Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney discusses Saturday's matchup with ACC rival N.C. State.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Coach Scott lost his father in law, Mr. Fred Williams. That's Jeff's grand dad. Difficult situation going on. Coach Scott - will have to get him out of here for the funeral - him and Jeff. Want to remember them. Mr. Williams has been a preacher for the last 65 years. He baptized somebody Friday, married somebody Saturday. We'll cover for them until we get them back on Thursday.

N.C. State is a big challenge this week. A hot team. Playing very well on both sides of the ball. We'll have to do a really super job defending their offense. No. 1 in total offense- 35 points a game. They've been throwing it for over 300 yards per game. That's been their mode of operation. They've been leading the league in first downs. It all starts with the quarterback. Everybody is familiar with Russell Wilson. He's getting the ball to a lot of different people. He's been effective running and throwing.

They have four very good wide outs. 13 and 6 are the speed guys. 5 and 15 are the big ones. The tight end is a very special player. He's very good. 47 is a good player - the fullback. They move him around and do some different things. He's a good guy you have to account for as well.

At running back, No. 33 he's got really good vision. A true freshman. Showed up big time in the Florida State game. Looks like he's got a chance to be a good player. No. 29 is coming off a concussion not really sure of his status.

Defensively they are playing very well. Confident. Playing hard. There's an obvious influence of Coach Tenuta from his days at Georgia Tech with his pressure packages. He's had a nice impact on their defense. They are doing a good job getting to the quarterback. No. 56, he's their defensive Russell Wilson. He's a big time player. He lifts them up emotional. All of their defensive line is back ... the starters from last year are gone but all of these guys played against us last year. The secondary is young. Started three freshman last year so those three guys are back. They are sophomores now. They are playing well.

Military appreciation day this week- it's a special time at Clemson with our history here to honor the people that have made the ultimate sacrifice. Had the opportunity to take our team to the Scroll of Honor back in the summer. Colonel Sandy Edge gave a nice presentation to them. Gave them a different perspective.

Obviously we are coming off of a disappointing loss and thankfully have another chance to suit back up and go at it.

Can you talk about Kyle and Tajh and what's going on at quarterback?
Swinney: I meet with those guys every week. Kyle did not play well at Boston College. Pretty obvious. Did not have a very good game. As I said earlier, Kyle Parker is not the reason we've lost four ball games. He's not the reason we lost at Auburn. He did not play well the first half of the Miami of the game. I told Billy he had one series to play better or we were going to change. Then he played great. Was the offensive player of the game at North Carolina. Played great against Maryland. And Georgia Tech? He was outstanding. He's had one bad game. People are so quick to have amnesia. Kyle Parker is a very good player.

Now he has to perform better because if he doesn't he isn't going to be in there. It's that simple. He'll have the opportunity to get in there and play better. Our season has been disappointing. It's not been one thing you could say but our guys continue to battle and continue to compete and want to win. Tajh Boyd - we need to try and play over the remainder of the season I think you can expect to see him playing. We've got to get him in there. At this point I hoped things would be different because it seems like we've been living and dying with every play. Kyle Parker gives us the best chance to win right now. There's no question about that.

"Tajh has gotten better. I'm excited about him and the future. It's going to be a good situation. He's going to be the starter here (at some point). He's going to mistakes. We don't have any controversy. Kyle Parker has represented Clemson in a first-class way in two sports. He loves Clemson. Loves his teammates. I'm not going to let one game change that."

Tajh has gotten better. I'm excited about him and the future. It's going to be a good situation. He's going to be the starter here (at some point). He's going to mistakes. We don't have any controversy. Kyle Parker has represented Clemson in a first-class way in two sports. He loves Clemson. Loves his teammates. I'm not going to let one game change that. This guy did not have to be here. Heck, he walked away from almost 900,000 dollars to be here. For anybody to question his commitment they are off their rocker. He'll have to play better and he knows that.

What will you do at running back with McDowell?
Swinney: It will be his opportunity. He's ready. He's a redshirt freshman. He's practiced hard and gotten better. He still has some growing up to do. He's a very talented back and that's why we recruited him here. His opportunity is now. I tell these guys that all the time - prepare for you opportunity because you never know. It's a challenge for Jamie Harper. Barnes will be the third back.

So your conversation with Tajh this week was different than normal?
Swinney: My conversation with Tajh is you have to prepare every week. I did tell him that we've got to try and get him in there and force the issue a little bit. Really hope that we would have had some different scenarios but it hasn't worked out that way. We have four games left and we need to continue to see that growth and maturity with him. We have to be creative with him and that's what we will do.

So when will Tajh play?
Swinney: Head coach's decision. Kyle is the starter. We may slip Tajh in there a little bit here in there just to get him some snaps with our first team center- things like that.

You said McDowell has to grow up a little bit - what does that mean exactly?
Swinney: He's just a freshman. He's played a little bit, not a lot. Has to become a better practice player. That's probably the biggest thing - his intensity at practice and his sense of urgency.

Could you see Tajh starting multiple games the rest of the season?
Swinney: I don't see that at all. Only way I can see him starting is Kyle Parker just goes in the tank. I don't see that happened. I'd be shocked if that happened.

What does Tenuta bring to their defense?
Swinney: He's got some different pressure packages like what he did at Georgia Tech. You just see it on film. Oh boy. There it is again. We haven't seen that in a while. We've got a lot of experience with him so you can kind of see it. Good veteran football coach.

What about your kicking situation this week?
Swinney: Richard Jackson is going to get his opportunity. I'm proud of Richard Jackson. Here's a senior who lost his job. Got beat fair and square no questions asked. He's been very supportive and tried to be a leader in our senior meetings. Hopefully he can finish his career on a positive note. He was the difference in our game last year against Boston College. Very similar game just didn't make the kicks. Catanzaro has been lights out in practice. Very similar to Dawson Zimmerman. Catman is a freshman and I think he's going to be a heckuva player here but we have to get somebody else a chance. Jackson will be a starter in the game.


Dabo Swinney said Tuesday Andre Ellington will meet with a specialist either today or Thursday to look at his injury and will be out for at least the next two games. (Roy Philpott)
Is the outlook on Ellington at least two weeks?
Swinney: Yes. We are beat up right now. We've caught the injury bug here. At least two weeks. He's supposed to be meet with the doctors either today or Thursday. He's trying to meet with a specialist in Charlotte- looking for the best course of treatment. For sure- a couple of weeks. We'll have to go from there. Carlton Lewis - we are hopeful we get him for Florida State game. Kourtnei Brown- he's out as well for a couple of games. Miguel Chavis - he's questionable. Has not quite responded as well as we thought he would. I'm anxious to see him today.

What do you think the workload split will be between Harper and McDowell?
Swinney: We'll see. Jamie will be the starter. He knows it. He understands it and will lay it on the line. He can't play the whole game. Hopefully Rod can create a spark. It will depend on how he performs.

How much does losing Ellington impact your game plan?
Swinney: Well you lose a great player but we still have to do what we do. We have other good players here. Jamie has to take his game to another level. Same thing with Rod- he's got an opportunity.

What are you playing for now?
Swinney: We play for Clemson. We play to win at N.C. State. Listen, anything can happen if you just keep believing and keep working hard and getting better. It's about playing for Clemson and getting better. We have been laying it on the line. You guys have seen how we have lost games this year. It's about having the best season we could possibly have. It's about beating N.C. State.

You aren't mathematically eliminated from the Atlantic Division race though?
Swinney: Well these are young people. They've gone back to work and had a really good practice last night. We are on the path to success and greatness. And that path to success is not always smoothly paved. It's often paved with setbacks and disappointments. I'm very confident in where we are. We are 4-4 and I'm not happy about it. Nobody wants to be 4-4. The glass is always half full. A lot of people say it's half empty and go home. We expect to play at a high level. I know where we are. I'm not happy with the short term results we've had this season. But we are on the path to get the long term success we want. I've been on the job not even two years. Last year was a different deal with some of the intangibles we don't have right now. This team just hasn't quite gone like how we wanted it to. I expected us to be undefeated right now. I expected us to be in every game we've played and we have been. Short term results aren't quite what I want them to be but it's not over. We will line up and play very hard against N.C. State.

What are some of those intangibles you think you are missing right now from last year's team?
Swinney: Well we are missing some of our skill guys obviously. We only start four seniors on this team. Three on defense and one on offense. There are some things there we have to continue to grow to. I'm very confident with what we have on this team and what we've redshirted on this team. I'm extremely confident with how we are doing things.

Is it frustrating as a young coach to have so many close losses that have been literally decided by one possession?
Swinney: Yes it's tough. Because professionally you want to win every game and you are a competitor. I'm going to be 41 in 18 days. I'm not some child and I've been in college football a long time. I understand the pressures of it from a long time ago. Wins and losses don't change who I am. I'm a football coach and that's what I do but it's not what I am. It's always frustrating when we come up short. I'm human. But I would think everybody in here on some level has had some failure. It's disappointing. Especially when you put everything, every ounce you've got into something. It's frustrating. Absolutely. it's disappointing. You hang on. You hang tough. You don't quit. And you'll have success. We'll get there. The one thing that is encouraging to me, and frustrating at the same time. I know the progress we've made. It's going to come on the scoreboard unless we just panic, throw your hands up. And I'm not going to do that.

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