Swinney's Sunday Teleconference

Staff reports, Tigerillustrated.com
Tiger Illustrated

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CLEMSON -- Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney addressed members of the media Sunday as part of his weekly teleconference, this time to look back on his team's 31-17 win over Virginia Tech.

Clemson (5-0) will host Wake Forest (4-1) on Saturday in Death Valley. The Tigers opened as a 21-point favorite Sunday.

The following is an edited transcript of Swinney's Sunday teleconference.

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Opening statements: "Quick turnaround for us today, getting home late. Cannot say enough about our team. They were ready to play in that environment. It was a great team win. It was contributions from all three phases. Virginia Tech is a heck of a team. For us to come away with a big win is just how we wanted to end this month.

"Defensively I thought it was our best game. That's good because I thought our worst game was at Louisville. We stopped the run, created turnovers and continued to play good in the red zone and on third down. It was a clean game, but still a lot to coach from on tape. All in all just really a relentless effort. I'm so proud of those guys.

"Offensively it was a fast start, which is what we wanted. I think we had 10 points before they had a first down in the game, so we needed that. We were hopeful that we could take care of the ball and win the turnover margin. That was critical. It was good to see us convert the fourth and one on the goal line, but we did miss some opportunities. We were only 12 of 21 passing but it should have been 17 of 21. We had some drops and some missed throws. We missed some touchdown opportunities as well. We probably should have been eight or nine of 16 on third down. We had three sacks, one on the O-line. I do think we did some good things, but again there were some missed opportunities.

"All in all a solid night for us. Special teams, kickoff coverage continues to do a good job for us. Spence got a field goal. We contained a fake field goal as well. The one punt, Will just didn't hit it. It was a line drive.

"It was a convincing win and every phase made big contributions. Injury-wise, Justin Foster won't be able to practice tomorrow. Everyone else is good to go.

"This week we've got a talented Wake Forest team coming in, so that's another big challenge for us."

Q: Players of the game? And also, what was the extent of Justin Foster's injury?

Swinney: "Just kind of in his ankle.

"I won't release the players of the game anymore (on Sundays). It's become anti-climactic in our team meetings on Monday. I want our guys in the team meeting to be the first to know."

--- Tim Bourret: "I'll release them, but it'll be after the players know in their meetings."

Q: What do you like best about your team right now?

Swinney: "We're 5-0. That's what I like. We're a long way from perfect. I like the fact that they have fun playing. They put the work in, they're supportive of each other. Bottom line is they have found a way to win. We've played some challenging teams. We still have a lot of improving to do. I just like the mindset of our team."

Q: What do you see from Wake's QB that concerns you?

Swinney: "I'm just now getting started. I'm looking at their defense right now. I've seen them play a couple of times. He's a winner. He's got a lot of heart and puts everything he has into helping his team win. He's also their leading rusher, I believe. He's well-coached, they've got a good scheme and he just makes plays."

Q: Just an off night for Spiers?

Swinney: "I think he had two 50-yarders. I think he just missed that one. That one hurt for sure. We were sky-punting on one and there was some wind up there. It just happens."

Q: Was their crowd ever a factor?

Swinney: "I don't think so. It was a great atmosphere. I thought they did an awesome job in having a good stage for college football, but for us we were ready, locked in and got a 3-and-0ut right out of the gate. I think we had 10 points before they got a first down. We just never let them get an opportunity to sustain energy in the crowd."

Q: Is Shaq Smith healthy and if so why isn't he on the field more?

Swinney: "Yeah, he's healthy. He's starting on special teams for us. Sometimes people make too big a deal if a guy isn't starting (from scrimmage). Kendall Joseph, Dorian O'Daniel, J.D. Davis, Tre Lamar ... they're just ahead of him right now. Same thing that kept Dorian off the field as a red-shirt freshman. He's just a young player who has some guys in front of him. Eventually he'll be a great player for us."

Q: The fact that Wake came so close to beating Florida State, is that perhaps something extra that can help you get your players' attention this week?

Swinney: "I hope not. I hope I don't have to get into all that. It's just the next game. You get 12 opportunities. It's a long season, a grind. For us it's continuing to do what it takes. This team knows what it takes and has to be willing to prepare the right way. There are no easy weekends, none. We don't spend much time with all that storyline stuff. We know we have a tough matchup on our hands. We'll need a great crowd this weekend. We need our students to be there, our fans there and not take winning for granted. Let's have a great atmosphere, the one we have every single week. Our players, we're going to ask them to show up. We need to have the best atmosphere we've had all year."

Q: Do you have an update on Trayvon Mullen?

Swinney: "He's good. He's ready to go and was available but we were going to try to limit him and not play him unless we had to. But yes, he was available and ready."

Q: If Justin is unable to go, who needs to step up there at end for you?

Swinney: "Whomever the fifth or sixth guy will be. He's a depth guy right now for us. Xavier Kelly played 15 plays. Register has had two good games in a row. I think he had 22 snaps. He's been consistent. Clelin Ferrell, Austin, Register and Kelly ... that's how we'll roll if we need to. And Christian can step out there if we need him to."

Q: You've talked about the grind of a year. You've now had two very long seasons before this one. This one could be another long year for you. How much do you address that with your team?

Swinney: "I haven't addressed that at all. I don't understand that mindset. You want to do things again, you want to accomplish things again and get back to work, to get back to the championship and compete at the highest level. You just start over every year, it's a new team, new players and you have a lot of guys who want to play winning football. We just want to keep moving forward. September won't win us anything. We get 12 Saturdays and we want to maximize each and every opportunity and stay committed to the core values we have in place here."

Q: How do you feel about this team ... its potential, where it could go? Do you feel you've got another national championship-type of team?

Swinney: "Ah man I've had several teams that I felt were good enough. We had a couple of teams prior to the last two years that I felt were capable. A lot goes into it. Maybe there was an injury there, maybe two. I like the mindset of this team, I love the leadership we have, our depth and they're having fun. There is opportunity out there for them. As the old saying goes, success is not final and failure is not fatal. It's the courage that counts. We've had success, that's great. Thank goodness we didn't let failure against Pittsburgh stop us last year. You get back late at night, it's 5 a.m. and now you have a quick turnaround and an early game this coming week. You have to stay the course, man, and take care of yourself. We want to get ourselves ready every week. That's so important."

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