Dabo previews Furman

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney looks ahead to this weekend's game against Furman.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Well, first of all we are 2-0 and off to a good start and we are excited about that. Want to see us improve, that's the biggest thing for me. I thought it would be three or four weeks before we settle in. THat's kind of where we are right now. We have another opportunity to grow our team a little bit more.

Furman- I'm very impressed when you watch them on tape. Have a ton of respect for Coach Fowler. I know they are 0-2 but if you watch the games they could easily be 2-0. Hard fought loss at Samford and then a tough triple overtime loss to Coastal Carolina. They've turned it over quite a bit. It's a football team that is quite capable. Offensively they want to run the ball. They do a lot of stuff. They went to Florida the last game of the season and put up 35 points on them. Used the triple option and put up a lot of offense. There's a lot of things we have to prepare for in this game. They do want to run the ball. Look forward to that matchup and that challenge.

Their defense is an athletic group. More athletic than Ball State. They have eight starters back on defense and seven back that are seniors. Very experienced group over there. They know what they are doing. We have to play well.

Big thing for us is we are back at home for a 3:09 kickoff. Great opportunity for our state for the Furman folks. Great crowd I'm expecting Saturday. Our fans do a great job in creating a good environment for us. Obviously this is also a reminder that today is 9-11. I'm sure everybody remembers what they were doing that day. I know that I certainly do. It's something that I should never forget. It's something that our country should never forget. Kind of puts it in perspective. I know there are a lot of people where this day brings up difficult thoughts and our prayers are with those people.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?
Swinney: That was my first season out of coaching. I was driving from Tuscaloosa and I was driving to Birmingham and going to work. They interrupted the broadcast and I couldn't believe it. Then I got to work and everything just shutdown. There was nothing. We were all mesmerized by the television and nobody knew what was going on. It was a surreal moment in our country's lifetime.

How did David Beasley, Giff Timothy look yesterday?
Swinney: Pretty good. I'm pretty optimistic with those guys for this weekend. I'll be able to give you a better update tomorrow night. I was pretty optimistic yesterday.

Getting Sammy back - what does it mean and how excited are you he's playing finally?
Swinney: He's excited. He really is. He's had such a great attitude and he's such a great example on how to lead the right way. I told him yesterday we are 2-0 Sammy, don't mess it up. I would think you see him pretty early and have him show up pretty soon. He needs to play a good bit. He needs to get that good game under his belt like these guys have gotten. It was good to have him last week on the sideline.


Sammy Watkins will see the field for the first time this season Saturday against Furman. (Roy Philpott)
Do you try to get Sammy Watkins a certain number of touches?
Swinney: Not really. We keep a touch chart on the sideline and it's something I pay attention to by the quarter. It's usually not an issue. He's usually in the forefront of all of our thoughts. He's a special player. And he's going to return punts and kicks and do everything.

Florida State is going to be a night game down there and everybody is already talking about it. How do you keep your team focused on Furman?
Swinney: Well, that's something we can't just address now. That's something we have to address in the offseason when you are meeting with your guys. They have to be able to focus today. We have to win today. Today's Tuesday. We have to win today. We get this segment of the game plan down then we move on. We talk a lot about not looking ahead. When you do, you falter. We can't do that. I'm sure there were a lot of people that expected us to be flat last week or whatever. But we've matured. That's why you have leadership. It's key. That has to keep the focus on the task at hand. You only have 12 Saturdays.

As far as Sammy goes - will he return punts?
Swinney: Yes. I don' know how much he's going to mean to punt return because we can't ever get a return. There are few returns in the game today. You don't get many opportunities. When he gets one it will mean a lot. Same thing on kick returns. I doubt many people will purposefully kick it to him. If they do, we'll have a chance for a big play. He'll have a little more rope to where he can bring it out (if it's deeper).

Have you noticed with Sammy on the scout team - has he still be engaged in the offense?
Swinney: Oh yeah. He's been great. He worked the work before game week and then game week. He worked two weeks of the scout team before Auburn. He's doing good. Knows his stuff. Very smart player. That's why he had such great success early.

You mentioned the maturity of this football team. Did anybody help him through this specifically? (Sammy)
Swinney: All of his teammates in general. These guys support each other. It's a family. My family, your family, we all have issues. Sometimes you don't like what people's decisions were but you love them anyway and you try to help them through it. Really hasn't been a distraction at all.

With Sammy back how much more explosive can you be?
Swinney: I really like our team. Charone Peake is going to be a great player for us. Adam Humphries same thing. Martavis Bryant led our team in all-purpose yards this past weekend. Good to see him get on the board with that nice touchdown play. Jaron is just steady-Eddie. You can always count on him. All of those guys are just a close group. Sammy? You plug him on the field and that makes us that more explosive.

55 plays in the first half and 87 in week one. What's the conditioning level of this team compared to three years ago?
Swinney: We are a different group compared to three years ago. We practice different. To run this system you have to practice this way all the time. You can't just get into the game and flip a switch. Mentally we understand so much more. I've been pretty pleased with our conditioning with that kind of stuff.

What about the training table- has that impacted your conditioning in a helpful way?
Swinney: Not yet. It's too soon. It's going to make an impact. We are in the process of hiring a nutritionist yet which is going to happen any moment. We are still doing one meal a day. It was a great thing to have during training camp. It was awesome. That's one of the big talks right now in college football with deregulation of things. We over-train them but we under-nourish them. It's a huge part of their performance. Hopefully that's something we've learned where we've been counterproductive. Hopefully that will happen.

Besides getting Sammy going and getting improvement against the run, what other areas woud you like to see improvement in?
Swinney: Penalties. We were the most penalized team in the game Saturday. We've got to improve. We have to be the least penalized team. We were the superior team Saturday and we were able to overcome that. That's not always going to be the case. We've had a couple of weeks where we've had a few of those pre-snap penalties. We've had bobbled balls. Tajh has to finish everything with his eyes. Basic things that have to be corrected so we don't cost ourselves down the road. And drops. Too many drops. We have to make the routine catches all the time.

Would also be great to get Andre Ellington out of the game early?
Swinney: Well that would be great but we are coming to win. If it works out and that happens, great. You can't go any game assuming that. We were hoping to rest some guys against Wofford last year too and how did that work out? This is a big deal for Furman and to have an opportunity to play in Death Valley. It's a big deal. Furman is well-coached just like Wofford was and it was all we wanted and then some. I'd be surprised if Furman really doesn't give us a challenge. They are going to play us with a ton of toughness and a ton of pride. We have to play well.


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