it looked like his first game in a while to us. We see him in practice every day and we don’t ever see him drop a ball. The slant and go was just a beautifully thrown ball. He definitely should have made that and then he had another play and then we had the slant for a touchdown. Those are plays that he will make but he made a lot of great ones too.
He made a bunch of plays but if we convert on a couple more we have a chance to get control of that game. Everybody just looks at the stats and says he played a great game but there is a lot more than just the stats at that position. There are a lot of little things. He only graded at about 78 percent. That is not a winning grade for a wideout.
That was his first game back in a year and his presence makes us better but we have to get him back at 88 or 90 percent range from a grade standpoint.
How did you feel about Johnson’s play?
Jadar played very well. He had one really critical mistake. On the play action down the middle he is the three deep safety. He has no run support and his is caught up looking in the backfield for the run. That really was his only critical error of the game. He played really, really well and that is what he has done. He has been very consistent.