Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly teleconference Sunday to review the win at Georgia Tech, update injuries and look ahead to Louisville. A transcript of the teleconference follows:
Very, very proud of our team and how they competed on a short week. A lot to get ready for, and a difficult challenge to go on the road, especially to play a team like Georgia Tech and their style of play. But really thought our guys prepared well and played well.
The first half was probably as good a first half as I’ve ever been around in all phases. Just a tremendous first half of football. Third quarter was really weird. Kind of a frustrating quarter because we only had seven snaps on offense. They had a long drive and took the clock down, which was a double-edged sword for them. But just good to see our guys finish in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, just a dominant effort. Played very, very hard the entire game. Dominated the line of scrimmage, played with excellent discipline. Did a nice job on third down. Any time you can make Georgia Tech punt the ball eight times, you’re doing some good things. So, a lot of positives in a tremendous performance.
Offensively, a great first half. We had two third downs in the third quarter, and that’s all we had, and we should have had both of them. But came back and did what we needed to do in the fourth quarter to manage the game and win the game. Took what was there type of a night. Lot of soft coverage, and as a result, we ended up throwing the ball. A lot of the throws were run calls that led to throws based on how they were playing us and how we’re built.
But good night, and some good things in special teams. I really felt like the punt team created field position for us all night. We pinned them inside the 20 four times, made a big field goal and continued to do a good job with the kickoff coverage.
Lot of good things in the ball game, and really proud of our guys for finding a way to win. Long time, obviously, since we won down there. Really pleased with the overall performance, and looking forward to a great week of preparation getting ready for a big one in the Valley this weekend.
Players of the Game
Offense – Ray-Ray McCloud
Defense – Ryan Carter, Van Smith and Carlos Watkins
Special Teams – Chad Smith
We came through the game pretty healthy. Jalen (Williams), as it turns out, it’s a MCL sprain. So, we’re very thankful for that, that it wasn’t his ACL. He’ll be out for a little bit, but eventually we’ll get him back.
Question – Will Austin Bryant be full go tomorrow at practice?
Not prepared to answer that right now.
Question – Is there a timetable for Jalen Williams’ return?
They just told me a few weeks. That’s all I was told. I’m sure I’ll know a little bit more tomorrow when we meet with the docs again.
Question – How do you contain Lamar Jackson?
We’re not going to lay out our game plan, but everybody is having a hard time for the same reason, and that’s he’s a great player. He’s special. Definitely an elite guy. He’s probably been the best player in the country the first however many games we’ve played. I think he leads the nation in rushing touchdowns, so you’re not dealing with just another guy. This is an elite player, and we’re going to have to play our best game to hold this guy down.
Question – Talk about Ray-Ray McCloud’s performance so far this season.
He’s been a very consistent guy. He’s gotten better as the season has gone. With (Hunter) Renfrow getting hurt, it’s opened up more opportunities for him. Artavis (Scott) has been a steady guy here his whole career and has had some big plays, as well. Then having Mike (Williams) back has certainly proven to be a big plus for us. He’s a big weapon.
Question – What do you enjoy about a week like this when the spotlight is on you?
I enjoy all the weeks. I really do. You only get 12 of them, so they’re all special. Some of them have a little more pizazz than others. That’s probably the biggest thing with this one, but I enjoy every single one of them. I enjoy the preparation, I enjoy the process of getting ready each week, I enjoy the Fridays and kind of the final finalization of the game prep, the hotel, the meetings, the bus ride in, everything.
It’s always special, but any time you get a chance to play a night game here at Death Valley, it’s going to be a great night. As far as a matchup like this, as a competitor these are the games that you relish having an opportunity to be a part of. They’re all huge and they all count and are big, but when you get a top-five matchup, those are unique and we’re excited to be a part of it.
Question – Have quite a number of players come in on their own over the last couple days to watch film on Louisville?
Guys don’t have to come in anymore. We’re in 2016, so they all have iPads and all that stuff. Back in the day, you had to literally be sitting at your office to get anything done video-wise, and now you’re never disconnected. These surfaces you have, you have everything, but we had some homework assignments for the staff and things I wanted to have done by this afternoon. It was a really good, productive couple days for us as coaches in some of the game prep we were able to get done. And our players, that’s kind of what we challenged them with was when they show up tomorrow for our meetings, to already have a good notebook full of notes on their own, as well. I’m sure most of those guys have done that. That’s the type of guys we got.
Question – What was your reaction to Les Miles’ firing, and what was it like coaching against him?
I was actually in a meeting with the defensive coaches this afternoon when the news broke on that. I hate it. I really do because I have a lot of respect for coach Miles. It’s a crazy business. We all know that. The game ends differently, and he’s probably still got his job today. All of us as coaches, we know what a fine line it is, and that’s why you have to keep a healthy perspective and enjoy the good times when you have an opportunity to, because it’s a crazy business. It’s not like he’s been an average coach. He’s been a great coach at LSU. But it’s a what have you done for me lately world. I wish him the best. I think a lot of him and I have a lot of respect for him. He’s been great for LSU and great for the game.
As far as competing against him, we played him one time, and it was down to the last play. We won with two seconds on the clock. It was an incredibly talented team that they had, and we had a couple great plays in the game that gave us the opportunity to win it. But I hate it for his family and all the people who were involved. I’ve been involved in an interim situation, and hopefully those guys can rebound and still go on and have a good season.
Question – With Jalen Williams out, who are some guys that might have a chance to get a little more playing time?
Those are all things we’ll discuss tomorrow as we look at some of our packages. We moved Jalen around a little bit. He’s mostly been playing our nickel-sam position. He and Dorian (O’Daniel) have been splitting time at the nickel-sam. But when Ben (Boulware) was out for South Carolina State, we had him play our WILL backer. He’s the one guy that we feel like can play our nickel-sam, our MIKE and our WILL. We really have high regard for Jalen, the type of player he is, his instincts, his knowledge. But he was primarily playing the nickel-sam position for us, so it will probably be more for snaps Dorian, first of all, is where it will start because they were splitting time. And you’ll continue to see some other guys mixed in there like Korrin Wiggins, and depending on what we do and the personnel we see, Ryan Carter.
Question – As well as the defense performed last week and the way it’s started off, what does that say about Brent Venables?
First of all, our staff does a great job of recruiting. To have consistency in your program, you have to recruit well. I think it’s about the type of players you have, and when you recruit well and develop well and evaluate well, you have a chance to have some consistency. That’s the lifeline, and our staff has done a great job of evaluating and recruiting and developing those guys.
That’s the key, and we’ve got the best D coordinator in the country. Brent just does an incredible job, along with Marion (Hobby). Marion’s our co-defensive coordinator, and he does an incredible job. He and Dan Brooks, there’s nobody better. These guys do a great job of coaching that D line, and the techniques and all the technical aspects of the position. And Mike Reed does a fantastic job on the back end with the secondary. So, we’ve got a really good group and a great support staff that helps those guys with their daily work. Just a good staff, a good group and they take a lot of pride in what they do and pride in preparation. A lot of intensity in what they do with Brent, and our guys respond to that.