Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his Sunday teleconference to review the win over Florida State. A transcript of some of the teleconference follows:
“We are obviously really proud of our team for a great, great win yesterday. Really it was just a tremendous effort on our team’s part. I thought we played with great focus and great discipline and great passion. It was just a lot of fun. A game I’ll never forget for sure. Kind of a historic game for the seniors and just our program to be able to do something for the first time. That is always neat when you have an opportunity to achieve things that haven’t been done. That was a pretty special locker room to be in but I am really proud of our team. Again all 72 guys got the opportunity to be a part of it.
Offensively I thought we got the running game going in the second half. ET got going for a little stretch and ended up with a pretty efficient day. He came out early. But he missed a few runs. He has just got to be a little more disciplined with his tracks. But a lot of big plays. I thought Trevor was outstanding. We only had six negative yards in the game. We had no sacks. Just a lot of big plays from a lot of different guys. I thought Chase came in and really pled well again. I am just really pleased with his development, his confidence. I think we are doing a good job from a ball security standpoint. It has been a big deal for us these last three games. We were really good in the redzone yesterday.
Gage Cervenka was outstanding. He was really just a huge bright spot for us. He hadn’t started at center. Now he is in there and getting his first start. I was just really pleased with the job that he did, leading in there and communicating. We did a lot of good things in the offensive line. I thought Jackson Carman took a step forward for us. Our receivers, I think we had 151 yards after the catch. That is the best we have had.
Still there are some things that we need to improve upon. Some of the run game exchange. Our quarterback got his a few too many times. More than we would like. We had a couple of careless penalties. Again our backs just being disciplined with their tracks and trying to do too much. We dropped a couple of balls. Overall a great day.
The same thing defensively. -21 yards rushing. I think that is probably a record for us. Five sacks and 14 tackles for loss. A couple of turnovers. We continue to do a good job on third down. But we did have a couple of busts and out backups went in and gave up ten points. So we have some coaching to do with that group. We dropped an interception. We had a PI. We gave up the big play touchdown. So we have a lot of things that we can coach.
But I thought our special teams really, really made a huge impact in the game. We were very concerned about this punt returner. He had -3 return yards. We created a turnover on punt team. TJ Chase coming down there and recoving that fumble. Our kickoff coverage, another big play on kickoff return. Some big plays on punt return. BT getting his first field goal. It was good to see Greg get back in there and kick an extra point after he got hurt. So a lot of good things but we should have had a ball down inside the five and we didn’t play the sky punt properly. And then we had one shank punt where we just about missed the ball.
I am really proud of our staff and our team and the leadership of our team. So we are excited about moving forward and getting ready for this November. We will get back here and home and take on this Louisville team that we have had a lot of tough battles with.
The health of our team we are in a good spot. Matt Bockhorst is a guy that got banged up with a little sore ankle. Kyle Cote was another guy that got banged up. Outside of that we are in a pretty good spot right now.
Hopefully we will get Falcinelli back at the first of the week.
Question: Trevor obviously came in with a lot of hype and expectations. Have you seen him live up to that so far and how has he matched what you expected so far?
Swinney: Well he has just come in and gone to work. He has just gone to work every day. If you go back to January he came in and got in line and he has earned everything he has gotten. He has put the work in mentally and physically. And then you get to the season and he has gone and had the performance to match the work. He has done a great job. He is a special player obviously. He is very humble. He just goes about his business in a very humble way. He is a great teammate. He is a great winner. He has done a good job making good decisions and taking care of the ball. He has a very, very good understanding of our system but also what is happening on the defensive side. He is a playmaker so I am really proud of him.
I thought he avoided some sacks yesterday. He threw a few balls away. Those are good plays. So I just think he has made a lot of progress. He is definitely on the right track.
Question: As far as what you were expecting has he surprassed or is he about what you were expecting?
Swinney: Well I was expecting him to get here and be a highly talented young player. I don’t really have much expectations for these guys until I see them on the practice fields. That is one of the worst things you can do is put a lot of expectations on a guy. You don’t know where they are mentally. You don’t know how they are going to process things. It’s not like we have been around them on a daily basis. How are they going to handle adversity. What is their maturity level. You can messure some of that but until you get them in this environment where they are away from home the first time with all new people. So there is just a lot that goes into the transition.
So I don’t put a lot of expectations on these freshmen coming in. I have hope and I have great knowledge of what I think they can do based on the talent they have and where I think they are physically. But you never know until you start coaching them. Sometimes in the past I have done that where you say this guy but then he comes in and he’s just not where mentally he needs to be. And then I’ve had guys the other way. I’ve said there is no way this guy will help us this year and then he comes in and shocks you. So I just learned a long time ago. I just focus on the guys that are here. And then when new guys come you assess them at that time.
Question: How have you seen Trevor earn his teammates respect as a true freshman?
Swinney: He has just gone to work. He is a guy that came in here with zero expectations. He said I’m going to come in here and control what I can control and do the very best that I can. I think his teammates…again when these guys comes in all these veteran guys they watch everything they can from them. He is a very quiet guy. He has just great respect for the veterans. How do these guys work? How do they practice? How do they handle adversity? He has just stayed poised and focused. But at the end of the day we always say game knows game. I think they all quickly realized that this guy can play. Then you throw in the fact that he is an easy guy to like because of how he handles himself. He is just a very unassuming guy. He is a very humble leader. He just doesn’t expect anything more than anyone else. He lead by example. He’s a worker. I think he earned the respect of everyone just by being who he has always been.
Question: Do you feel this team is peaking at the right time?
Swinney: Well for us we are kind of getting into what we call our championship phase of our journey. We started back in January with our get ready and then transformation and now we have finished prime time.
So I think that we are in a good place. I think we are improving. I think we have a good feel for who we are and who can do what. We have developed a lot of depth. There is a great chemistry on this team. We have a lot of leadership and character. And then the performance that you see. They have just really bought into taking pride in whatever it is that they are doing. Three phases trying to create energy for each other. And just playing well. Not worrying about how many plays you play. It is a very selfless team and again I think from game 1 to where we are right now we have definetly gotten better. We have not regressed anywhere. We have improved in all areas. If we can continue to be hungry to improve and show up each day eager to improve and realize that we are always a work in progress. Never be satisfied. Then I think we have a chance to hopefully have a really good finish.
Question: Would you say this is your most complete team you’ve had in all three phases?
Swinney: Yeah, definitely. I said that coming in. This is definitely the most complete team on paper.