Swinney ACC Teleconference Transcript


Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly teleconference with the ACC Wednesday.  Here is a transcript:






Opening Statement:

“First of all let me just say I am proud of our team. It was a huge win (at Auburn). I appreciate the effort and mental toughness, and the heart that our guys displayed the other night in a very difficult situation. It is a tough place to play. I just have a great appreciation for how they competed. “That was our first goal, was to win the opener. We got that done. But for us to achieve the second goal, which is to win the Atlantic division, we are going to have to improve a lot, and we will do that.. IT is great to be home. That is the biggest thing that I can say about this week. “We have played five games away from Clemson and that is a lot of games without playing a home game. I didn’t really think about it until I was told that last week. And the other thing I am proud of our team is we have gone 4-1 in those games. You are talking about South Carolina, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Auburn. These are some great programs. It is good to be back home. “I am so excited to be in Death Valley and open this place back up for business. I love watching everybody work, and everybody doing their part to make this such an awesome venue, be it putting the flags up, people cleaning the stadium, or just getting everything ready. “There is so much that goes into the game day experience, because it is an experience at Clemson. People from the traffic control, to the parking, to just game day event management, it is a daunting task so that everyone can do what they love to do and that is come spend a weekend in Clemson with their family and friends and see the Tigers play. I am just pumped up to get it going again. On Dabo and his wife Kathleen Donating $1 million to IPTAY: “This was a decision that Kath and I made back in May. We felt it was time for us to take a bigger leadership role and allow the university to decide when the best time to announce it. I just wanted to do it and be done with it. “ I understand the role that I have within the athletic department as well. It is something that we prayed on and felt really passionate about. We are blessed to be able to give back. “First of all for us, we love Clemson University. We love the community. We love the State of South Carolina. I love the players that I have had the privilege of coaching since I came to Clemson. “This is our 14th year here. We re incredibly invested, and have been for a long time. We obviously have been very blessed by Clemson football. We have been blessed by God. “We are very passionate about giving to our Church and we all always done that. Kath and I have been married going on 23 years and when we had a little we still gave, we always gave. To the church, to the things in the community we believed in, whether it was financial resources, service, talent, time, we have always felt that servant calling. That has never changed for us. “ Since we came to Clemson we have always tried to be involved, and since becoming the head coach that was always one of the first things we talked about was “how do we make a difference”. “When the Good Lord takes me away from this planet, or away from Clemson, for whatever reason, we want to make a difference. We want to have mattered in this community. We started the All IN foundation and we have been able to raise over $2 million, and give over $2 million away through the help and support of so many volunteers who are passionate about the same stuff that we are. “Obviously, we have given a lot personally to IPTAY because we believe in it. We believe in the mission of IPTAY. I believe in this university, I believe in the leadership that we have from the board, to the President, to our Athletic Director. it is a special place and a big thing for Kath and I, we have just been incredibly blessed as we have gone through our life and career.


On Troy

“ Troy has 16-17 starters back. They don’t have a lot of seniors, but they have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football coming back and the biggest thing that I can tell you about Troy is this is a dangerous football team. “A lot of you guys will sit there and say that’s coach speak, but I’m telling you right now if they had “Auburn” across their chest, this bunch right here can play. I am very impressed with how well coached they are. I don’t know Coach (Neal) Brown, but I look forward to meeting him and telling him just that. “ It is just his second year, but I am telling you this is a very buttoned up football team. They are impressive in all areas. How they look, how they handle themselves, they are well coached, they have a good scheme on both sides and they know what they are doing. “Offensively, this running back (Jordan Chunn), we are going to have to put our big boy britches on to tackle this guy. He is a man. He is a 230 pound back that looks like an NFL player. He is a big time player. “They played a couple quarterbacks last week, and both of them can throw it. They are good up front, with veterans. They have a bunch of skilled guys at receivers. I am telling you this is a group that knows what they’re doing. “They went to App (State) last year and lost a shootout 44-41 in overtime. App State finished 11-2 last year and we know what they just did in Knoxville. This bunch right here is going to beat a bunch of people this year, so I have great respect for this team. They are going to be a big challenge to our defense.

“Defensively, the biggest thing that jumps out at me are they are physical, they have good athletes, and they create a lot of turnovers. They were eighth in the nation in fumbles gained by their defense. So they get their hands on a lot of balls. “ It is a much different scheme from what we saw last week, as far as there was a lot of man coverage and these guys do a lot of things from a zone standpoint with some exotic stuff with some trap corners and techniques. “We will have to really do a good job of being disciplined. When people are just lined up playing man-toman the decisions get easy, throw it to that guy and lets see if we can make a play. But when you are playing these zone teams that have people all over the place you have to be very disciplined, in your route running, in your quarterback, making sure you are reading and keying the right things, so you go through the proper progressions. “ I am telling you, this team right here, is going to be a handful. And I remember very vividly in 2011 jogging off the field at halftime against this team, down 16-13, and everybody booing, including my wife, and my mom (laughter), so it was not a pretty sight. We need to get excited about getting in the Valley. “ We have won 16 in a row at home. Our crowd deserves a lot of credit for that so let’s show up and do our part from that standpoint to support this team that has worked really hard. They will be excited I promise. They will be excited to get back and play here at home. Five games away, everybody is looking forward to being in the Valley.

On history and ties to Troy (third straight team from Alabama played)…

“Isn’t that crazy (playing a team from Alabama three straight games). It is amazing how that works out. I have known Larry Blakeney forever. Way back, I’ve known him a long time and have always had great respect for him and the job that he did at Troy. “When they were a 1AA team they were dominate and eventually made that move, and he did an incredible job at building a very consistent program. I don’t know a lot of the guys there on the staff, I obviously know Coach Vic Koenning, but I don’t know a lot of the other guys. They have a long tradition and again I cannot say enough about how impressed I am at how well coached this team is in all areas. “They recovered three onside kicks last year, so hold onto your hat for that. This is a football team that is going to challenge us in all areas”.

On anyone that stands out offensively from Troy…

“All of their receivers they’ve played, about 7-8, of those guys and they play well. That number 8 (Emanuel Thompson) is a jacked-up, big, strong, kid. They like to throw the ball up to him. They have little No. 15 (Andre Flakes) is a scatterbug, and they put him all over the place

“They played Brandon Silvers and Sawyer Smith at quarterback in the first game. Silvers made some throws, with guys in his chin strap, and he was throwing touchdown passes. He is fearless, Incredibly impressed with his toughness. Same thing with Smith, their backup. On the first play he came in he throws a touchdown pass. All of their skill guys are physical up front. Their left tackle (Antonio Garcia is a very good player. They do a great job with their double teams, and really understand their scheme and what they are doing. “They are going to try to play with tempo, a lot of run-pass-option stuff. Everything is a play action so they will create a lot of stress and there is going to have to be a lot of competitive plays won by our corners and our safeties. This is going to be a challenge because you cannot give them a lot of space and you have to be able to challenge them and hope that we can win the matchup up front.”

On Vic Koennning’s Coaching style…

“I think Vic has been very consistent as far as who he is and what he believes in. He is a good coach. If you are going to be a good coach in anything you have to have an identity, something to hang your hat on, something you believe in. That is the only way that your guys are going to buy into what you do. “Coach Vic is a heck of a coach, and he did a lot of good things here. It was a challenge going against him a lot of times out here on the practice field with a lot of the things that they do and he has had a long successful career at a lot of really good places. “ He was at North Carolina a couple of years ago when we played them here. He is a good football coach and even though it was an awkward situation here with a midseason coaching change, in that time, I always have a great appreciation for Coach Vic and how he handled himself in those seven weeks that we worked together in a different role. “He could have walked away, said no, but he really was professional and did a heck of a job down the stretch there. I always have an appreciation for the role that he played in helping us at that time. “He has a scheme that he believes in. There is a lot of carry over, but that’s why he has been successful. They will have some things I’m sure they will try to attack our protections, certainly they will have some things to try to minimize Mike Williams, that’s just what good coaches do, but we will have to answer that.

On Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins package…. “When we signed Dexter (Lawrence) and we saw him in the Spring, I said ‘Yep, we are going to be using this big boy’. We didn’t mess with it in the spring, we brought it to him this summer and said we are going to have a little package and use these guys.

We just started practicing it in fall camp, and we have a nice package out of it and can go to it when we need it. Those were some big heavy duty guys that take pride in that, it really isn’t rocket science. “Can you get one yard? Can you move that guy against his will? That is what it comes down to. It is not like you have to trick a lot of people. Most of the time bigger talented guy beats the smaller, talented guy and that’s usually all it was. You never know (if you might expand that presence). We throw fake punts to D-tackles around here, so you never know what we are going to do.”

On players who didn’t get the opportunity to play at Auburn

“That was probably one of the biggest disappointments for me out of the game. I did a poor job of managing our personnel like I wanted to. Again, first game, very difficult place, and I am going to do a better job of that. In fact I apologized to some of the guys. It is frustrating to me to have some guys that deserve to play that don’t get the opportunity to get in there. “A guy like Maverick Morris, a guy like Justin Falcinelli , they deserve to play. Again, there is no entitlement to play and sometimes you have guys that are pretty close, kind of like what we have at DTackle right now, and you just play them. The thing you have situations like a Tre’ Lamar, he is a young guy. Kendall Joseph has been here for three years, he is coming, but those eight plays Lamar got were critical. I did a poor job. Albert Huggins was another guy that should have played that didn’t get in there. You will see that is an area that we have to do a better job of and that’s all me so I have to do a better job managing that a whole lot better.

On tempo offense and managing the game…

“I think first of all we need to do a better job. I thought our tempo was average the other night. You don’t want to move so fast that you trick yourself either. When you go at a blitz pace it has to be very simple. You can’t have personnel changes, you can’t have a lot of formation changes, and we get into some of that from time to time. We are a tempo team, but we do process a lot. “We want to have the best play and a lot of that goes on our quarterback and him being trained properly and being able to make the best decision. You pick your spots for us in the flow of the game and the feel. We don’t want hurry up, run a bad play, that’s not the objective. We want to play with great tempo, we want to attack, that has always been our philosophy, but we do want to give ourselves a chance to be successful. “Sometimes playing some of these teams, like the other night, there are so many unknowns, there are a lot of communications going on. That is one of the things I was most pleased with our offensive line. We had no one jump offside and we had no missed targets. We targeted all night. We had a couple times that we got beat but it wasn’t because we were turning people loose.

“There was a lot of stuff that was coming at our guys and I was very impressed from an offensive line standpoint and what we were able to do. That was part of it. But when you can get that tempo going, you simplify some of those things defensively. As you go into the course of the season you tend to know more about the opponent that you’re playing as opposed to last weekend.

On the defense…

“Once again, they played really well. And again, we didn’t really know. We had a good base plan and we had kind of Plan A, Plan B, of different things that we could see, but they did a heck of a job. We had a couple of things from just an alignment standpoint, eye distance standpoint where we weren’t quite where we needed to be, but the overall discipline that we played with was very good. “I think we only had just three or four mental errors, which is way down from last year in our opener, so I was very impressed with that. I was very pleased with some of the guys that I thought would play well like Christian (Wilkins), like Clelin, like Kendall Joseph, like Jadar Johnson, like Van Smith. “Fourteen tackles for loss, four sacks, just disruptive and then we created the three turnovers. The two biggest issues they had were nine minutes to go, you’re up two touchdowns, and we bust cover three because our middle safety wants to come make a play that’s not his job, and so that is where we have to grow as a defense. “That got us in trouble last year. We would get undisciplined at times, especially when we had leads and that is where we have to improve. That led to a huge play, and that might be the only mistake that Jadar had, but again, Jadar played great. “Sometimes these guys get so competitive and that’s a good thing but you have to stay disciplined. When you’re a three deep safety, you’re the 11th guy at the party, you aren’t breaking on anything until that ball is five yards past the line of scrimmage so that’s was very disappointing because that’s a discipline mistake. It wasn’t a competitive play or anything like that. Sometimes guys just make plays. Those are things that we have to improve on and then it is going to be fourth and ten and Ben (Boulware) hits the quarterback out of bounds. Just incredibly disappointing and then they score the next play. Those are the things that we have to eliminate defensively. Other than that, they played very well and I am very proud of him.

On Van Smith…

“He did a good job. It was his first time to get that type of starting assignment and that type of challenge. Not quite as consistent in finishing some of the tackles that we need him to be but I think he will get his sea legs under him. It wasn’t too big for him, but I think that experience is really going to pay off for him. “He is a heck of a football player and very instinctive in playing the game. I think he did a heck of a job, especially with all of the misdirection and all of the things he played with very good discipline. Even on the wheel route that they got him on the pick play, and the wheel route on the sideline, he really played it well, but if he keeps his eyes on his guy, he can go make the play, but he ran about five yards looking back. “Those are the little things that he will learn, but the guy wasn’t running wide open, he saw it, we just have to clean up some technique things with him. I am proud of him. He did a good job.

On fans being upset by offensive play…

“I am sorry we disappointed them. That is all I can tell them. We went to win the game and that is what we did. We did drop three touchdown passes that we normally catch and we did have a fumble in scoring position. We weren’t quite as clean. Fourth and five, we are probably going to hit Deon (Cain) for a touchdown, but we had a dead ball, and another third down we had a tipped ball because we don’t cover the guy like we are supposed to. So we just miscued on a few things, but we will continue to be fine offensively “ I think it is great though (they were upset). I think that means we have become a relevant program when there is a group of people that aren’t even happy when you win. Hey, I feel sorry for those folks, we are just happy. We are always going to get better. I can remember a time not very long ago, nobody would have expected us to go to Auburn at 8:00 PM, on national television and win. “Now we are expected to win, which is awesome, that’s the way we want to be. We are supposed to win by a certain amount and all of that, but that’s not my objective. My job is to win football games. Not make other people happy by how we win. My job is to win games and that is what we try to do each and every week and we have been pretty consistent. I love that mentality and expectation, that’s where we want this program to be”

On Austen Bryants return…

“He is doing well. I don’t really have a set date right now. It truly is a day to day thing. It is kind of on his human body, on how quickly he heals up. He is doing very well and as we expected, getting better, day by day. Certainly out this week and next week but, we will go for there. I think it’s a chance (he’ll play at Ga Tech), but I don’t think we will even speculate on that until we get through these next couple of weeks.

On Cleland Ferrells Growth…

“Physically, just confidence. We almost played him last year, but he was coming off of that knee surgery and just didn’t quite have his foundation the way it needed to be in our opinion. We really wanted to throw him in that power hour and let joey transform him a little bit. “We kept him with us for about the first four or five games because we didn’t really know what was going to happen, if you lose Shaq (Lawson) or (Kevin) Dodd, but we were fortunate because those guys stayed healthy and we were able to hold him, and because of that his confidence and strength is just much better. He is healthy. “He has had that full amount of time coming off that knee, and really strengthened it. He had a good offseason, and Spring, and it was good to see him get off to a good start. He is going to be a really good player”

On preseason polls…

“All it foretells me is that preseason polls are a waste of time. I mean that is what it tells me. That’s why we shouldn’t have preseason polls. Oh, we had another upset, well how do we know it’s an upset. That might be the best team in the country. Didn’t we have a team win the National Championship that wasn’t ranked a couple of years ago? It might have been Auburn. “Auburn wasn’t even ranked and won the National Championship. So that is what that means. Okay so the teams that lost to Auburn early that year was an upset because they lost to an unranked team…no, Auburn was just a really great team. Nobody knows. That’s all it really means to me is that preseason polls are a waste of time. “We ought to wait to October, but then no one would have anything to talk about on the radio. There would be nothing to write about or speculate about. So I get it. It’s fun. I have to do my poll pretty quickly. Who knows, it is such a crap shoot right now, but it will settle out, you will start to see who is real and who is not. “


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