By Trey McCurry.
Head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media for his weekly press conference Tuesday to discuss this week’s matchup with Wake Forest. The Tigers go to Winston-Salem looking for their first road win of the season and bowl eligibility.
“First, I would like to say I am proud of our team with the way they respond. They have the right stuff and that is a great quality to have in life. They have been amazing to watch in when they get knocked down seven times, they get up eight. They have been a true team and supportive of each other. That was as hurt of a locker room as I have seen Saturday night. To lay it all on the line and put everything into something and not see the results, but then to see them back in here yesterday morning at 6:30 and be the way they are. I am proud of them with their will to keep working.”
“It has been a tough season for Wake Forest. They have struggled in the win-loss column. They are very well coached and are a young team, similar to us. It will be there senior day and a big day for them. We will have to go and play well. They have played very tough at home and I don’t see Saturday being any different.”
“Offensively, they are tough to prepare for. They change their scheme or package from week to week. They don’t have something they live and die with every single week. You have to prepare for a lot of things. They are playing two quarterbacks, with the freshman playing the most as of late. They have mixed in a lot of option this year regardless of what they are in. For us defensively, it is still about winning the line of scrimmage. Our guys have been playing dominant up front and we will have to do a great job with our eyes and get in formation.”
“Defensively, they start 10 freshman and five sophomores in their two-deep. They have a ton of youth. Since the open date, they have started using more odd fronts. They aren’t very big up front, but they are quick and disruptive. They don’t stay still and are constantly moving. The biggest thing is executing and finishing our drives with points. We have had some outstanding drives. We have had eight drives in the last three games of nine or more plays where we came away with no points. We have to finish.”
One of the things Swinney was asked about was if this team had a different mentality on the road or was it a sign of just playing tough teams. “We have the right mentality, we just haven’t made a few key plays. Nobody wants to hear that we are close and a few plays away, but the reality is we have four road losses by 17 points. We have to keep coaching and recruiting. I am not happy with where we are. We have struggled on the road and that is the difference in our season.”
Swinney also addressed Chandler Catanzaro and the job he has done this year. “Chandler is a freshman and has not had a good year. We wouldn’t have given a nickel for Dawson last year and he is in the running for the Ray Guy Award. Before he leaves, Catman will be one of the most consistent kickers we have had. I still believe in him and I am going to hang in there with him.”
Swinney also talked about DaQuan Bowers and what he has went through this year and how he has responded. “He is the perfect example of a guy maturing. He has been an inspiration to everyone…players, coaches, and hopefully fans. He has played as well as anyone in the country. I am awfully proud of him. He has become an emotional leader for our team and just refuses to quit. I walked in there the other night and you see this big ole kid sitting in the corner crying. He had laid it all on the line and all you can do is your best. He just continues to come back and will play a great game this week. That is what you are supposed to do and I am really proud of him.”
Swinney closed with a story on himself and how it relates to this team and the Clemson program.
“I have a scar on my hand from a football game I played as a 10th grader. I had a great game and was walking off the field just swinging my helmet. I was walking through the locker room door and this lady who had been holding it let the door go. It slammed on my hand and went right through it. I had blood going through everywhere, slipped on the floor, hit my head, and had to head to the hospital. I thought about it the other day. It was painful and it hurt, but it healed up nicely. It is there to remind me that everything is all right and we got better. We are in year two of trying to build this program the way we want to do it. We won our division last year and that wasn’t easy. I am telling you right now that we will look back on this season and see we went through some growing pains. We will look back on this season and it will be just a scar. I don’t need five or six years or anything like that. I just need a little patience. Everyone needs to back off the cliff and take their fingers off the panic button. Be supportive and not destructive. Let me do my job and we will be all right.”
Swinney and the Tigers will head Groves Stadium for a 2:00PM kickoff against the Demon Deacons. With a win, Clemson will become bowl-eligible for the 12th consecutive season and head into the South Carolina game on a positive note.