By Ashley Denny.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly press conference where he previewed the road contest with Maryland.
“Good first half to our season, we’ve been a good second half team all year, that’s what it’s going to take to get us to have a good second half of the season. These guys take pride in their performance, still a lot of things to coach, haven’t had a perfect game by any stretch of imagination.
“Big game, division opponent, right in the thick of it, one loss, right in the middle of it. If we want to stay in driver’s seat we’ve got to take care of business, don’t want to put fate in another team’s hands. Don’t let Maryland’s record fool you, they’re a capable team, have had some guys out. They beat Miami.”
“Offensively, they’re starting two seniors this year, two very good tackles, tight end 89 good all around player, does a very good job as their second leading receiver. Receivers is the strength of their team, they can really run, as a group they’re dangerous they throw a ton of screens to those guys. We’ll have to play well at corner, cover the pass very well. Megget is a tough physical runner. Quarterback, they’re not sure themselves who will start against us. I know #5 is a good player, I’ve seen him as a good player. #16 in one game is the second leading rusher on the team; we’ll have to do a good job defending him from a zone read standpoint if he’s in there,” said Swinney.
The latest on injuries
“We’re very fortunate injury wise; this is the best shape we’ve been in a long time. We’re very lucky for Tajh and his situation. He’s okay and will be taking every snap today at practice. The biggest grief he’s been catching is from his teammates, having to be carted off the field and riding in the front seat,” said Swinney.
On keeping the team focused.
“I don’t want my team to lose their edge, I don’t want them to start reading the press clippings, get them dialed in to our formula for success, and it’s been the same every week. I’ve seen teams lose their focus and humility, think it’s all about them. Must stay dialed in as a team, it’s a team goal. Nurturing the concept of team and family, that’s what we’ve got to keep doing,” said Swinney.
On the last loss at Maryland.
“We were favored and should have won the game in 2009 up in Maryland, they tried to give us the game three or four times and we didn’t take it. We made a lot of mistakes in that game, but we were still a team trying to figure it out. I don’t think it was a lack of focus, we really didn’t know what we were. We have to play well to have a chance to win, and we didn’t play well. We prepared well, but we missed a few opportunities and it snowballed,” said Swinney.
How you keep focus on the road.
“When you go on the road in this league, anyone can beat you. We’re 6-0 now and we’ve won some big games, now people are talking about us, and we want people to raise to expectations of Clemson outside of Clemson. In order to be in the elite of College Football you’ve got to consistently perform well. Take pride in your performance, if you can do that and you have talent you’ve got a chance to get your program where you want it,” said Swinney.
On difference this year.
“We are who we are, we’ve answered a lot of questions, there were a bunch of questions coming into this season and I’m very confident in how our team will respond, good or bad. I saw it last year in this team; I know this team very well”
“What you’re seeing this year is a result of two years of work, not 6 weeks. Its months of work, that’s why you have to enjoy every win, our team is a reflection of our staff, the culture, everything we’ve tried to work on through the past two years. “
On who will handle kickoffs this week at Maryland.
“Starting Dawson as kick off guy this week, for him to be able to do it, he’ll take pride in it. I think Dawson has a chance to play football after Clemson, I’m anxious to see him improve,” said Swinney.
On Watkins early commitment to the Tigers.
“Knew Sammy Watkins was different, didn’t get caught up in the recruiting or the hype surrounding him, and didn’t like to talk to people on the phone. When he committed early, I wasn’t surprised at all. He wanted to focus on having a great senior season. What I didn’t k now about him was how mature from a learning standpoint he would be, he just gets it. He’s not overwhelmed. From the day he got here, it looks like we signed a free agent who’s been playing college ball for a few years. Give him the installation, he’s got it. He makes a mistake, he corrects it. He doesn’t talk. He didn’t grade well against Virginia Tech, his worst game without the ball, but then he came back and graded at 93% this week, yeah he had 7 catches but he was in the game for a lot more than 7 plays,” said Swinney.
On if he will call plays differently this week after Tajh’s injury.
“Won’t gasp when Tajh runs the ball this week, we’ve got to do what we do, and part of what we do is Tajh running the football,” said Swinney.