Dabo Swinney Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday's matchup with No. 21 Auburn.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Good to see you guys today. We are excited about the opportunity to play Auburn this week and get another shot of those guys. Everybody has vivid memories of what happened down there last year. They are coming in to this game as a 17-game winning streak and I have a lot of respect for them. They just find a way to win. That's what winning does. When you win games consecutively like that, a belief comes about. A swagger. A confidence ... where you just feel like you are going to make a play. Having been a part of a 20 game winning streak at Alabama you just feel like you are going to win.

This is going to be a tough out for us this week. They are an opportunistic team. They always seem to be in the right place at the right time. It's not often you get the National Champion at your place. It doesn't happen often. They are certainly the champions and they deserve that. We get our shot this week.

Defensively for us we have to play for a lot of poise. That's very important in this game. We have to stop the run. Auburn likes to run the football and if we can stop the run that gives us an advantage. We have to tackle better than we have the last couple of weeks.

I've watched Barrett Trotter for a long time. He's a winner. And he's his own guy. He's not Cam Newton. He's Barrett Trotter. We need to effect him and get after him. We need to create turnovers. One of the things we've done a really good job of in these first two games is win the turnover margin. That's one of the reasons we are 2-0. If we want to be 3-0.

And then big plays. Auburn has lived off of big plays. That goes back to knowing who is on the field and what they do out of those sets. We've got to have a great week of film study and preparation and then execution on game day.

Offensively we have to play fast and physical and have to protect the football and we have to play for four quarters. They are young on defense but they have a bunch of guys back who played a lot on that National Championship team. They are a very good SEC defensive football team.

Special teams is an area we always want to win and we didn't do that last week.

It's about the Clemson Tigers more than it is about the Auburn Tigers. We have to continue to improve. This is a game of execution. They know us well and we know them well. We are 2-0 and that's where we want to be. We've had some really good and really bad but we now need to play better.

We are excited about it. Looking forward to the opportunity Saturday.

Is this a statement game given the team coming in here and the fact this game is on national television?
Swinney: Well, it's an opportunity for momentum. If you look at my first year, the win at Miami was a big win that created momentum for us. Then we came back and beat Florida State and N.C. State and Virginia and we won the division. That win created momentum. It's early and we don't know a lot about this team yet. The only way you find out is to go play. We play the longest winning streak in the country and the national champions. Statement game? I don't know if I'd say that. We won't cancel the season if we win it or lose it. We have to focus on playing well. Executing at a high level and just trying to win this game.

Chad Morris said yesterday he wanted to get more physical in practice. Will you amp it up more this week?
Swinney: We will get after it today and tomorrow physically. our guys our confident and they should be. We match up well with these guys. I thought we did last year. We had a lot of mental errors and missed a couple of critical opportunities to put the game away and they hit us on a double move for a long touchdown and we lost on a kick in overtime. We've got to put it all together. We have to execute.

When you say you match up physically last year and then Chad says we need to be more physical ... give us your thoughts on that.
Swinney: There's not a problem. We just have to do it. We did some good things against Troy and Wofford we just aren't where we need to be. Sometimes we put a big blanket statement out there and throw everybody under the bus. We've got guys that are doing a really good job but we have to have more of it consistently. I've seen us do it. That's my point. We have video evidence. I promise you if you ask Auburn who were the top three teams we played last year we'll be in the answer. Saw Coach Chizik last year and he said that. We have to do it every play. We are a little bit of a work in progress. It's new. We are doing some different things in some areas and there's been a little bit of hesitation. But at the end of the day we've had 900 something yards of offense. So it ain't all bad. We are leaving a lot of meat on the bone. That's the frustrating thing as a coach. Just things like that - and we are trying to push these guys. Coaches know what's coming. We know we have to play better to beat Auburn or Florida State or Virginia Tech. We don't want anybody to have a comfort zone.

What are some of the areas you feel like you have improved on through the first two games?
Swinney: How about our quarterback? He played four quarters of good football Saturday. We are taking care of the ball. We are sixth in the country in penalties. We had one penalty Saturday. Those are things I'm encouraged about. You take care of the ball and you have more big plays than your opponent you are going to win 98 percent of the time. We bunted all over the field last year and we scored on back to back plays Saturday. Bam. Bam. Andre Ellington is second in the league in rushing. We've found out answers about Phillip Price. He's a solid player. But from a coaching standpoint, you are always trying to get better. We've made too mistakes that have cost us.

"You take care of the ball and you have more big plays than your opponent you are going to win 98 percent of the time. We bunted all over the field last year and we scored on back to back plays Saturday."

Are they doing the same things with Trotter that they did with Cam Newton last year?
Swinney: They are the same offense, but they aren't going to call the same type of quarterback runs. As they went through the season last year, they involved Cam Newton more because they realized they had something special. That doesn't mean they won't do it this year. We have to be prepared for this guy to run the ball. He's an adequate runner and we didn't tackle the quarterback well last week. And then the scrambling - you would play great defense and he would scramble for 30 yards. That's just recruiting there. One guy doesn't make the tackle and he ran for 30 yards. But Trotter, he has the potential to be a very solid player for him. Gus [Malzahn] is doing some good things with him. Good thrower. But hopefully he has an off day Saturday.

Coach Morris and Coach Malzahn have a relationship ... was that the type of offense you were looking for when you hired an offensive coordinator this past January?
Swinney: No it wasn't necessarily "this is the offense I want." I had different things in my mind. The biggest thing was ... I didn't know Chad Morris at all and didn't know he knew Gus Malzahn. That was one of Chad Morris' references. Gus sent me a text yesterday saying we need to spot him seven points because he spoke for Chad. He was very helpful. I talked to Mike Sherman at Texas A&M. He was very helpful in making a decision on Chad. He was a great reference.

Why do you think Auburn went on to have such a great year last season and you didn't after the game down there?
Swinney: Well, I think they had a little bit more than we had in the tank. We got some guys hurt that really affected us. I know we didn't have a great season and we didn't have a good record. But our guys played hard. We lost five games by six points or less. Nobody wants to hear that. We still competed. But a game like that really created some momentum for them. They came back from 17 points and it propelled them. They would probably tell you the same thing. They just find ways to win and I give them all the credit. They may not be a dominant team but they get wins. As that ball starts rolling, and you gain momentum and swagger, you get a chance to put together a streak like they've done.

After two games you've said you don't have confidence in your second string guys. Is that how you feel right now?
Swinney: I'm still not comfortable. But I'm a little better because I've seen these guys play. Some of the guys on the defensive line - Graddy [Jarrett], DeShawn [Williams] and Tavaris [Barnes] and others - they are going to have to play. We are still a ways away from really being solid from a depth standpoint. At receiver, I have a real comfort zone with what I have there. At running back - there are some unknowns. [Mike] Bellamy is a guy we have to get going. D.J. Howard is another guy. Been frustrating we haven't been able to get Demont Buice going because of injuries. On the offensive line I'm still not overly confident with our depth there. But that's why we practice. And hopefully this game will give them a chance to grow and mature.

How have you seen Chandler Catanzaro mature since the Auburn game last year?
Swinney: Well he was a freshman and points came off the board and the weight of the world was on his shoulders. He's gotten tougher. I'm proud of how he finished the season. That kick he made at Florida State last year was a monster kick that tied the game for us. He missed a kick Saturday but I'm confident in him. He's been a consistent performer since last spring.

Have you ever seen a guy catch punts above his head like Sammy Watkins does?
Swinney: No I haven't. He's a snatcher. The bottom line is he catches it. Some teams in the NFL will coach guys to catch it like that. No, I've never seen that.

Do you expect Tajh to become more involved in the running game going forward?
Swinney: Yeah. I think you'll see us continue to add that element to our offense. Some of it's read type stuff and the read was to give. That was the problem in the first game - he gave it when he should have kept it and he kept it when he should have gave it. And his scrambling ability - he needs to be a difference maker for us.

Will you reserve your decisions on lineup changes on the offensive line until after practice? Chad Morris mentioned Mason Cloy and Brandon Thomas doing some things, potentially.
Swinney: Yeah. We might slip in Brandon Thomas, who's been working at left tackle at left guard. I'm seeing some things. He was over here this morning and taking some initiative and that's good to see.

CUTigers.com Top Stories