Dabo's Corner

Dabo's Corner

Football

Dabo's Corner

By

By Heath Bradley.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly press conference Tuesday to preview the rivalry game against South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

Opening Statement: 

“We’re going to have to play an outstanding game against this group. They’ve won a lot of ways this year, really for the last couple of years. They’re really big up front. It all starts with their center. Their quarterback, obviously, was probably the difference in the game last year. The thing that worries you about him is when he scrambles, guys are coming out of coverage and he makes a lot of plays. They’ve got three wideouts that have gotten better and better and better. I think Ace Sanders is electric. He’s been a difference maker for them. What they do best is run with it, so we’ve got to do a good job of tackling those guys. I’ll tell you, the guys you just keep seeing when you watch them are the tight ends. He has been a force for them offensively at some critical times this season. You’d better know where he is in coverage. It’s a very good group offensively. Defensively, they’re as good as anybody we’ve played, as good as anybody we’re going to play, as good as anybody is going to play. One, he’s a dynamic player, but two, those other guys are good players. It’s not like you can ignore them. Devin Taylor is like seven feet tall. It seems like he grows an inch every year. They want to be a one-safety team. When you go against a one-safety team, you have to make plays. They’re very solid on special teams. Obviously, their return game has been very good, especially their punt return. Again, I think we’re a team that’s been improving and we’re going to have to put it all together this week and play our best game. I’m excited to get out there Saturday night and hopefully play our best game, put our best foot forward. I think it’s a great thing for our state. We’re just trying to have a good practice today and continue our normal process of preparation.”

On Improvement From 2011:

“We’re a better team than we were last year. I don’t think there’s any question about that. We’re a smarter team. When you have a quarterback that’s in year two of his development We’ve got an outstanding running back, two or three running backs that have made plays. When you lose a great player, you want somebody else to step up and add production. He wasn’t a great quarterback. He’s a much better quarterback.”

On Fans Who Will Be Disappointed with a 10-2 Regular Season: 

“I think that’s a sad way to think about things. I think people that say that have no appreciation for winning or how hard it is to win. It’s just that simple. It’s hard to win ten ball games. People who say those things just don’t understand winning. It’s not only the biggest game of the year, it’s the most special. You have to live with it all year. But to say that if we lost all of those games and we were 0-11, and we win this game, then we had a great year? I doubt it. All I want to do is play our best game on Saturday night.”

On If Swinney Has Improved as a Coach Over Time:

“Can’t you tell? I’m 43 today, Ron. I was 38 when I got thrust into this grease pit. I mean, absolutely. Heck yeah, I’ve matured. I’m sure you’re like 39 or 49 or something. Are you a better reporter now than you were ten years or so ago? I was a better player as a senior than a freshman. I was a better student my senior year of college than my freshman year of college. I’m a better Christian now than I was when I first decided that was the path I wanted to go. I think as you mature, you get better at everything. I’m a much better, much more mature coach just because of experience. I’ve studied, I’m always trying to improve, I’m never satisfied. We’re always challenging ourselves to get better. I’m 43 years old today, and I’m a wiser man than I was four years ago, that’s for sure.”

On What He Has Improved At:

“Just overall, really understanding. A lot of my core things are the same as they were when I was an assistant. Just the overall picture of managing a program, managing people…it’s on and on and on. It’s certainly been a process.”

On Back and Forth With Spurrier: 

“This is not about me and Coach Spurrier. It’s really not. Some people may want to make it that way, but I just don’t think about it like that. Coach Spurrier is an interesting guy. I don’t think it’s personal. It’s not like he’s just now—he’s kind of got a long track record.”

“Well, I mean, if things cross the line, then absolutely. I’ll always defend myself. He took a shot at Death Valley, and I thought it was a pretty good comeback. I thought it was pretty funny. Again, I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Spurrier, and I should. My focus is 100% on this program, the people in this program, and just trying to…”

On Spurrier Being 1 Win Away From South Carolina All-Time Win Record: 

“I didn’t know that. That’s a little bit more pressure on there, right? Again, it’s not about me and it’s not about Coach Spurrier. All I can tell you is that it’s important. That’s our focus. It’s as simple as that.”

On Aggressiveness of South Carolina Defense:

“They tend to be more aggressive because they can. They’ve got guys that can do it. We’ve had a few people try to be aggressive that shouldn’t have been. This is a team that defensively has been pretty doggone special the past few years. You have to win those competitive matchups.”

On Importance of Saturday to Clemson’s Senior Class: 

“It’s important to them, of course. This senior group has accomplished a lot of things. The one thing they haven’t done is beat South Carolina. The list of things they haven’t done is very short.”

On Vic Beasley: 

“That’s part of the beauty of being the head coach. When you’re an assistant or a coordinator, you’re so tunnel-visioned. Vic was a frustrating guy to the staff because he wasn’t fully committed. When he came here, he was just an athlete. He was a running back. He was struggling. There was a lot to learn, and this and that. The one thing that was quickly recognizable was that this guy could really get off the edge. I don’t think he was fully committed. He’s a great kid. I don’t have any problems with him. We really needed him to step up because coming into the season, there was a major concern at that position without any real depth or experience. I can just be Vic Beasley. I’ve got my own skill set. I think he’s really bought into that. He’s having fun. He’s become much more engaged because he’s a smart kid. His upside is tremendous. He’s, pound-for-pound, as strong as anybody on our team. I don’t think he really worked to put that kind of weight on. He needs to be at 240 or 245, and he’ll play at 260 or 265. For a young player that’s learning a new craft and really starting to settle on a role on this football team and how he can impact games… I think he’ll be a much bigger factor. Right now, he’s not bad in the running game. But if he bulks up just a little bit, I think he’ll be much more of a factor on normal downs. The future’s bright for him.”

On Improvement of Blanks and Linebackers: 

“There’s a little difference in the system, first of all. They’re more experienced. Blanks, we just taught one role. Now, in the last few weeks, we’ve been cross-training him and he’s played some safety. I think that has helped us to play, especially with the youth up front that we’ve got. We’re much better overall as a front seven, for sure, than when we came into the year.”

On Maryland: 

“I don’t really have a lot of comment on it. It caught me off-guard. Who knows anymore in college football? For me, I just keep my head down. I’m trying to get a first down against South Carolina. If we can get two, that would be great. Again, I don’t get too caught up in it because I’m just trying to do my job and make this program the best that it can be.”

On Tajh Boyd Not Receiving National Recognition:

“Yeah. I don’t know what’s wrong with all of y’all. I don’t know of a quarterback playing better in the country than Tajh Boyd. I know I’m biased and I don’t study every player. He’s got 41 touchdowns. It’s incredible how he has played. It’s incredible the leadership he displayed. I wouldn’t trade my guy for any of them. Maybe they’ll figure it out one of these days, but this guy is a special player. He’s a winner. He’s made some throws. We’ve just come to get used to it down here. He makes it look easy. He’s a special player, he really is. He’ll get his time. Sooner or later, people will start paying attention.”

“I don’t know because he’s done some things all year that are mind-boggling to me and he’s still overlooked a little bit. He doesn’t care. The more he wins, the more people are going to take notice. He played great down there in Tallahassee. He did some great things. But I know this: We like him around here in Clemson.”

On Recruiting in the Palmetto State: 

“There are better opportunities at the in-state programs. South Carolina has done an excellent job. Clemson has done an excellent job. I don’t think that’s bad at all.”

“That’s for other people to say, but I know we work hard at it. We work hard at recruiting. We work hard at that. The type of people you have on your staff is huge. Jeff Scott has been tremendous as our recruiting coordinator. I think the main thing is that Clemson has become a great place to go. You can do everything here at Clemson. There’s nothing you can’t do here. What a place to go to school! It’s an incredible environment. They’ve created opportunities for young people. I think that’s what they see. They’re very different. Sometimes there are guys that are just more drawn to South Carolina. Clowney’s a perfect example. Marcus Lattimore is a perfect example. Everybody’s got to make their own decisions.”

On Clemson and FSU’s Lack of Recognition as 1-Loss Teams: 

“I think that’s ridiculous. I think that, and I couldn’t have said this at the beginning of the year, we can play with anybody. I’d love to play Notre Dame. Lord have mercy, I’d love to play Notre Dame. It’s not like we’ve been barely beating people. This team has improved. This team has improved. At this point, they’re as good as anybody out there. I’m proud of our team. I don’t think teams with two losses should be in front of Clemson and Florida State. You don’t control that. That stuff is year to year. But I know if we finish strong and Florida State finishes strong, we’ll be fine. If we continue to put consistency together as a program… We haven’t really been at that party very much. I get it. We’ve got to earn it. I think I voted us fifth or sixth this week. I think that’s about where we should be.”

“Yeah, but I think when you’ve got ten teams that are kind of all the same, that becomes a factor. Heck, Alabama’s got one loss, and those suckers won the national championship last year. We haven’t really been in that group. If you want to be one of those elite programs, you have to consistently perform at that level. Then all of a sudden, you’re one of those teams everybody is thinking about. We’ve got to give Notre Dame credit. They’re the last one standing right now. They’ve separated from the pack. That’s just the way it is. I voted them number one because I don’t know if they’re the number-one team in the country, but they’ve earned it.”

On Jonathan Meeks: 

“Meeks has had a good year. Meeks has had a heck of a year. He’s a lot of fun to coach, a lot of fun to be around every day. He was my first recruit, Meeks was. That’s pretty neat. We’ll always have that bond.”

On Dalton Freeman: 

“I’ve said many times, he’s like the tenth coach on my staff. He’s just off the charts. He’s a great player. Oh my gosh, what a great player! It’s hard to replace a guy like that. They’re just great people. He has been a cornerstone of our program as we’ve built it the last four years. Now, four years later, he’s leaving here and won more conference games than any senior class in history. It’s so good to see a guy like that be able to go out in a strong manner. He’s been a rock for us.”

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