"This is going to be a great week. Our team is excited, our coaches are excited, it's going to be a great challenge for us. Obviously Clemson is a very good football team dating back to last year. Their starting quarterback (Kyle Parker) is returning, which is big for them. He's got a whole host of other really good players around him.
"Defensively, they're very physical, as has been the nature of Clemson over the years. It's just going to be a great time for us. Our fans are extremely excited and our players are very fired up to get the week rolling. It's going to be a great challenge for us and it's going to be a great measuring stick, in my opinion, for where we are moving forward, and getting ready for more conference play. It's an exciting time for us and an exciting time for our fans and we're looking forward to getting ready for Saturday."
On Kyle Parker
"He's very poised. He's got all of the things that you look for in a pro quarterback just in terms of how he manages the team and manages the offense. He makes some really great throws and puts the ball right where it needs to be. He has a great touch on the ball. That's part of being a great quarterback, (knowing) when to pull off some throws and when to zip it in there. He has a great touch on deep balls.
"He's just really poised and you can tell he's been doing it and he loves the game. He's very good at what he does, but more than anything he really manages the team well and manages the offense."
On having previously worked at Clemson as a graduate assistant
"It was just one of those unique times in your life where you got an opportunity. I was a high school coach and Danny Ford gave me an opportunity to be on that staff as a graduate assistant. It was just in the right place at right time. It was a great time in my life. I spent two years there and had a great two years there. It just got me propelled into the college football scene which was big for me at that time."
"Nothing new. We're going to get them out there today and let them run around and see how they work out. I don't think the status has changed. Again day-by-day we'll keep close tabs on how they're doing and what progress they're making."
On Michael Dyer and his transition from high school to college.
"Just watching him get used to carrying the football on in traffic, protecting the ball, just letting his natural ability take over, HE doesn't look uptight or nervous in any sort of way. He has just run really natural. We put him in the game when the game was on the line the other night in a huge game and we trusted him with the football in his hands and to get north to south with the ball and to get us first downs, and he did that. He's assumed his role really well up to this point and that has been impressive to me."
On Dyer's role expanding.
"I think circumstances in the game will dictate that, but we certainly feel confident enough for that to happen. That's the thing that's been great--he's been very humble. He wants to run the football, that's what running backs want to do, but up to this point he has also understood his role. He's ready for his role to expand, there's no question about it. As coaches we believe in him and trust in him that if that's what his role becomes this week then he can handle it."
On Clemson's skill players.
"You can see over the years they've really done a great job recruiting, and certainly at the skill positions. You look at wide receiver, they've got some young guys there and some very talented guys. They've got a very talented tight end that can catch the football. He can run-block and catch the ball and do those types of things. Running back-wise they've got some guys returning that have played a lot of football.
"Obviously they lost a couple of very highly-recruited guys in the NFL draft, but they've got a lot of great athletes left on the team. You can go to the defensive side of the ball and look at their secondary. DeAndre McDaniel is a great athlete, a great player. They've got some really good solid corners that are very athletic, good-sized kids. They've done a good job of recruiting skill, there's no doubt about that."
On Clemson being similar to an SEC school.
"Being able to speak first-hand since I've been there, it's very close to the SEC in so many ways. This is a team that has a lot of similarities to those schools that are in our league. Both off the field and the venue, where they play and their fan base and things of that nature are very similar to many schools in this league."
On Clemson not having played as difficult of competition at this point in the season.
"We're anticipating them showing a lot more. I think that's just what comes with that. At the end of the day, they still come down to the base things that they do. They might hide it a little bit more in terms of we may see two or three new wrinkles on how they get to different things. But at the end of the day, the nuts and bolts of what they do are going to be in place. In how they get to that, I'm sure there will be some plays that will be creative that they haven't shown yet, but that's what we're preparing for this week."
On this game meaning a lot for the program and also for recruiting.
"I think it's great. Number one, (ESPN's College) GameDay is going to be here, which is huge. It's great for our fans and we encourage all of our fans to just come out and be who they are. We've got great fans and it should be exciting for them. It should be exciting for our team, our students. It's big.
"It's a great venue and we want everybody to come out and be excited about it and come early and come to the GameDay set and do all of those things because everybody doesn't get this opportunity. We want to take advantage of it with our great fans and our great students. For our football team and recruiting and things of that nature, obviously that's very big for us. It's a big stage and it's going to give us a chance to produce on a stage. That's what you play for. This is why you want to do it. It'll be exciting for our whole team."
On not asking quarterback Cameron Newton to do too much too early in the season.
"That's the last thing you want to do is put too much on him. There's a fine line on him being creative and trying to take any of that away from him. We certainly don't want to do that because he is going to be able to make things happen out of potentially negative plays. That's who he is as a quarterback. Certainly we want to be smart in how much he gets the ball and things of that nature because it's a long season. It's an on-going discussion and rightly so. He has to be him and he has to do what comes naturally to him as long as he protects the ball and it doesn't put our offense in any kind of jeopardy. That's what we look at."
On Newton's confidence after getting a conference win on the road early in the season.
"I think it's big. It's big for him, but it's big for our whole team. As the starting quarterback, to go on the road and win a tough road game and really play and manage the game well. At the end when we had to get first downs and eat some clock, we had to do the things that we had to do to win. That was big for him in terms of confidence, but for our whole team in general, as well."
On Brandon Mosley's performance last week.
"The circumstances being what they were, I thought he came in and helped our football team win. He's like every player, you'd like to see him play much better. He didn't flinch and that's what I really love about the kid is that he didn't flinch. He came in there, he had a job to do, and he ended up playing a lot of football that night and we won the game. At the end of the day, that's really what you look at. For him, it was big to be able to get in the game and help our team win.
"I'm very proud of him, but we know if he gets in that situation again right now he's going to have to play much better to help us win."
On having more practice time this week before playing Clemson.
"All the practice you can get is important and any extra practice that you can have is big, but we're back in a regular, normal game week. The potential time that our guys have to watch film on their own, to do some things to prepare in advance obviously is big, but this is game week so we're back on schedule now. This will unfold just like any other game week."
On Newton's improvement in reading defenses since the last game.
"We've had a lot of meetings and we've had some practice, but I fully expect him to improve every game. I really do. As you go back and review the films, he gets a dose every week of ‘Maybe we improved on this, but this is where we've got to move forward,' and I just think he's going to get a dose of this every week. There's going to be something new every week that he can improve on. I feel like he's really done well and he's done what we've asked him to do with room for improvement. As for what he's gotten better on since Thursday night, I don't know that I can say that. I think he can get better on a lot of things."
On Newton improvising with the offense too much.
"I don't know that that's necessarily been the case yet or that we feel that way at all. We always talk to him about playing within the constraints of the offense of what we're trying to do. As long as something's not there and he's improvising and protecting the ball and not jeopardizing the offense and jeopardizing our chance of losing the ball, you've got to let him be who he is. Now obviously with throwing the football, his progression is one, two, three--if he's not doing that that's one thing, but when you're feeling pressure and you don't have time to do that progression that's another thing. You've got to do what you've got to do. He's been really good about that so far. It hasn't been an issue where we've had to say ‘Hey, look, you could do more of this or more of that.' I think everything falls within the offense for what we're trying to get him to do with his reads and things of that nature, but that really hasn't been the case."
On comparing Clemson's defense to other SEC defenses.
"It's good. Very talented, very physical defense, but a lot of similarities between their defense and the ones we're going to face in this league both talent-wise and very well-coached. This is going to be a great challenge for our offense. Offensively, without question, we've got to be a lot more productive than the last time we played. I think our coaches know that and we're going to have to be a much better all-around offensive football team on Saturday against a team that's extremely talented on defense. I think we've got our work cut out for us."
On Parker's poise in the pocket.
"That's the hard thing about poised quarterbacks, those guys don't get rattled and usually it comes with experience and age. Guys who have been there and done that, and Kyle's been to the ACC championship game, he's been there and done that. He's a very good baseball player so he's kind of been there and done that. The poise that comes with that position as you look at him just looks natural.
"It's hard to get guys disrupted and break rhythm when guys are that natural at what they do. It's just hard to get them out of rhythm. Obviously, with our defensive line and our pressure and different blitzes and things, we've got to be able to try and do that. If he sits back there and just pats the ball and has his choice, it'll be a long night."
On the late-game defensive effort in last week's win.
"Our defense is playing hard, but we're a work in progress. We're a long way from where we need to be, but they're trying really hard. We've seen some signs of improvement really in the front part of our defense. They've just got to keep playing hard and keep playing within the structure of the defense. That's what has to happen and we can't give up explosive plays. We're pleased with some of the outcome of our defense at this point, but we're not satisfied with where we are at all. We've got a bunch of improvement this week that has to happen."
On working with defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
"Ted's done a great job and he's the defensive coordinator and I very much trust all my coaches. Obviously, I'm very aware of what we're doing in every aspect of our team--offense, defense, and special teams--but Ted and I confer on different things, and I try to watch as much film as I can on all sides of the ball and be involved to the best of my ability where I'm helping. Reiterating the fact that I've got total trust in all my coaches that they've got to do their job, and he's done a good job."
Coach Dabo Swinney
On Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and taking over a team under difficult circumstances.
"He's done a great job. I don't think there's any question. He became the head coach, I don't know all the circumstances that were involved there, but I know that they went to the ACC Championship Game last year."