Sunday Evening Teleconference

Staff reports,
Tiger Illustrated

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CLEMSON -- Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney addressed members of the media Sunday evening as part of his weekly teleconference, this time to look back on his team's fulfilling 47-21 win over Louisville Saturday night in Papa John's Stadium.

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The Tigers, now No. 2 in this week's AP Poll, host Boston College on Saturday in a 3:30 pm kickoff. Clemson opened Sunday as a 32.5-point favorite over the Eagles.

The following is an edited transcript of Swinney's brief chat with members of the media:



Opening statements: "Just a chance to kind of review everything today. I'm really proud of our team and how they competed. I love the mental toughness that I saw. It was four quarters of football. We have three under our belt and another big opportunity this week. We have a lot of positives but believe it or not there is so much we can do better. You see that when you watch the tape, too. A lot of things we can teach from so that we can improve our team. There are a lot of areas where we can improve in.

"Defensively we played a great first three quarters outside of one bad drive. We had seven tacks and 11 tackles for loss. We played everybody that went defensively. I loved their effort but we did have a couple of busts in the fourth quarter. We have a lot of little things we need to correct. We had some mental errors and missed tackles. We went against one of the best offenses in the country. It was a very good defensive performance, but not perfect. Excellent job on the road.

"Offensively, just being able to run the ball is really what makes us go and it creates the explosive plays. I'm really pleased with what we did on third down. We were effective in the red zone and got our play count where it needs to be.

"Kelly Bryant, he's just growing up right before our eyes. We missed a few plays but he led our team very well. A lot of good things. We did have three sacks, two on the line and one on a back. We had a couple of critical penalties, too. To me right now the area where I'm so pleased is special teams, our punt team. Ray-Ray is doing a great job. Our kickoff coverage is great. It was good to see Greg Huegel hit a career long last night.

"Injury-wise we came out of it pretty good. Hopefully we'll get Marcus Edmond back here soon. Greenlee, it looks like a sprained MCL with him.

"Players of the game were RayRay, Jalen Williams, Will Spiers and Dorian O'Daniel.

Q: Talk about the early decision to go for it. You seemed to show a lot of confidence in your offensive line.

Swinney: "I knew from the get-go as soon as the ball was spotted. If we didn't make it, I was going to be disappointed but we'd still have them pinned deep. I felt like we could get it. I felt like we should be able to control the line of scrimmage and we did. It was a gut call at the time."

Q: Talk about how Dexter Lawrence affected the game, despite not putting up a lot of numbers.

Swinney: "He was disruptive. He definitely played his best game. He played really well. He had a sack, some quarterback pressures. They can't move him. He's just disruptive in there. He played by far his best game. And he's played well for us but he was outstanding last night."

Q: Your guys did a great job of containing Lamar Jackson last night. Looks like he couldn't find any rhythm at all.

Swinney: "Offensively we kept the ball away from him. Just great effort. Guys were ready to play and they played hard. We didn't give him a short field. We wanted them to execute all the way down the field. We won the turnover margin and that was important. Last year we ended up playing 105 snaps and we had five turnovers. This year we mixed up our coverages more and used more zone. Now, we missed some tackles, too. He's a great player."

Q: Talk about being successful on the road. You've had immense success as a road team.

Swinney: "I just think it's a mindset. I've never bought into you're not suppose to be playing well on the road. If you're a good player, you're a good player anywhere. If you're a good team, you're a good team anywhere. If that's not your mindset, you probably won't be a good road team. You have to have mental toughness to win on the road."

Q: You're seeing everything you had hoped for out of Kelly Bryant to this point?

Swinney: "Yeah. He's growing up, blossoming. I learn something about him every week. I'm very proud of him. He won every phase of the competition at quarterback. And each week he's got a test on game day and he's played like a champion and with a lot of confidence. He's playing smart."

Q: You've said you wanted to get the season underway so that you can see what you have. What do you think you have?

Swinney: "I think what I had early on was a hungry team. I said that to the local guys here a couple of times. We're such a new team and have so many new people. We do have enough leadership and experience to guide us, but we've got so many new guys where I was anxious to see how they would respond. Right now we are a close team. These guys like each other. They're hungry. They pull for each other and practice the right way. We have that type of depth that you dream of as a coach. We've got some guys paying attention to detail, taking pride in preparation. I like our team, I like the makeup of it. As far as anything that has surprised me? Not really. What I've seen in practice is what I'm seeing on game day."

Q: What do you know about Boston College so far?

Swinney: "Not a whole lot. We don't look ahead around here. I did see them a little bit on television against Notre Dame, just maybe 30 minutes worth. I'm very familiar with them. We see them every year. They're a tough, hard-nosed team every year. That's the personality of their coach. We've had to battle them many times. It's time to put another plan together. I'll know a lot more in the next 48 hours."

Q: Do you like what you saw from Sean Pollard and Tremayne Anchrum last night?

Swinney: "Yeah. We played better there. Pollard did have one sack on our quarterback. A guy came underneath on us after we overset. Anchrum came back and played a good game for us. They're just true sophomores. I think Anchrum graded 90-percent and Pollard was right at it himself. Both did a nice job."

Q: Are you surprised you're not ranked No. 1?

Swinney: "I couldn't care less. That stuff is so irrelevant. We're just trying to win this game this week. It's September. I don't know why they do polls in September. We have to demonstrate that we will stay focused and not get distracted. We have a huge schedule ahead of us. Y'all have heard me say many times we don't pay attention to that stuff. It matters in November and at the end of the year."

Q: Talk about Todd Bates after the departures of Marion Hobby and Dan Brooks.

Swinney: "We lost Dan Brooks after last season. He coached for a million years, then retired. Both he and Marion did a great job. Todd was a guy I'd had my eye on. He had worked our camp. Just proud of him. He's done a great job. Brent loves him. He brings great energy. Guys have a lot of respect for him. He's done a great job coming into this situation. He has earned players' respect. Heck of a job."

Q: What specifically are you looking for when you bring in a new assistant coach?

Swinney: "I hire people first. I'm looking for great people where I can lay my head down at night and know that they're going to represent me, the player and university. That's where it starts for me. He has to check all those boxes. You have to have a guy who can be able to teach as well. He has to fit, he has to fit the chemistry of the staff. He's got a great family. Recruiting is critical, too. Dan and Marion were both good recruiters. Todd has done awesome for us on the recruiting trail. He's a young guy and he has brought a good hunger to the staff."

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