Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his Sunday teleconference to review the win over NC State and peak ahead to next Saturday’s game at Florida State.
A transcript of some of the teleconference follows:
“It was a fun tape to grade, a fun game to watch live and again on tape. I am really pleased with our guys. Two game in a row that we really have played a complete football game. Lots of good things in the game.
But still a ton of room for improvement. Our best football is still in front of us.
That was a good team in NC State that our guys really came to play and prepared very well.
Defensively we tackled well. Our effort was tremendous. I thought our d-line dominated up front. They couldn’t run the ball effectively but the biggest thing coming into that game they were seventh in the nation in passing and No. 1 in the ACC throwing for about 380 a game and we held them to 193. Three turnovers, ten tackles for loss, 1 sack, we pressured the QB and they were 2-12 on third down and they were leading the nation in third down coming into the game. So just an awesome job a combination of the guys up front and the guys on the back end. We had a bunch of pass breakups and one of the keys to the game coming into it was how we would match up on some of the competitive plays. We really did a nice job of that. I was really pleased with what I saw defensively.
There are plenty of things to improve on, technique, alignments, some of our man technique and off coverage technique, pre snap communication. A lot of things that we can still work on there.
Over on the offensive side I think the biggest thing is our offense is demonstrating and growing in our confidence that we can win different ways. We rushed for like 471 yards against Wake and then you come back and we throw for 380 the next game so that is very encouraging. I thought our protection was very good. We had one sack on our running back on Travis. We had one more that was really more on the quarterback. I thought our offensive line really did a much better job with some of the twists and things. The protection was very good.
It was a game where the ball went in the air a lot. Our production on third down 8-15 was a big part of the game. We had no offensive turnovers. We played a lot of people. A lot of people got a chance to touch the ball. So it was great.
We still need to be able to run the ball with a little more production than we had. We had a little bit more there. We are getting a little too happy bouncing. We need to use a little bit more discipline there and keep some things front side. We had a couple of costly penalties and we missed a couple of big throws early where we didn’t give our guys a chance to make a play. We had the most drops we have had all year. We had six drops. We had two at running back. I know Diondre had a couple. Carter Groomes had one. So there is still more out there. Overall a very complete game. I am just proud of how they competed.
On special teams I am really proud of our kickoff return. That set the tempo for the game. Our kickoff coverage continues to do a great job. They got zero return yards on kick return and punt return. I thought Amari did a really nice job of fielding the ball. Shaq and Coty and Nolan Turner did a great job on the fake. Greg it was good for him to hit a couple of field goals. We didn’t have quite the execution with Fitz and Will on our fake because it was there. It was well executed everywhere else.
We did a lot of great things in the game and again just great energy throughout the game.
Healthwise we came through it in pretty good shape.
Question: With the apartment that collapsed in Clemson last night are all of your guys okay?
Swinney: Yes they are. What a horrible thing to see. I did not know about it until late, late last night. We did have one player, a kid named Sylvester Mayers, a walk-on running back for us. He is the only player that we had there. He is okay. I am thankful for that. My thoughts and prayers to all of those that were a part of that. I don’t really have any more details than that but that is the only person we had involved.
Question: Where are the specific areas where you need to see improvement out of this team moving forward?
Swinney: Oh man, in all three phases. There is a lot to still coach. That is the exciting thing for me. We are doing a lot of good things but there is still a lot of room for improvement. I think our team is wanting to continue to improve. I think they have the right mindset. Defensively they got outside of us a couple of times. We need better discipline with our gaps, out technique with our front seven. Some coverage things whether we are playing press coverage, off coverage. leverage. As I said earlier presnap communications. We got beat on the one double move. Thankfully the kid dropped the ball but we got beat.
A lot of things in the special teams area. I thought we did some good things but we still can hold up better in some spots.
Offensively as good as we’ve played I would still like to see some better consistency from a few players throughout the course of the game and not have some of the lulls. We need to impove on some of the penalties. We had some careless penalties in critical situations like offsides down there on the goal line. We did give up two sacks. Our running backs they have to be better without the ball.
Question: KJ Henry did not play yesterday. Did you hold him out because of the possibility of a redshirt?
Swinney: “We played him in the four games already. He played well up there at Wake. He is ready to play if we need him. It is something he really wants to do as well. He really wants to redshirt if he can. We wanted to have him ready in case we need him. We are going to hold tight on KJ right now. He is excited about that. We will see how that works out.”
Question: Where have you seen the most improvement in the secondary since the Texas A&M game?
Swinney: “The biggest area right now is probably at safety. Nolan Turner was one of the best players on the field yesterday. He impacted the game on special teams. He had some critical tackles. He is very knowledgable with what he is doing. I am very proud of him. He graded 98 percent.
If you go back to that one on one tackle he made last year against Lamar Jackson we knew he was going to be something special. He and Denzel really. We needed those two to make improvement and they have really improved from last year.”