Sunday teleconference transcript

The ACC Championship coaches teleconference with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.

Opening statement...
Swinney: We are excited about representing our division in the ACC Championship game. Obviously we're playing for an opportunity to go to the Discover Orange Bowl. We're coming off a tough loss last night. Very disappointed in how we played, obviously. We've got to turn the page quickly. Big picture-wise, we're a 9-3 football team.

It's an honor to be in this game. There's 12 teams in this league and we've got a chance to play for the league title. That's what we've got to focus on, and try to correct some of these mistakes and play better football. That's going to be a big, big challenge, because Virginia Tech is a very good football team that's had a great year. It should be a classic up in Charlotte.

Where do you think you guys have suffered here the last three or four weeks?
Swinney: It started with turnovers. That's been the biggest thing the last four ball games...that's where it starts. We just have not done some of the things well that we were doing well. We're missing some plays. We're not protecting quite as well. There's a combination of things. We've got a few guys that aren't playing quite as well as they were early in the season.

Big picture-wise, we certainly didn't finish the way we wanted to. We finished with the second best record in this league. We're 9-3. We've earned the right to play for the league title. That's what we're focusing on -- these four quarters. We can't do anything about what's happened. We're focusing on Virginia Tech. We know a lot about them. They know a lot about us, having played already this year. But that game is irrelevant to this one. We've just have to get our team's confidence back and get their focus back on execution, fundamentals and technique, try to get back to playing winning football. Right now, we're not doing that.

Have you had a chance to look at them since you guys went up to Blacksburg?
Swinney: I've seen them a couple of times since we played them. I saw the Miami game. That was kind of a shootout, right after us. Then, I saw the Wake Forest film, because we played them. Saw the Georgia Tech since that was a Thursday night game, so I got a chance to see a little of that. They really improved. The North Carolina game was a knockdown drag out for them. They've really gotten better. The quarterback's really playing at a high level. Really, really doing a good job for them running and throwing.

That game seems like a really long time ago. They've won all their games on the road. We won all our games at home. It's kind of a tale of two different stories right now. Regardless of what's happened, you play your whole season to jockey for the best post-season opportunity that you can have. We both earned the right to be in this game. It's irrelevant what we've done, good or bad. It's about this game Saturday night and trying to find a way to win. That's what we're going to do.

Where would you say Tajh's confidence is now?
Swinney: I would say he's not playing with the confidence that he was at that time. The pressure, the sacks have been a problem and then the turnovers. All of those things effect him. He's a young player. He was a first-year starter, everything's going perfect for him, all of a sudden he has some mistakes. He's got to fight his way through it. That's just part of the growing pains of having a young quarterback. It's disappointing, but we've got to do a good job this week making sure we give him a chance, making sure our protection is sure up.

Is the short passing game something that needs to be incorporated back into this offense?
Swinney: We've got to take what's there. Then we've got to support him with our running game and play-action game where you support him with some of your easier throws. That's a big part of it, too. When we've been at our best, that's what was going on. We've kind of gotten a little away from that.


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