What we heard: Tuesday press conference


Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly Tuesday press conference to discuss second-ranked Clemson’s first home game of the season. Various players then joined defensive coordinator Brent Venables to discuss what they have seen from the Troy Trojans, who will visit Clemson’s Memorial Stadium this Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. kick.

Here is what we heard:

Before the press conference began, it was announced that Dabo and Kathleen Swinney pledged a $1 million donation to IPTAY for future funding.

“This was a decision Kath and I made back in May. We felt like it was time for us to take a bigger leadership role,” Swinney said. “We never ever wanted to be seen as a taker. We want to be givers.”

Swinney mentioned he is really impressed with what he has seen from Troy, especially with their skill players on offense.

“The biggest thing I can tell you about Troy is that this is a dangerous football team. A lot of you guys might think that is coach-speak,” Swinney said. “I’m telling you this bunch right here can play. I’m very impressed with how well coached they are.”

Clemson has only played Troy once in 2011 and won 43-19, but the Tigers trailed at the half.

“I remember very, very vividly in 2011 jogging off the field at halftime against this team down, 16-13, and everybody was booing, including my wife,” Swinney said.

Venables said he was happy with what he saw from the defense against Auburn, and he hopes their consistency translates to the remainder of the season.

“I thought there was a lot of precise execution,” he said. “Really pleased with our effort and overall execution, just how hard they played and how hard they competed. For a lot of guys, that was their first start, and they played disciplined. That’s not normal for first-time starters, typically, to be as consistent as they were.”

He was especially pleased with the defensive line and how well the young additions have developed.

“I think that Marion and Dan Brooks have done an incredible job helping those guys grow up quickly,” Venables said. “It takes the players’ work, their understanding, their willingness to be coached, and it takes the coaches that functionally can give them tools to play fast and confident.”

Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins agreed that the defensive unit played a solid game, but there will be no complacency.

“It’s clear we had a pretty solid game as a defense, but we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. We put a lot of work into getting the results that we wanted. It shows that we have the potential to be a good defense, we’re just going to have to come in every week focused and really try to get better,” he said.

Wilkins was really pleased with freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.

“That guy is just a freak. He’s a man-child. He can do a lot of freaky things, people consider me a freak, but he can do a lot of things that I can’t at such a bigger size.”

Offensive lineman Jay Guillermo was happy to not have to go up against Lawrence for once.

“His production on the field on Saturday was not surprising to us at all. If anything we’re glad someone else can get to see what it feels like,” the senior center said. “We’re about tired of blocking him. Now we know it is not just us who has trouble with him sometimes.”

Lawrence will get to run down the Hill for his first home game on Saturday, and his teammates gave him a bit of advice.

“They told me not to fall. That is one of the biggest things,” Lawrence joked. “I’m going to do a little slow jog the first time to get used to it.”

It was also announced on Tuesday that Kendall Joseph was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week for his performance against Auburn.

“It feels awesome. I was kind of shocked to see it. I worked really hard for this moment and I just have to keep it up. That’s from last week so hopefully I can get it again this week and just keep working and try to strive to get better,” he said.

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