ACC teleconference transcript

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney won't use last year's overtime loss at Auburn as motivation for the Noon showdown in Death Valley.

How hard is it to keep your team focused on winning the game and not worrying about avenging last year's loss?
Swinney: That's not a real motivating factor. That might be something more for the fans. We'll go through our normal process. Our formula for success doesn't change, regardless of who we play, where we play or when we play. That's really irrelevant to us as a team. We just focus on trying to practice the right way and making sure our effort is where it needs to be, making sure our commitment and we work to the standard we've set. That's all we really focus on. We'll watch film and prepare. They all know that this is a great opportunity for us. They're a team we know a lot about, and they also know a lot about us. At the end of the day, it's just trying to be the best team, from an execution standpoint. That's what we've got to do to have a chance to win.


Andre Ellington rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown against Auburn in 2010. (Roy Philpott)
In your opinion, where did your team struggle the most after playing teams like Troy and Wofford and not being able to beat them handily?
Swinney: That always amuses me, when I hear people talk about that. Nobody ever wants to give the opponent any credit. Troy and Wofford are championship programs. They're tough outs for anybody. We're very proud to be 2-0. Do we want to play better? Do we have to play better? Yes. The objective is to win that game, do whatever you have to do to win that game. That's really all we're focused on. There's a lot of areas we've got to improve in. Really, just consistency, having good, crisp execution. Defensively, we've got to tackle better. That's something that we've not done a great job of. We've got to minimize the big plays and play with some poise. We're playing with a lot of young guys. We've got to keep growing them up. Offensively, we've done a lot of good things there. We have to continue taking care of the ball. The biggest thing is putting it all together for two halves, which we have not done yet. That's the objective, to go play a complete game.

With all the speculation nationally about the advancement of super conferences and 16-team leagues...how important are inter-conference matchups in getting exposure to your program to kids who might not otherwise see it?
Swinney: I think those things would go away, for sure, if we get into some kind of mega-conference kind of deal. I have no idea if that's where it's going. There's a lot of speculation and a lot of people talking about it. At this point, I literally don't pay it any attention. I've got a job to do. It's above me anyway. That's more of the presidents' level, right now, as far as what's going on. It seems to be picking up momentum. If it goes that route, I don't think you'll see games like this. Which, to me, I think is sad. I've always been a traditionalist with college football. I love some of the great rivalries that you have. It's great to see Alabama play Penn State. I don't think you'll be able to do that if you have 16 or 20 teams in a conference. Change is inevitable it seems. We'll just have to see how the landscape goes and it'll all shake out from there. I have no idea, right now, how it's going to shake out.

"We have an incredible environment here, a great fan-base, an incredible game day experience, high academic standards, great coaches, great support and resources."

Do you get the sense that's one thing that players like that about coming Clemson, because you schedule games like this?
Swinney: Not really. I think people like coming to Clemson because it's Clemson. We're in a great conference. We have an incredible environment here, a great fan-base, an incredible game day experience, high academic standards, great coaches, great support and resources. I think that's why they come to Clemson, because of those things. They know if you come to Clemson, you're going to play a great schedule, great teams and have a chance to win. That's probably the biggest reason, not who we're playing.

It's been well-documented that Auburn has won 10-straight games by eight points or fewer. Some attribute that to luck. What do you attribute that to?
Swinney: You make your own luck. I think that they've done a great job at creating a winning culture over there. Coach [Gene] Chizik and his staff deserve a lot of credit. I was a part of a 20-something game winning streak at Alabama. The one thing that I can remember, you just expect to win when you win that many games in a row, you expect to win. You never panic. You expect for somebody to make a play. Good things happen for you when that ball gets rolling for you. And that's what's happened to Auburn. People can say whatever they want. They've found a way to win for 17-straight games. That is incredibly difficult to do, especially when you play the difficult schedule like they play, the out of conference schedule, you have to win a championship game, stay healthy. There's so much that goes into that. I don't really get into luck. I think, to be a championship team, you have to catch a break or two here along the way, but I believe that you make your own breaks.

Can you talk about last year's experience? Do you expect this game to be similar to that one?
Swinney: The last two times we've played Auburn, they've been overtime. Unfortunately, Clemson has come out on the short end of both of those. I expect it to be a very hard fought game. I know our team is excited to play. They're going to try to defend this turf with everything they've got. They're going to try to win this game, I don't doubt that at all. I also know that Auburn is going to do everything they can to extend their streak. That's what they do. Last year was a very physical game. We just made a couple of more mistakes than Auburn did, at the end of the day. We had some really critical, missed opportunities that you have to make to win those type of games. They were things that were totally in our control that we didn't take advantage of. That was the biggest disappointment of that game, it was more some things we didn't do. It was a great football game. I hate that it ended the way it did. I would expect another hard fought game, for sure.


Dabo Swinney doesn't mind seeing Cam Newton playing in the NFL. (AUTigers.com)
Is it a lot easier with no Cam Newton? Is it just different?
Swinney: Certainly, I'm kind of glad Cam Newton is with the Carolina Panthers. I'm not going to lie to you about that. They're very difficult to prepare for. Coach Malzahn uses their personnel very well. They may have called more quarterback counters or quarterback powers, because they had the ability of Cam Newton. This year, they're just calling more of something that else that was already in their system, but equally as dangerous. They've got some playmakers -- 23, 80, 5 and 43. They're going to run the offense through those guys. You better know where they are. That's really the biggest things. He just calls some things differently. So far, they've kind of lived on the big play and found a way to win. We've got to do a great job of trying to stop the run, making them have to go the distance and not giving them big plays.


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