Sunday teleconference transcript

CLEMSON - Injury updates on David Smith, Andre Ellington and the status of Joe Craig for Saturday's game against No. 11 Florida State.

Opening statement
Swinney: Again, just kind of reiterating what I said last night, I'm really happy with the win and really proud of our players. To get down 14 points twice to those guys, I thought they showed a lot of heart, a lot of mental toughness to hang in there, and again, to find a way to win. I really like our team. One thing I have said repeatedly when people ask me what I'm excited about, I've said leadership. That's the thing I'm most excited I've seen with our team -- leadership and accountability. Since last January, that continues to impress me. We have had good leadership. We've yet to be in the lead at the half. Guys keep playing and we've made some good adjustments.

Right now, we're really complimenting each other in a lot of ways. Defense gives up a good play, the offense is getting them back. The offense makes a mistake, the defense gets it back. Special teams came through for us yesterday again. In two out of three games, I think we've played pretty good special teams. I think we're on the right track. We're really happy to be 3-0. We've got a lot of work to do in getting ready for a really tough Florida State team. This starts conference play for us. Really, that's really what it's all about. We can win our division, we have a chance to play for the conference title and that can get you into the BCS. It's a very big game, from that standpoint. We're excited about it. We'll get the guys in here tomorrow morning at 6:30, put that win behind us. We have a lot to learn from this tape.

Andre Ellington tweaked a hamstring in Saturday's win over Auburn. His status for Florida State is questionable. (Roy Philpott)
There's still too many big plays on defense. It's really kind of our Achilles heel right now. It's really kind of hurting us. Offensively, we did a lot of good things. We still have to improve the knowledge of some of our players. We left a lot out there. There's a lot of things that we've got to take advantage of. We've yet to play our best game, is what I'm trying to say. That's our goal, to try to keep getting better as a team.

From an injury standpoint, David Smith is on the fast-track. We're hopeful right now, know more here in a couple of days. We're hopeful he'll be back. Andre Ellington tweaked his hamstring, as did Mansa Joseph and Darrel Smith. We're hopeful all three of those guys will be ready as well. Then, we had Peake and Cloy, a couple of guys that had a little, mild AC sprain in their shoulder, but all those guys should be fine as well. There's just a lot of guys that are beat up. Right now, I think David Smith is the most questionable, because he is coming off surgery, and I haven't really seen him out there yet. Like I said, I'll know more here in a couple of days. Other than that, we've got some bumps and bruises. Hopefully, we'll have more hands on board come Saturday."

How big of a challenge is it to get your team refocused after a really big win for you guys?
Swinney: I don't think it's really hard when you've got Florida State. Maybe if you're playing a non-conference opponent. For us, we stayed focused on our goals. Florida State is a huge rival for us. It's always a big game for our players, a big game for our fans. They're the Atlantic Division champs. Just like the rest of the teams in our division, to be the champs, you've got to knock the champs out. They beat us last year at their place. I'm hoping we continue to play well at home and get a little bit of a lead here in our division. It's not the end all, by any stretch of the imagination. Certainly, whoever wins it has a little bit of a start in the division race. That's what we're focused on. I don't think it's going to be very hard at all to get these guys ready to go.

How important for the guys to see that the work they're putting in, in January, pay off against Auburn?
Swinney: It's very important to have success when you've worked
"It's very important to have success when you've worked really hard. Our guys have worked really hard. They've bought into what we're trying to do."

really hard. Our guys have worked really hard. They've bought into what we're trying to do. It kind of gives them some confirmation that, hey, you know what? We've got a chance to be pretty good here. That's really it. It's early in the season. It just king of keeps them dialed in and excited. Hopefully, we've got their full attention, because that's what it's going to take for us to continue to improve. It's really what it's all about. We're just in September. We've got a long way to go -- 3-0 is going to get it done. We've got to try to keep improving as a team from week to week, and see what happens at the end of the season.

What was your reaction to the conference expansion news today?
Swinney: To be honest with you, I haven't read anything or heard anything. In fact, I didn't know that it was anything official until Tim Bourret told me a little bit ago. I've been kind of in a cave. We've been grading that film, putting that one to bed and getting on to Florida State. We just got out of that. I haven't had a chance to catch up on it at all. To be honest with you, I don't know much about Pittsburgh or Syracuse. I know they're great programs, but I'm just not real concerned about it, at this point. The only thing I'm worried about is playing Florida State. That's for other people, making those decisions. That's more for them to worry about right now.

Has Joe Craig worked himself back into consideration for playing time, or does he still have some work to do?
Swinney: Actually, he's done very well. He's doing very well. I'm pleased with the progress he's made. Obviously, he's kind of behind the eight-ball a little bit. He's got some guys that have been playing. I think he'll help us as we go through the season. He's very talented, incredibly fast and tough. I think, at some point, he's going to show up for us. He's probably going to be limited this week, because this is the first game he's actually eligible to play for us. He's got a little family situation. He's going to be gone a couple of days, Monday and Tuesday. He won't be back until Wednesday. Obviously, that's going to set him back. That's something we've known about. He'll miss a couple of days practice, it'll be tough for him this week. Again, as we move forward, I feel like he'll have an opportunity to make a contribution.

Can you talk about Brandon Thomas and how he graded out?
Swinney: All those guys up front graded out a winner. We came down on them pretty hard last week. The protection was very, very good. We did some good things. As the game went on, they got better and better. Our guys got stronger as the game went. To have the ball for 9:34, starting the drive on the 5-yardline and going 18 plays, that's dominant offensive line play. Not only that, they played like 90-something plays. I'm really proud of those guys.

Brandon Thomas, in particular, I cannot say enough good things. It was great seeing him respond with his opportunity. We had several guys yesterday that had an opportunity, who hadn't had a lot, and they responded very well. For example, Charone Peake hadn't played a lot. He just hadn't had a lot of opportunities to make plays in the game. Brandon Thomas really, really stepped up. D.J. Howard, too. We're just excited about the fact that Brandon has played well and he' can really see himself on film. hopefully, he's going to have a lot of confidence from that performance. He realized the reason he was successful was because he practiced the right way and prepared the right way.

Will you prepare for two quarterbacks, or just E.J. Manuel?
Swinney: I'll be surprised if we don't see E.J. Manuel. Regardless, they're going to do what they do. They're going to run their offense. It looked like Trickett was a good player to me. He kind of sparked them, a little bit. I know he's a very talented player, having watched him in high school. He's been around ball his whole life. I think, whoever they put out there, will be very well prepared to run their offense. Top Stories