By Ashley Denny.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his Tuesday press conference where he discussed the win over Virginia Tech and looked ahead to the homecoming matchup with Boston College.
Comparing this year to last year.
“They bought in last year, played hard. We weren’t a bad team, just had a bad record. No one was excited about playing Clemson; we competed, and played hard. Saw a lot of love on our football team last year, we were on the right track in a lot of areas. We had a lot of good things in place, taking root from a program standpoint. Outstanding leadership from our staff we didn’t have as much chemistry or moral on our staff last season and that’s my fault. Intangibles but underrated on football teams. Attention to detail, accountability way better than last year, more weapons that we didn’t have last year. We tried hard last year, but have a whole different dimension to us this year. Success breeds confidence. Young team, coming off a tough year it’s a powerful thing. Chemistry and leadership, talented young players are what’s changed,” said Swinney.
How do you make sure there is no letdown after all the praise?
“It’s a challenge in this day to block out the good and bad publicity. Our players are social people; it’s more accessible than it used to be. We’ve done a good job as team and staff. Worked hard since last Jan. to get them to not listen to the negative, we’ve had to get them to block all of that out so we can do our jobs. What they’ve bought into, if we’re going to change Clemson it’s from the inside. Stay focused on the process; if we’ll be about those things then we’ll change Clemson. Don’t listen to what they say. We know what’s going on, we’re here every day. When you have a bad season at Clemson there’s going to be a lot of negativity, it comes with it. Expect it and learn how to handle adversity along the way. That’s where our team has been incredible, why we’ve been able to sign a great recruiting class. Our players listen to the right things that carried over to spring practice and summer. No one had anything nice to say and our guys bought into the right things. That’s why our leadership is so good this year, they’ve seen the extremes and have a good feel of the big picture,” said Swinney.
“Pretty good shape injury wise. Lot of guys beat up, Spencer Benton fractured shoulder, out for a while. We’re going to miss him he does a lot for us. I hope to get him back before seasons over. Dawson will hold for us, we’re having a competition for punting and kickoffs. Worked Catanzaro in punting last week when Dawson was hurt, he’s capable if we need to use him. As far as who’s going to start now, I’ll have an answer later in week,” said Swinney.
Has the team or certain players exceeded your expectations?
“We’re still a work in progress, I thought that Tajh was going to play well at the beginning of the season, didn’t think he’d be where he is now. He’s unbelievable. A guy like Corey Crawford I’m very excited about him and his future. Tig Willard is a great example, redshirts, doesn’t play much as a redshirt freshmen, got hurt last year, now the lights have come on for him. Brandon Thomas is a positive for us, a work in progress. Philip price has been outstanding; I don’t know if anyone had anything kind to say about him at the beginning of the year when we said he’d start at Left Tackle, he’s done a great job. Some of those young defensive tackles are still a work in progress, hopefully over next seven games we’ll start to grow them up inside. I really like them; we’ve got some good players. We’re getting healthy and even though you don’t see those guys every week they’re improving in practice. They’re learning from Brandon and Rennie,” said Swinney.
On Mike Bellamy’s progress.
“Bellamy seeing more snaps because he’s earning them. More ownership in the position, we’re starting to trust him. He’s responding well, can really spark a game. If he continues to practice how he did last week and last night, you’ll see his role increase. He can change a game,” said Swinney.
On Brandon Thompson not receiving more national attention.
“Brandon Thompson may be off the radar nationally but not with the NFL. He’s the heart and soul of our defense. He doesn’t say a whole lot but I think he says a lot on the field, like when he’s running to tackle a person. Plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. When Meeks got his interception last week, Thompson was full speed chasing down field, wide open running 50 yards trying to help Meeks out. He hates to come out, every now and then has to have a breather. He’s a good football player, I’m glad we’ve got him. Opponents know who he is,” said Swinney.
Coach Swinney has big goals for the Clemson program.
“We want Clemson to be model program of College Football. Want people to look at Clemson and say “Wow look at Clemson, we’ve got to do what they do.” This team’s made a decision to be different from the past years,” said Swinney.
On the Clemson fans that showed up at 2:30 AM at the Westzone.
“Swinney never saw anything like the group of fans that came to welcome team home Sunday morning. It was a diverse group of people, some that probably hadn’t seen 3:00 AM in a long time, but it was a special moment for Swinney and his team. Something he’ll never forget,” said Swinney.