Swinney: Another tough challenge this week with North Carolina. This is a good football. They are as good as anybody we've played up to this point. They are a hair away from being 7-0. Capable. Lot of talent. Bunch of NFL players on their roster. Bunch of guys that we have recruited on both sides of the ball. Really good team. They are playing hard. They don't give up. Coach Withers has done a great job and they are very well coaches and well coordinated on both sides.
When you look at their offense- they are an NFL style team and they are very balanced. Their style of play- they are a ball control type of team that wants to keep the ball from you if you can. That hurt us last year. They had the ball 13 minutes and 14 seconds in the fourth quarter. And that was a problem. You can't turn it over against them. And they create problems because they do some shifts - a lot of motions. You have get your gaps coordinated and get your guys in the right place. They'll bunch which makes you zone some things which gets you out of rhythm.
Plus their offensive line is huge. They are big and very athletic. Very good group that plays physical. Quarterback has been outstanding - leads the league in efficiency. No picks the last couple of games. Their running back is a freshman and he's very very good. Houston, his backup is a really good player.
Bernard (RB) has had four or five straight rushing games. And they have as good as receivers as we are going to play. Across the board. They have veteran guys and young guys. 83 is a great player. 88 and 87 - they make plays. Jheranie Boyd can fly. He's averaging over 10 yards per carry too. Talented group.
Defensively, again, as good as we've played, their front four will all be playing on Sunday. Even their backups too. Brown leads them in tackles at linebacker. 48 in the middle there is a really good player. They are starting a new guy in the middle this week and we know him very well because we recruited him. Just a good football team. They have dangerous returners. Another freshman for them, No. 5- he leads the league in kick returns. We have to do a great job with their coverage.
But glad to be back home. Good to be back in Death Valley this week. One of the things I will say is that we need our crowd to be rocking. If there's a game we need our crowd to show up - it's this week. This is a difficult place to play when the crowd is rocking. It's like playing with 12 people. Want to challenge our fan base to get up, dress up and show up. Let's have that place as good as it's been all year long.
|"This is a difficult place to play when the crowd is rocking. It's like playing with 12 people. Want to challenge our fan base to get up, dress up and show up."|
Is Mike Bellamy still on the team?
Swinney: Yes. He's absolutely with the team. He's here. If he wasn't here I promise you I'd let you know. He practiced well last night and expect him to practice well today. He's a young player and he's got some maturing to do. It's our job to teach him.
What's the issue with him?
Swinney: I think there's a lot of structure here. A lot of discipline here. No grey area. Sometimes that's difficult for young people to take on when your maturity isn't where it needs to be. That's part of the process. He's a good young man. And that's what this program is about - coaching life. It's not just coaching ball. When it's all said and done, if he'll stick with it, he'll leave better than he is right now. He's not there yet. He's kind of your typical freshman. The transition not as easy as some for others. He's a young player that wants to play more. Nothing wrong with that. I want guys who want to play more, but you have to earn it. He's really not a problem. We had a little deal the last week where we sat him down the first half.
Do you feel comfortable he'll stay with the program?
Swinney: Yes. I feel comfortable.
Don't you think he should be happy given the team is winning? He was on his cell phone after the game Saturday when the rest of the team was celebrating.
Swinney: He should be. He should be really happy. He's a very blessed young man. Must have been an important phone call. We handle things within this team concept here. It's dealt with. Everything is addressed. But he's not disrespectful or anything like that. Let's be careful that. He's a profile guy that people paying attention to.
Can you talk about the quarterback containment issues you had against Maryland?
Swinney: First of all give Maryland a lot credit. That guy can fly. I want to give Brown some credit. He did a fantastic job. He took advantage of us being undesciplined in our rush lanes. And to be honest with you, he just beat us a couple of times. He was better at times. And to be honest again, we hadn't seen a lot of him. They had a great game plan. We didn't do a good job spotting them 14 points right out of the gate.
Will you get Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony on the field more in the coming weeks to help your defense?
Swinney: I think you'll see both of those guys continue to see time. Tony is a guy that's a work in progress. Anthony is a guy you'll see more in our nickel situations. He brings a different dimension to us at the MIKE. I think he can help us.
What's going on with Justin Parker?
Swinney: He's hurt right now. I'm a little worried about him this week. Other than that he's doing fine. Still a young player and developing into a really good player. He's doing a great job on special teams and playing 20 to 25 snaps per game in that area. We haven't had a lot of true, regular personnel type games. But a very good player and we think he's got a good future. Right now banged up and hurt and probably questionable Hamstring.
You talked about Sammy's work ethic last week. Can you talk about his hands?
Swinney: Looks like spiderman out there doesn't he? It's unbelievable. He's got great hands. And he attacks the football. That's one of the qualities that makes him special. He doesn't sit around and wait on it. Great body control. You put that type of mentality with body control and incredibly gifted hands and strong fingers. He's something else. He's special.
Dabo Swinney compared his star freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins to Spiderman during Tuesday's press conference previewing North Carolina. (Roy Philpott).
Swinney: How about (Phillip) Price. All you wrote him off. That guy has made us a good offense. He's been our most consistent player on the offensive line. A lot of that goes to the fact we moved him last year and we were very patient with him. He had never played offensive line. But he learned from Chris Hairston - a great player. He's become one of our smartest players. He knows what's going on. He sees it. He gives us great information coming off the team. If there's a walk-on having the impact of this guy I'd like to see him. I think he's got a chance to play on Sunday. That's the kind of impact he's made. Brandon Thomas has really come on. That's been a big, big positive. He's finally decided he wants to be a good football player. He's preparing. He's studying. It's allowed us to develop depth on the offensive line. Because now we've got some options. We've got a good solid group that we can move around as situations present themselves.
Dalton is just outstanding. He's a great leader. It all starts with 55. His snaps are on the money. He has to do more than anybody. You can just count on him. He loves to play. He's a coach's son and it's like having a coach out there every single play. It's like taking Robbie Caldwell and whipping him into shape and putting him out there.
Big mac (Antoine McClain) he's strong. He's a big man. We probably need to do a better job of rotating our guys in there the rest of the season. He's had some critical blocks. He'll make a mistake and then come back right away and correct it.
Landon Walker - you get every ounce of Landon Walker for every practice, every meeting and every game. Some of those guys are going to be playing after Clemson and Landon is one of them. He's a great leader for this team. From where he's come from to where he is right now is amazing. Proud of him. As a redshirt freshman he was not a very good player. It wasn't pretty. But he has gone against some great great defensive players at Clemson. Some men every single day.
With the success you are having right now does it help you even more with recruiting?
Swinney: Absolutely. Any time you have success it affects a lot of things. Young people see your brand on television and they see that paw, they might like you a little bit more. It's important you build a good program and do things the right way. You handle adversity the right way and success the right way. We are recruiting very well. We'll try to take advantage of our success in every way possible. Sometimes you aren't in it with a guy and then you are. So we'll see how that goes.
You always talk about the turnover margin. How do you feel like you are doing this year on that front?
Swinney: I was disappointed at Maryland because we lost the turnover margin for the first time. We've had a couple of costly turnovers. It's one thing to turn it over. It's another when it's points the other way. Just keep doing what we've been doing. Defensively we've done a good job but we've left a few on the table. We have to get a little more stingy.
Is North Carolina's defensive line as good as you'll face this year?
Swinney: They'll be as good as any team we face. FSU is talented. Virginia Tech. But everyone of these guys is going to play on Sundays.
Do you have a policy gatoraide baths after the game?
Swinney: (laughing) No we don't have a policy, but maybe we should you let you write one Bart. But you know what? Hey- they can give me a Gatoraide bath whenever they want to because that means we are winning.
Noon kickoffs- do you have to work harder to get your team motivated for early kickoffs?
Swinney: No. I think this team is beyond that. We've played a lot of noon games. We go on the road to play a lot of night games. I don't know how that stuff works. But you can't allow things you don't control to impact your performance. If it's raining you have to play well. If it's freezing you have to play well. If it's noon you have to play. You step on the field and you have to be ready. We have a process to get them ready. It's all the way up to the hotel when they arrive (night before the game). We played Auburn at noon and we had a great crowd and it was a great day. You only have 12 games.