Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday's matchup with Boston College.

Opening statement
Swinney: Good team win last week. Really proud of our guys for how they played. Another big opportunity for us this weekend to hopefully continue to build some momentum and stick with our mentality of a one game season. The season is Boston College. The biggest thing for us is to continue to prepare well for a sense of urgency and continue to get better.

I'm proud of our guys because we've been in a heavy weight fight and we've gotten knocked down in the first few rounds but they have bounced back and it's all about how they finish. We are still in the fight, so to speak. I'm proud of our guys for that. We have to continue to practice the right way.

Boston College is always tough. You can take the names off the jerseys every single year. It doesn't matter. They are always big and strong. We've only one there one time in the history of the school. It's not a place Clemson has had a lot of success so we'll have to play well to beat these guys.

They are getting better as a football team. They went down to FSU- and they had a 19-7 lead early in the fourth quarter before they ended up losing by five points. Then they lost by three points this past week to Maryland- so they are getting better. Offensively, the biggest thing has been their quarterback. They've settled in with their freshman. And he's getting better. They are a dangerous football team.

You can't look at their record and think they aren't going to show up. Offensively, they are huge. They've got nine guys who are 6-6, 6-7 or 6-8 on the offensive side of the ball. They are veterans- just one new starter on the offensive line - that's their senior. Their tight end is back. Big No. 79 is back at left tackle. Montel- he's a tough runner and very capable of making some big plays. They are very NFL typish with their system and they are balanced. That's who they are.

The biggest thing is quarterback - No. 7 is kind of the guy even though No. 16 has played the most. For us, it's about continuing to play smarter and good solid defense. That's what I'm looking for this weekend from our defense. WE have to stop the run and get after the quarterback.

Defensively, they are No. 1 in the league in run defense. They are usually No. 1 in the league every year. They have a good system. They are No. 3 in total defense- typical B.C. They don't beat themselves and make you put drives together. Look our game last year and we didn't score a single touchdown against them. Had it not been for that we would have been in a dog fight. They have couple injuries - their defensive end is out. Their corner, [DeLeon] Gause, could be back. Same thing with their free safety (Wes Hill).

Every year we play them they always have some D-tackles that cause problems. No. 40- he's everywhere. He is kind of like that guy from Maryland.

Good to see [Mark]Herzlich back. Just wish we didn't have to play him. What a great story.

Their special teams are very good. Leading field goal kicker in the conference and their punter is from South Carolina.

The biggest challenge for us this week is to go on the road and win a complete game. We've been on the road twice now, one of them against the No. 1 team in the country and finish like we are capable of.

A year ago you were very effective against them-limiting them to just 54 yards. Can you be that effective again?
Swinney: I would say 54 yards against an opponent- that doesn't happen very often. It was kind of our day. They did hit some big plays on us but they had a lot of negative plays that took away from those yards. Hopefully we'll play good against them again, but 54 yards that would be tall order.

Do you get the sense this team is a desperate team?
Swinney: No I don't think they are a desperate team. They know what their issues are. They are just trying to get better and that's what they are doing - getting better. They have a young quarterback and are settling in. I see them gaining confidence, in particular on offense. They will be who they are. Here's what we do and let's get better at what we do. I don't see them changing from that. They are going to hand that ball off to Montel Harris. Then they will screen it. Then they will throw it to that big 6-6 wide out. The biggest thing for us is to hopefully stop the run and play to our strengths.

Last year you beat Wake and Miami as that winning streak progressed- do you see that same momentum this year?
Swinney: Well we are getting better like we did last year. Certainly when you win a couple of games that builds momentum. Last year's team laid an egg. This team has come to play every week. We have not played smart every week. We have beat ourselves on a couple of occasions. We've continued to play hard. That's the biggest thing.

What have you seen of Montel Harris, even going back to high school when you were recruiting Jamie Harper?
Swinney: He and Jamie were teammates. We did not recruit Montel. He was actually committed to Duke for a long time. I think he committed to B.C. two days before signing day. Anyway, that was obviously a big pick up for Boston College.

"Well we are getting better like we did last year. Certainly when you win a couple of games that builds momemtum. Last year's team laid an egg. This team has come to play every week."

Can you talk about Corico Hawkins and his play?
Swinney: Really really getting better. Played very good Saturday against Georgia Tech. All of our linebackers played good Saturday. He's just growing in his role. He's been a good solid quarterback for us for the defense. He's very smart. Only had one bad game but been very solid. He's got some more learning to do, but as a sophomore player he's going to be very good for us. He is what he is. He's strong and stout and crafty. That's why he's always been a good player because he can overcome his limitations. He's not a big tall player. Very productive player.

Andre Branch- could he back there at outside linebacker this week?
Swinney: Not unless they are running the triple option. I doubt it. That was a unique opportunity last week based on the game plan.

What are the challenges in going to the northeast and kind of being a fish out of water?
Swinney: We've gotten used to them because we play them every year. We play 'em every year. We've been up there a couple of times. Winning up there last time was pretty big. It's our longest flight so it's a little bit of a longer day. That's the biggest difference. We try to stick with a routine regardless. Can't get sweet tea up there. And the grits aren't that good.

Jonathan Meeks got the start for you Saturday. Can you talk about his play?
Swinney: Meeks is a blossoming player. He and Carlton Lewis. They've started to come on and give us significant reps. Meeks started the game and played great. Rashard Hall- we think a lot of him. That's one of the best things I'm seeing defensively right now- we are starting to build competitive depth. That's a great thing for accountability. With that comes confidence. Practice is better. It's been good. We have expectations for Meeks.

Typically good teams usually are able to block out distractions on the road. Is this team suited to do that kind of thing?
Swinney: Again, the one thing I've been proud of with the team, regardless of where we've been - whether it's Auburn or regardless of what has happened- I like that quality. Just being able to finish on the road is what I'm looking for. Finishing the right way is the biggest thing for us. Good teams? None of that stuff matters. It's all about how you practice. How you prepare and your routine. It shouldn't matter who you play, or how cold it is, or if it's raining. And they find a way to win. Hopefully we'll be that team this Saturday.

"The biggest thing with Andre is his maturity off the field. This guy has really gotten focused in the offseason with what he's done from his body. He came here as a little ol' runt. He couldn't have been more than 180 pounds. Now he's 195 pounder and rocked up and put together." (Roy Philpott)
Will you do anything to prepare for cold weather?
Swinney: No not at all. The only thing we are adjusting to is the field turf. So we'll practice on the field turf this week to get ready.

Their middle linebacker - is he a guy that is really impressive? What does he do to put up such big numbers?
Swinney: He has great vision. He does a great job with studying tendencies. High energy. Their scheme and how they play it with them big ol' suckers up front - he's unblocked. It's a system where the linebackers should make a lot of tackles. He does a great job of finishing those tackles.

Are you surprised by how effective Andre Ellington has been this year?
Swinney: No. He's a great back. The biggest thing with Andre is his maturity off the field. This guy has really gotten focused in the offseason with what he's done from his body. He came here as a little ol' runt. He couldn't have been more than 180 pounds. Now he's 195 pounder and rocked up and put together. Very compact. He's gotten more explosive. He's faster and more physical. Great vision and just has a real knack for how to set block. His feet never stop. The best thing about him is it's like having a senior having his knowledge of the offense with learning the zone play and those principles. He's way wise beyond his years when it comes to learning how to play in the zone scheme.

Andre Ellington had only 10 carries going into the fourth quarter last week and it worked out well as he was fresh. Was that by design?
Swinney: Just how it worked out. A lot of depends on what is happening. We had some quick scores- quick short possessions. It was great to finish the way we did.

Have you allowed yourself at all this week to reflect on your last trip up there?
Swinney: We've got that trophy. I'll never forget that moment - first of all because of the seniors we had on that team. James Davis, Aaron Kelly and Grisham. Here's a group that loses their coach right in the middle of the season. It's their senior year. I can put myself in that situation and what a downer that is. They rallied together and were great leaders for the young players on the team and bought in to what we were trying to do. To see them win how they won was awesome. They had the lead, but lost the lead and came back. Kelly with a big touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. That was a really good night. One I'll never forget. Really more just because of that senior group and what they had been through - to see them smile and have some fun. A lot of those seeds those seniors planted - we are reaping the benefits of that right now.

B.C. is kind of known for developing players maybe that aren't five-star prospects. Why is that?
Swinney: Well they are well coached. They know what they are looking for in their system. Coach Spaz is one of those great guys. Great coach. They are having a tough year but they aren't going away. They are a team that will be a factor here for a long time.

Are you worried that your players could be too focused on the FSU/N.C. State game Thursday night given the ramifications that game will have on you?
Swinney: I can promise you that's what B.C. is hoping. They are hoping that our players are looking at their record and our guys are just going to show up and win. But yeah you always worry with young people. You tell them the stove is hot and what's the first thing they do? They touch it. Hopefully we've learned a lot this season already. You are one game away from being a .500 team. Are you kidding me?

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