Dabo previews Boston College

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday's matchup with Boston College.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Thank y'all for being here. First of all, just want to say how proud I am of our team and our staff. Really happy we are 5-0 at this point in the season. Our focus is on 100 percent on just trying to win our division. That's all our focus is on. Just trying to get to 3-0 in the ACC. Really like the business-like approach our team took yesterday. Our senior meeting was outstanding. They know we've got a ton of improvement to do. There's a lot of work we have to get done - in a lot of areas. We are finding ways to win. They keep responding and I'm thankful for the leadership we have on this team. I've been saying that since last spring. They are just focused. You put that with talent and great work ethic you have a have a chance.

Boston College is a typical B.C. type of team. Tough, physical. Five of the last six games have been a touchdown or less. They beat us last year. I know they are not having a great season last year to this point, but they were 2-5 last year when they beat us and I don't believe they lost a game after that. We know we are in for a tough game against these guys.

The other thing is that it's Homecoming. That's a special time here for our fans and we obviously we want to make it a special week. Again, just trying to have a good routine this week and do things the way we want to do them all year.

Boston College - they try to get you to line up wrong with their motions. Montel Harris is an outstanding running back. We had a hard time getting him on the ground. He had a lot of yards after contact and he had the one touchdown they had on a wheel route. They have a controlled type passing game and then they'll take their shorts. But for us we have to stop the run. If you are going to win this game you have to stop the run and win first down. That would be advantage Clemson.

Their defense is strong, physical and young. They don't have the stats they have had in the last couple of years, but they are really tough every single year with their style of play with how they slant and angle their defensive line. They always have big, physical linebackers that can run. They only have one senior on defense and just two on offense. They are a young football team that is only going to get better. They are active up front. Their linebacker, Kuechly - he may be the best linebacker in the country. You can stop the film on every play and somewhere he's in the picture. He's something special. Leads the country in tackles. He's relentless. We have our hands full with him. And No. 24 is sixth in the conference (in tackles).

But the focus is on us. We are going to prepare as hard as we can on us and see if we can take another step towards our goal.

Injury-wise, we are in pretty good shape. We do have a lot of guys beaten up. The only one that is definitely out is Spencer Benton. He's going to be out for a while. He fractured his shoulder. I'm hopeful we will get him back at some point. He's a guy we are definitely going to miss. We will take tomorrow to figure out who will be our kickoff guy. Dawson [Zimmerman] will be our holder. [Chandler] Catanzaro will be our backup punter. He's capable. Kickoff-wise Dawson and Catanzaro will be the guys we look at.

Are you adding to what Tajh can do from week to week?
Swinney: We do what we do. We did more naked (bootlegs) last week. They were effective. It was more play-action boots type of deal. We carry those. We just called it more with what they are doing. Some teams don't pursue as much from the backside so it's not as effective. We continue to open it up. We are doing a lot of same things we just have different ways of doing it. We have a big library of calls. We are right on track. Did not play great offensively last week. Tajh was a little off. Tough defense and a tough environment and the wind - we weren't quite as good but we made enough plays. We made the five or six plays we had to make to win the game.

B.C. changed their tendencies last year before playing you guys because they were so desperate. Do you expect them to do that for this game again?
Swinney: They are going to to do what they do. They didn't change a whole lot last year. They whipped us. Plain and simple. Not complicated. We lived in the red zone the whole game if y'all remember. We just kind of let them hang around and they made a big play on us and they whipped us.

You've said often this team has bought in to what you are selling. What's been different from this year to last?
Swinney: They bought in last year. We had a bad record but we weren't a bad team. Nobody last year was excited about playing Clemson last year - I can promise you. I saw a lot of love on our football team last year. I can promise you. Yes we had to fix some things and get better. But we had a lot of things that were starting to take root. But the biggest thing is we have outstanding leadership on our team and our staff. Those intangibles are very important to a football team. The accountability of this team and the leadership is better. We have better players. More weapons. We tried hard last year but we got a whole different dimension to us this year that we didn't have last year.

You talked about buying in from the outside of the program ... do you feel now that you have everybody all-in?
Swinney: I don't worry about that. I really don't. When I receive hate mail that I need to die or that the media is writing all of these bad things about me. It doesn't matter. I could care less about what people say about me and think about me. I just want to make a difference in these guys life. That's it.

Did you not have good staff chemistry on your staff last year?
Swinney: I didn't think we had quite the chemistry that we had last year that we have this year. That's my fault. It's my job to make sure we have the right kind of morale. Our team - we are more talented. We've recruited very well. We just have better chemistry. We didn't have bad chemistry last year. We had good people. That's not it at all. It was just my job to fix us. That's what you do every year at the end of the year. When it's all said and done, good or bad, you sit down and evaluate everything from a program standpoint and you keep moving forward. That's in business and in football.

Marion Hobby seems to be making a difference this year.
Swinney: He's tremendous. You've got a chance to get a guy like Marion Hobby to come in here. I'm thankful for Terry Don [Phillips] for helping me to get him here. He's a really good teacher and a really good recruiter. He's what you want in a football coach. He's a technical teacher of the position. He's got a great background from an NFL standpoint. He's very tough. Hard-nosed football coach. No nonsense kind of guy. Shows up every day with the same demeanor. Great person. Great wife. Daughters. The whole deal. Plus he's from Alabama. Birmingham boy.

How difficult or easy is it to get the team to ignore the positive or negative press you guys are hearing?
Swinney: It's a challenge in the world we live in. It used not to be as bad. A lot of players probably didn't pick up a newspaper. But it really is a challenge because they are social people. Twitter, internet and Facebook. That kind of stuff. It's a challenge. We've done a good job with it as a team and a staff. What they've bought in to, is that listen, we are Clemson. The outside is irrelevant. It's about us. If we will be about our work ethic we will change Clemson. You don't worry about what they are saying. We know what's going on. We are here every day. That's a challenge for young people. Not from me because I've been through it all - good and bad. But young people are still growing in that area. Our players have done a great job of blocking all of that out. They've bought into all the right things. So now when people are patting us on the back and telling us how great we are ... it's been a great teaching process for our team. That's why our leadership is so great this year. They've done a great job for our young players. All of that stuff is irrelevant. Here's why we are 5-0. Stay focused on our preparation.

Dabo you said in August this could be a work in progress early. Has there a player or a part of the team that have exceeded your expectations?
Swinney: I think that's proven to be true. But we are pretty much a work in progress. Our defense is getting better. We weren't very good the first two or three weeks. Offensively, we started out slow but then got it going. I felt like Tajh was really going to play well but I don't think I expected him to be where he is right now. He's been outstanding. I'm really proud of him. Sammy Watkins - I expected him to be great. And he's been great. Corey Crawford - statistically isn't flashy right now. But excited about him and his future. Tig Willard - there's a guy. He redshirts. Didn't play much as a redshirt freshman. Then gets hurt. Now the light has come on for this guy. A lot of guys who have stepped up in a lot of ways. Brandon Thomas. He's been a positive for us. Phillip Price - he's been oustanding. We have several guys that are a work in progress. Some of our young defensive tackles.

Do you feel like you have to self scout even more now that you have five games in the books and teams start to understand what you really want to do?
Swinney: Well we always self-scout. You do that to see what the defense is seeing. So we tweak. It's always the game within the game. But as far as what we do, we are going to do what we do. We are going to run the zone, the power and the sweep. We are going to have misdirection. Take shots. That's not going to change. We might do things a little differently from a presentation standpoint. And take advantage of tendencies that we are setting up.

So does that mean you'll get more reps for Mike Bellamy, who we haven't seen as much up to this point?
Swinney: Bellamy will see more snaps because he is earning that. We tried to get him going with a couple of packages early then we put him out there and we can't trust him. He's responded well. Obviously he can really spark a game. But if he continues to practice how he did last week and last night, you'll see his role increase. He's earned it and he can change the complexion of a game.

Back to the offense, Chad was saying yesterday he wants to get the point of instead of snapping of 15 to 18 seconds. To be able to go into the zone where you snap it even faster?
Swinney: Oh yeah. At times we have. First half we were OK. We were having a hard time to get Tajh getting that tempo going for us. Second half it was too many three and outs. Latter part of the game we were taking air out of the ball. That's an area where it's still a work in progress. Hopefully we can continue to be a good third down team. We want to get at least to 80 a game. We were close to that the other night. But Tajh has to drive that.

Brandon Thompson - he seems to be kind of off the national radar for as well as he's playing.
Swinney: He ain't off the radar from the National Football League. He's a great football player. Heart and soul of this defense. Doesn't say a lot but does on the field. He's a joy to be around every day. Very good player. Going to be a high draft pick. Plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He likes to play. He hates to come out. Every now and then he likes to have a little breather. In the past he would come out on our rabbits package but he's worked so hard for our pass rush. But not anymore. Our opponents know about him. Turn the film on - he stands out.

Will you use Homecoming as a motivator for your team?
Swinney: Yes. We lost Homecoming last year and it was miserable. You just don't lose Homecoming. Definitely will talk to our team about that. Already have. Big week on campus. Our students put a lot of effort in our projects and floats. We've got Tigerama. And we play at home. You should win at home.

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