Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday's game at North Carolina.

Opening Statement
Swinney: Trying to get back on track this week in conference play. Another opportunity for us to go on the road. Hopefully win on the road. That's what we have to do to get back on track. We've lost one at home so we need to get one back on the road.

Both teams come in at 2-2. This football team is very talented. Recruiting has not been a problem for them. They have good players. Their quarterback has gotten better every single year. Very well coached. He's only got one interception and a 1,000 yards. Very efficient. Veteran offensive line. Bunch of guys back with a bunch of starts.

As far as their skill - they are as good as we've played. No. 34 is as good as we've played. He's a tough, physical down-hill runner that finishes well. 88, 87, and No. 83 are big receivers. They will probably take five or six deep shots every game and a lot of that is off of play action. They also do a good job throwing to the tight end. He's a good player.

But it's important when we watch them- they want to establish the run. They run the power and the zone and they will try to create some conflicts for you as far as what you're reads are. We have to fit the gaps properly defensively and then defend the deep ball. If we can stop the run and make them one-dimensional that will be key for us.

Defensively, they are big defensively. No. 90- he's an outstanding player and makes as many plays as anybody we've seen. We are expecting him to play tackle this week because they lost a guy and are a little thin in there. Their linebackers are big and can run and are all NFL guys. They have the one safety who came back last week and had a pick-six. They get another one back this week and they are both NFL guys.

We have to be able to establish the run in this game and have ball security. We went from seventh in the nation to 51st in one game. Special teams we have to continue to do a good job. Last week's performance was just outstanding. It's important to do a great job there.

Practice was good last night. Good focused, intensity so that on game day we can play the way we are capable of playing. Looking forward to getting back on the field Saturday and seeing if we can get back in this conference.

Do you have to fight the perception that North Carolina isn't that good because of all the suspensions?
Swinney: No becuase our guys watch film. All you have to do is turn the tape on. It's easy. They know good players. When they seem No. 90 running around - they know good players. These are the best linebackers we've play. They see them safeties.

How do you respond after a tough loss like that against Miami?
Swinney: Well I mean, you just get back up. Be honest. We've done that. We know what our problems are. You make sure everybody understands the reality of the situation and not perception. Truth of the matter is we've lost two games to two really good football teams. We had the opportunity to win both of them. It's our job to get it fixed ... come together as a family and getting better. Life is about adversity. Who doesn't have a bad day? The key is when adversity comes - you either get bitter or get better? How you react to it is all that matters. That's why there are a lot of quitters in the world - because that's the easy thing to do. The hard part is to get better. People use that as excuses. I ain't no quitter. I'm a winner. I've got a room full of players and staff that are winners. All I know to do when things don't go your way you get up and get better. The other thing is we've got hope. I look at other teams around and they don't have hope. We've got hope. We are good enough. Auburn is in the top ten right now? Miami team that is really talented with six turnovers and give up three uncontested touchdowns and still have a chance to win the game? We have to make sure we don't lose sight of all the good. We are doing a ton of good things. We've played extremely hard for four quarters. We are going to get better and there's a lot of football left. I hope we have 10 more games. We still control our own destiny in this conference.

As I told them the other day, it's always the darkest right before dawn.

"Life is about adversity. Who doesn't have a bad day? The key is when adversity comes - you either get bitter or get better? How you react to it is all that matters."

Can you explain the wide receiver rotation you expect to use Saturday?
Swinney: The reps will be different. We started out with an eight-man rotation and it will now be six. Right now we've got a seven man corp. and we will need all of them to win the championship. Things have kind of settled themselves on the film. The four guys will be Nuke Hopkins, Bryce McNeal, Marquan Jones and Jaron Brown. The other guys will plays some with the majority of the snaps going to those guys.

Defensively- what has been the issue for your team this year? Surely it's not talent and are you surprised by what has happened on that side of the ball so far?
Swinney: I'm disappointed. Our problems on defense have been uncontested big plays. In two ball games that's what has cost us. We know it. Our players know it. We know what the problems are and we will get them fixed. We obviously need to coach better and get it fixed. Bottom line. When you play good teams and make some of the simple mistakes we have made, it will cost you. We had three plays that were completely uncontested. Everybody knows what our issues are. Our staff knows.

What has been the common thread in those defensive issues?
Swinney: Well no. The only common thread is - let me tell you something - we've played some incredible defense. There were 60 plays in that game Saturday where we played unbelievable defense. Da'Quan Bowers is playing as well as anybody in the country. It comes down to busts. We have to eliminate that little lull where we have mental lapses.

Has DeAndre McDaniel been trying to do too much?
Swinney: He's just like everybody else. He's just got to do his job.

It seemed like there was some confusion Saturday on defense. Was there?
Swinney: Yes there was some confusion on a couple of plays- that's for sure. Shouldn't have been. But again, that's on all of us.

You said Saturday you wanted to get some more opportunities for more players. Can you elaborate on that now?
Swinney: I think it's important we get Malliciah Goodman more time. He was hurt Saturday so he was limited. Nuke Hopkins. Jaron Brown. Bryce McNeal. Some of those guys. Listen, there's no entitlement. Nobody on this team has any entitlement. Everybody has to perform. If you don't perform you have to give the next guy the opportunity. I think we can do a better job of subbing in some instances. Dwayne Allen - we need to take 10 plays away from him because he's playing a lot of snaps so we can have him a little fresher in some critical components.

Are there any similarities to where you are right now to where you were at this point last year?
Swinney: No. Different team. We haven't laid an egg. We laid a big ol' goose egg at Maryland last year. This team has not done that. This team is playing. They've bought in. We are just having some self-inflicted wounds right now. We can't do that. If we are going to be a good team, we can't do that. We don't have to play perfect. We don't have to be supermen. We've lost to two tough teams but we are going to win a bunch of games this year.

What happened with Kyle Parker Saturday?
Swinney: He didn't play good in the first half. I don't know. He has baseball games where he goes 0-for-3. He's human. I'm sure sometimes y'all write bad articles or y'all do a bad broadcast. It happens. But he played outstanding in the second half. He made some incredible throws. He makes that throw to Nuke Hopkins and then a fumble. Then we hit a couple of plays and it's third-and-1 on the 27-yard line with a chance to get it done. We put ourselves in the situation to win in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcat formation - will we see that again Saturday or was that just for Miami?
Swinney: Hang around. You might see a little more of it here and there. It's something we've wanted to do a little bit of. Open date we got a chance to polish up a few things. Had a few effective things. Had the opportunity in the third quarter we didn't take advantage of. It gives the defenses something else to think about it.

How is Tajh Boyd coming along and what's his mentality right now?
Swinney: Tajh is coming along. We certainly want to get him ... the last two games have been difficult situations. He's making great progress. Really is. He's come light years. Going to be a great player. I think he's going to have some really good moments this year. Hopefully he'll have a chance to get back on the field soon. His time will be coming.

Injury wise- do you expect David Smith to play and what about any other updates from Saturday?
Swinney: Malliciah is just a bruise. Expect everybody else [to play.] David [Smith] is the only one I'm not sure of. Mason Cloy played a great game. He was the lineman of the game. Our offensive line has played tremendous. Miami was second in the nation in sacks coming in here and we blocked extremely well.

Does Dawson Zimmerman's performance through the first part of the season allow you to be more creative on third down knowing you can depend on him?
Swinney: He's a weapon. The punt is one of the best offensive plays in football if you have a good punter. Through four games he has been outstanding. I told him if he could do it four games in a row I'd have to be nice to him. So I have to honor that starting today. I'll call him by his first name. He's been a weapon. Those guys last week were top in the country in returns and they didn't get anything. Hey - Kyle Parker had a good punt too now.

Is this a situation when you are seeing these guys hold their own in practice and then not in the game when it comes to some of the busts in the secondary/
Swinney: Exactly. We have practiced well. This team has learned how to practice. It's not a lot of people. We are talking about a few guys - that have made a few critical mistakes. Whether it's their eyes, or alignments. We just have to react. They are practicing with intensity and effort. Where we got hurt, was not an alignment problem, we just didn't do what we were supposed to do.

They throw a lot to the tight end ... does that put more of an onus on your linebackers Saturday?
Swinney: We just have to execute the call. We are very aware of No. 17 - he's a good player. He leads them. We can't let them get in rhythm. They do a lot of three-step drop. It's what they do. We have to contest and challenge all those throws.

What's been the difference in T.J. Yates this year?
Swinney: He's playing extremely efficient. He's very well coached. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Knows their offense inside and out. Knows where to go based on what he's seeing. They've done a good job of scheming things that they do well. Like most players, when they gain experience, they get better. Over 1,000 yards and one interception.

What's been the different in Andre Ellington this year? He's leading the league in rushing right now and looks to be one of your more dynamic players.
Swinney: Very talented player and C.J. Spiller isn't here anymore. He put on some serious muscle in the offseason and has gotten stronger. Tough guy. As tough as they come. Hate we had the fumble the other day but he's been a really good player. Good all-around player. There really isn't anything he can't do. Great protector. Great zone runner. He's got some thunder to him. And Jamie has a little lightning to him. Nice combination.

Is this where you thought you would bring down the receiver rotation - week No. 5?
Swinney: We hoped that it would play itself out by now in three and half games. Guys get opportunities when they earn them. It's been a very competitive situation. Even where we are right now - nothing is final. You have to perform.

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