Sunday teleconference transcript

The final thoughts on the Florida State win and an early look ahead to Virginia Tech by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.

Opening statement...
Swinney: We're really happy to be 4-0. I'm real proud of our team for finding a way to win. As a said yesterday, after watching the tape, we made a bunch of mistakes in that game. If we're going to achieve our ultimate goal, that's something we're going to have to improve upon. Fortunately, they made some mistakes, too. We ended up overcoming it. We had some issues in all three phases that can cost you ball games. We're happy to get a win. Florida State is a really good team. To have the amount offense we had was good. Defensively, I thought we had our best game. We really improved. It was just a lot of improvement in the game. We did a great job of stopping the run. We did have a couple of penalties and they hit us on a couple of big plays. We just improved. We didn't have guys running free, some of the busts that we had been having. We did not have [them]. We tackled better. Obviously, we won the two-minute situation at the end of the game. We were really good on third-down. I'm really proud of our defense for the improvement. We've still got a ways to go, with a big a step in the right direction...we had more big plays, first-down was very good, once again. We were tremendous on third-down. If we continue to be that kind of a third-down team, we'll win a lot of games. Overall, good improvement. Did not play well in a couple of areas. It's a big win, because of the conference. It's going to be a tough race all the way to the end here.

We turn our attention to Virginia Tech. It's another big challenge for us, with our schedule. Now, we've got to go on the road and play. We've yet to go on the road. I'm anxious to see how we do in a very tough, hostile environment.

What's Bryce McNeal's status? I know he missed the game for personal reasons yesterday.
Swinney: Exactly what you just said there. We'll meet with him tomorrow and see where it goes from there.

Are you going to be more precautionary this week with Ellington, given that the hamstring doesn't seem to have fully healed?
Swinney: We'll continue to be smart with our practice reps. He felt good after the game. He played 80-something snaps. He wasn't 100 percent, but he was able to gut it out. I think that was a good sign that he's healing pretty good. Hopefully, with another week of being smart how we practice him, we can get him 100 percent, or close to it, by the time we play at 6 o'clock on Saturday night.

Were there some issues with the long snaps yesterday? Was that an issue with the missed field goal?
Swinney: No. It was an absolutely perfect snap. We only had one bad snap. That was the low snap that Dawson got hurt on. Most of the snaps were money.

You have given up 155 yards on the ground per game. Virginia Tech goes to the run first...
Swinney: If they run the ball on us, it's probably going to be a long night. I'm sure they're looking at our tape and seeing the first three games. We tackled pretty poorly and did much, much better against Florida State. As we saw, they weren't able to run the ball. That'll be a big matchup, no doubt about it. Running the ball is about winning at the line of scrimmage. Defensively, for us, stopping the run and then tackling. We've done a pretty good job at the line of scrimmage. We've got to be good, sound tacklers.

What's Tony Steward's status moving forward? He hasn't played the last two games. Is there anything there?
Swinney: Just getting better. That's something that we actually talked about today, Tony and Stephone. Tony was actually going in twice, two different times Saturday. He was actually on the field, but we ended up going dime, because of the personnel Florida State sent out, so he had to come back out. He had a good week of practice last week. Same thing with Stephone. Both of those guys are, as this thing goes, you're going to continue to see them get on the field more and more. They're getting more and more confident. This is a very complex system that we run here. We've been fighting for our life these last couple of ball games. We haven't had a lot of snaps on defense. They've been pretty big snaps, every one of them. You'll continue to see those guys get worked in as we continue to build some depth. They'll both be real factors for us before this thing is over this year.

Did Bryce practice last week?
Swinney: I think he missed Wednesday and Thursday, if I remember correctly.

Can you better characterize what that meeting is about? Is it playing time? A family matter?
Swinney: He's just got some personal things he's evaluating. That's about it. We'll discuss it further at the appropriate time.


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