On Tuesday, head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly press conference to discuss the upcoming challenges of playing Wake Forest on the road. It was the first time the Clemson coach has had to hold a regular-season press conference following a loss since 2014.
Here is what we heard:
Swinney is thankful his team does not have to wait a long time to attempt to avenge their loss.
“I’m very disappointed in the loss, but we are excited to play again this week. Last time we lost we had to wait nine months, but we get to play in about four days. We’re excited about the opportunity to play again and play better and get toward what we want to accomplish,” Swinney said.
However, Swinney said Wake Forest (6-4, 3-3 ACC) has improved a lot and has been very competitive in its matchups this season.
“Offensively, much improved from where they were last year. Their quarterback is a very good player. He is their leading scorer and second leading rusher, but he’s not just a good runner, he’s a good scrambler,” Swinney said.
The best thing that the Demon Deacons do is take care of the football.
“They have created a lot of turnovers,” Swinney said. “They are plus-nine in the turnover margin.”
Swinney said his team understands the opportunity that exists this weekend to grow from the defeat, and added that the players had an extra edge to them in practice Monday evening.
“They were serious, dialed in, frustrated, mad, disappointed, about all the emotions you usually have when you want something and it doesn’t go your way,” Swinney said. “These guys care. They’ve worked really hard and they’re not used to losing, and I love that. We don’t lose a whole bunch, and we’re going to try to keep it that way.”
Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel said the defense is preparing to see more of the shovel pass that Pittsburgh had success with on the field last Saturday.
“We were prepared all week. We had a great week of preparation, I guess it’s just the way they were getting aligned to it we haven’t seen as much. It killed us. We had a great week of preparation and played that play every day in practice, they just lined up to it,” O’Daniel said. “Teams study opponent’s weaknesses, not their strengths, and that was definitely a weakness in that game. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it again.”
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he did not need to even watch the film from Saturday’s loss to determine what went wrong on the field. He added he expects Wake Forest to implement the shovel pass in their offensive scheme against the Tigers.
“They had thirteen shovels for 75 yards,” Venables said. “The tight ends were the target for all of them but one. I’m sure they’ll (Wake Forest) put the shovel in. I would.”
Against Pittsburgh, Clemson also had nine penalties called on them for over 100 yards. O’Daniel said penalties are an aspect of the game that are not entirely under their control. However, he added that it drives the defense to focus in on their technique.
“You can’t control everything, but you can control your mindset and your effort and your technique of how you’re going to play the next down. So, that’s what I think the defense’s mindset was after they got first downs because of penalties.”