Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney discusses Saturday's matchup with No. 16 Miami.

Opening Statement: Good to be back with you. It's been a good open date for us. I think our team is ready to get back at it Saturday and looking forward to it. It's homecoming. A lot people excited about that. Our former players are going to come back and lead the Tiger Walk. And we've gotten healthy. Especially coming off a tough physical game at Auburn. We should be in pretty good shape with the exception of David Smith, who's making pretty good progress.

Spencer Shuey is questionable but highly probably he'll get upgraded later this week. Other than that we are in pretty good shape which is good. Tough road ahead. We are getting ready to play nine straight games. 10 if we can make it to the championship game. We talk about running the race to win- and we are doing that. But we also talk about endurance. And we'll need that in the next 10 weeks.

It's ACC play. This is the opportunity for us to work to our next goal and that's to defend our Atlantic Division title and get back to the championship game. This is a huge game in regard. We've played three games and I like our personnel and the chemistry on this team.

It's early to have an open date but I like our team. What we have to do now is create some momentum. We have a tough task in Miami. Not really sure who selected them as the Homecoming opponent. That would have not been my choice.

Really talented football team with good personnel.

Offensively they are balanced. They run in 33. Pass it 32. They are very multiple. They like to get into a lot of unbalanced sets which creates some challenges for us on defense getting lined up and communicating properly. They've got very talented skill. Guys that can. Quarterback is a very good player. Excellent passer. Can throw the come back. Can throw the deep ball, the deep come back. They will throw the ball deep. Not talking about little bitty throws. They like their offense in chunks. We'll have to be disciplined. No. 85 and No. 47 are good wide outs. No. 3 can fly. They got good people there. They play a lot of people at running back. They've got a good mixture there. It's going to be a challenge. For us, we have to get after the quarterback. We can't make it a comfortable day for him.

When they max protect like they do, we have to do a great job with our 1-on-1 coverage. We'll have to do a better job on the double move stuff which we've struggled with.

For us, one of the things we've not done well, is we play really really well, then we give up the big play. We have to make the team go earn it. And then continue to do a good job with our turnovers.

Their defense as a whole, is the best we played. Auburn was good but because of what Miami has in the secondary I'd give them an edge. Miami is No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss. No. 2 in sacks. Fast. Athletic. Good front seven and fast in the secondary.

John Lovett- a guy I'm familiar with. It's his second year. They have a lot more to their package than what they did last year. They play a bunch of people. No. 35 is leading the league in sacks right now. No. 44 is one of the top tacklers in the league. He's smart and quarterbacks them on defense.

It's a big challenge for us. We'll have to execute at a high level. They are second in the nation in sacks and we aren't giving up many sacks. Something's got to give one way or another. For us, we have to make the plays that are there. There are plays there we are capable of making.

Looking forward to it. There's been a lot of talk about the time of the game. I've gotten emails or letters. My job is to get the team to play. If it's 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. Let's quit quackin' like a bunch of ducks and quit whining and complaining. It don't matter. Let's get up and get excited about playing football. Let's get up and let's go play some ball and enjoy the day. TV is TV and they control a lot of things but let's have great fan support. I think there will only be about 1,500 from Miami to come this way.

Let's get the Valley rocking. Let's make it a great experience. There will be a lot of people watching Clemson for the first time. Let's make them go put coming to Clemson on their bucket list. We had this place rocking to 125 decibels the last time Miami was here. Let's get it to 126. Fans have the huge opportunity to set the tempo. It's always great when this scoreboard lights up out there.

Let's play some Clemson football.

How is Kyle Parker?
Swinney: He's good. Looked good yesterday. The weekend off was really really good for him. 100 percent ready to go. We will probably put him more of a protective device on his pads. He looked good yesterday. He'll go full gear today and anxious to see how he does against a live pass rush.

Is there a secret to coaching during an off-week?
Swinney: You just have to evaluate yourself and be honest where you are. Be honest with the players. They see the film. For us, I'm more encouraged than discouraged with where we are right now. I think we've put together a good foundation in the last year plus here. A foundation in toughness and a belief in self and play. They've bought in. That's how they went to work this week. The leadership has been very good this week. They understand we had an opportunity to win a game we could have easily won. They realize that. It's about us. It's about Clemson. It's about our effort. It's about our attention to detail. Because we are good enough. At the end of the day we are a good enough football team to line up and compete and win games.

One thing I've told the team is, 'remember the Tigers.' The Auburn Tigers. That's what happens when we don't maintain the killer instinct. Those are things we control. It's about the players. It's not about the coaches. Our job is to make sure we give our players an opportunity to win. I think our guys have bought in. That's really what it's about. It's no secret. We are just trying to get better as a team and work on Clemson and hopefully to play well Saturday.

When will we see some separation with your wide receivers?
Swinney: We've only played three games. We've got it down to six guys. Maybe seven. All of those guys have made big plays in three ball games. Every one of them. The next two or three weeks, you'll see some separation with these guys. It's still early to say 'hey this is a guy.' We've played three games. We've continued to get better. We know we have some youth there. I think we have talent and I think you are going to see that.

If you could compare Miami's defense to Auburn - what would you say?
Swinney: Well Auburn was very good up front. So are these guys. Auburn had really good linebackers, so do they. The edge goes to Miami in the secondary. They are both very physical. Very aggressive. They played Pitt. They played Ohio State. I'd say they had some success. They are No. 8 in total defense in the country. Pretty big challenge for us.

Would you be disappointed if you can't establish the run?
Swinney: Well it's going to be a tough order for us. I'd be disappointed if we can't establish some kind of running game. I think we rushed for over 200 yards without sacks which was a huge key to the game and establishing how we want to play. But you can't be the village idiot either. We'll have to do what we do. If there are other opportunities that present themselves because of their style of play we'll take advantage of those.

The three games against Miami have all gone to overtime - any ideas as to why?
Swinney: I have no idea. I just know when we played them it's been overtime. Last year it was two good football programs that want to win and want to beat each other. It's been a battle to the finish. I don't expect anything different this weekend. Hopefully we can find a way to win in regulation. That's be nice.

Did the win last year at Miami really set the table for your run to the Atlantic Division championship?
Swinney: That was a real confidence booster for our guys. We were against the wall last year with the start we had. We had to win five straight conference games to clinch the division. That was a tough task to achieve that. Especially on the road - against the highest ranked team a Clemson team has ever beat in history on the road. We had a freshman quarterback and a freshman center. And to be able to overcome the adversity was a step in the right direction.

Is it their talent or scheme that leads to so many sacks?
Swinney: Lot of talent. You have to coach 'em up of course. But they've got some good DNA over there. 35 is a really good player. The kid behind him is a pretty guy. Tall and athletic and can run. They bring more pressure this year than last year. They will do some things to create some 1-on-1s with your tackles and we have to win those matchups. They are really long and fast up front.

Do you wish now you would have thrown the ball more to Dwayne Allen in the third quarter?
Swinney: We didn't do a good job on offense in the third quarter of that game. We didn't help our defense out with some execution. It wasn't anything they did or anything like that. Just didn't do a really good job.

The southern state of Florida produces more NFL talent than most entire states in the country- why is that?
Swinney: Just picked their roster up. It's incredible. The recruiting base that they have. First off there a ga-gillion people down there. A lot of folks. There's more people in a small radius than in the state of South Carolina. Maybe somebody should do a study. It's really the whole state. That particular region- they don't have to go very far to get very good players. They can nationally recruit. They have a good brand.

Is Wilson Norris trying to make a comeback?
Swinney: He's going to try. He's going to try to make a comeback. We are going to put him into green (jersey). He's going to be a senior. I hope he can come back and make some kind of contribution. He's going to give it a go.

When will we see some separation with your wide receivers?
Swinney: We've only played three games. We've got it down to six guys. Maybe seven. All of those guys have made big plays in three ball games. Every one of them. The next two or three weeks, you'll see some separation with these guys. It's still early to say 'hey this is a guy.' We've played three games. We've continued to get better. We know we have some youth there. I think we have talent and I think you are going to see that.

Da'Quan has been off to a fast start. Your thoughts on that?
Swinney: He's come to play. He really has. He's taken to heart the things we talked in the spring and the summer and fall camp. I know where he wants to be and where he wants to go and the level he's capable of playing at. He's been a good player. He'll never live up to expectations other people have for him. He's done some really good things but he hasn't been dominant every week like he's capable of being. We've talked about why and he's taken those things into account - his body. He was almost 290 last year now he's 273. He's just very focused on being a great player. We've had three ball games and he's been player of the game twice. They are going to try and identify where he is and stay away from him. Real proud of him after a tough camp. He's responded the right way.

You talked about establishing the run ... do you think because of the success Andre and Jamie have had teams will really key on them going forward?
Swinney: I would. They'd be village idiot if they don't. Those are good players. If you are getting ready to play Clemson you'd do anything you could to slow down No. 23 and No. 8. Coaches see things a little differently than other people. They know we've got some good players on the field, especially under center. But we'll certainly do everything we can to establish the running game every week. We'll do it different ways.

Andre Ellington is averaging 7.4 yards/carry. Is there something about his style that lends to that eye-popping number?
Swinney: He's just a talented back. Very good player. He rushed for 140-something yards on Auburn's defense. He breaks tackles. He has great vision. He played in the zone scheme his high school career. When we got him it was like his fifth-year in this system. He can see it. He can smell it. He has the ability to redirect without slowing down. He just kind of glides and is physical enough to break tackles. He's a downhill runner than redirect going full speed. That's a difficult combination. He's a tough guy.

Henderson is expecting to start for them at tackle this week. What do you know about him?
Swinney: Well there two starting guards last year have been playing. The guy you are talking about - don't know a lot about him other than he's big body and has a lot of talent.

Is it hard to tell your team to be disciplined in a different sort of a way than what they needed to be against Cam Newton this week?
Swinney: Different guys. Completely different animals here. But the objective is the same- we got to effect the quarterback. Different things you have to be more conscious of with these guys.

What do you think of their return game?
Swinney: No. 3 and No. 6 are dangerous. Very very dangerous. They are No. 1 in the conference and probably top 5 in the nation in with their averages. That's a big challenge. That's a big emphasis for both teams in this ball game because we've done a good job there and punted the ball well too. We are going to be very disciplined with our kick coverage game in this one. That's going to be very critical. They are capable. Very capable.

What have you seen of Catanzaro since the loss to Auburn? Do you talk to him or let him be?
Swinney: Just let him be. You are going to be miss a kick he just happened to miss a big one. Any time you miss one it's big. He's been perfect all but one. Hopefully he'll respond the way we hope. We've kind of re-created that situation a couple of times and he's been on the money. He's a tough young man. When you sign up for that job there are going to be days like that. Hopefully the next opportunity he gets he'll knock it right down the pipe.

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