Dabo previews Boston College

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney meets with the media for his weekly press conference.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Speaking of Boston College. Big challenge. Huge challnge for us, especially coming off a disappointing loss. Everybody knows we have won only one time. And the one we won was a wild one. The big thing is I want to see our team respond like a champion. A lot of people thought we may have a let down after the Auburn game the next week against Ball State and Furman. This week is kind of the opposite of that.

Their offense, very impressed. This is not your typical Boston College team. It's been a long time since we've seen them lead the league in passing. Quarterback is leading the league in total offense. He's got a big arm. Knows the offense with their screens and play-action. They mix their drops up with the shotgun and under center. Typical guys up front - big. 6-7 type guys. Their running backs are a couple of pounders. They check it down to them a lot in the flats. They check it down on the line of scrimmage with the lead draw fake. No. 83, their receiver, leads the league. He's a baller. They screen it to him plus posts and slants. He's a very good football player. Then they have a guy on the other side of him who is 6-4, 6-5. He's dangerous because of his size.

Now they are also a tempo team. There were so many times when they played Miami where Miami wasn't even lined up. That's a challenge for us.

Defensively not much has changed. They are a base 4-3. Very little has changed with personnel. They know where they are supposed to be. They do a great job of recognition. One of their ends is 6-8. They bat a lot of balls and are a zone pressure team. They usually have some guy leading the league in tackles and they do again. They've got three guys leading the league now. They are one, two and four in the league in tackles. No. 1 in field goals and No. 3 in punting.

They've had an open date. This is a big challenge and as big of a week as we've had all year. I want to see our team respond like a champion and find a way to win on the road.

Also - it's Tajh's birthday. So shout out to him for his birthday.

You mentioned Tajh's birthday, obviously he had a player's meeting yesterday. How do you feel about that?
Swinney: I think it's great. He's not just the quarterback, he's the leader. That's what you want to see. I was anxious to see how they would respond yesterday. We have a lot of guys who are in that role for the first time. They weren't happy. They were disappointed. We watched the tape. We had a "here's what happened" video and let's go improve. We are the same team that had a really good team on the road down 14 and didn't finish it. Those guys are still here. We know we are capable of being a good football team. That was one game. We have so much opportunity to have a very very good season. We are just in September. Hopefully we'll see a lot of growth in these next few weeks and we certainly have to have it because we are not a great team right now. But I like how they responded yesterday. You could see hurt in their eyes and they care. Nobody hurts worse than the players. They put in all the work and the time. So much time that people don't ever see. It's a long season. Just like Monday Night Football last night. The Packers have to move on.

The missed tackles - what went wrong?
Swinney: Mostly not wrapping up. Brewer absolutely unloaded on a guy but he didn't wrap up. He literally ran through the guy that was a big strong back - No. 32. You have to wrap up on him - just like Andre ELlington against Auburn. They didn't wrap up. You aren't going to just knock good backs down. You ahve to wrap guys up and get to their legs.

The breakdowns on defense- is that something you've seen in practice?
Swinney: No we really have practiced well. It's hard to simulate that game speed until you get there. Sometimes it's like a rash- it can spread quick. You look up and you have 10 missed tackles. We have to give the other team some credit too. That's the worst we've been. We've practiced well. Brent works tackling everyday. Have to do it on game day.

High-tempo offenses the last few years, typicaly the defenses struggle. What's a reasonable expectation of a defense when it's paired with an up-tempo offense like you have?
Swinney: You know, again, that's a question that's been asked before and I don't know the answer to that. All know is you have a job to do when you are on the field. We haven't played too many snaps defensively at all. There's not enough to really warrant an answer to that. Maybe down the road. We want to control the ball and we've done a pretty good job of that this year. We aren't playing 90 snaps a game defensively. It's a problem if you are three-and-out, three-and-out and three-and-out. We haven't done a lot of that this year. We've gotten first downs and that's a huge part of what we do. We had a chance to finish the game on defense, special teams and offense - there's no pointing fingers. But nobody stepped up and got it done. Long touchdown run - the long shuffle pass and they cut it to seven. Then we are up 10 here and get a stop. We felt like we were in control of the game and then a 90 yard run and it slips away. You can't give a team like that something like that on the road. Then we have a three-and-out. We needed somebody to answer. I like what we are doing, I like where we are but we obviously have to improve and I think we will. We'll see where we are down the road. We won a championship last year and we are 3-1 right now and we have a chance to greatly improve the rest of the season.

Did you see the holding call? (Andre Ellington's screen pass that was negated)
Swinney: It's one of those calls where it didn't impact the play but he definitely grabbed the jersey. I had no problem with the call.

Does it bother you that your offense needed to play perfectly to win?
Swinney: That's football. Sometimes the defense feels like it has to play perfectly. Two years ago they gave up just one touchdown down there. Give credit to Florida State. They are a good team.

Was there any pointing fingers at all after that game?
Swinney: Oh no. Not at all.

Defensively are you surprised at where you are?
Swinney: No. I think we got some guys probably aren't quite ready to be the guys yet but they are. And that's OK. They are going to get better. We have good talent but we have some maturing to do. A lot of teaching. Nothing's better than experience. That's what you lose when you lose Branch, Thompson and Kourtnei Brown. It's a new group that is transitioning.

Xavier Brewer is back at cornerback. How much are you missing Martin Jenkins?
Swinney: We are really missing Martin Jenkins. He was a key guy for us last year. He's powerful. Very fast. Really challenge guys. We do miss him. We don't have a lot of trustworthy depth right now. We are going to get there.

Are you done recruiting cornerbacks in this next recruiting class?
Swinney: We are definitely looking for defensive backs in this class. We aren't done yet.

The other day you said Spencer Benton was a little tired so you put Pinion out there. Will you use Pinion more now?
Swinney: I didn't think he was tired he just didn't hit the ball good. But listen, the ball landed on the goal line and we didn't cover the kick. We had no problems kicking the ball out of the end zone and then we did. Benton just miss-hit it. Pinion did too after he bombed one into the seats.

Is the plan for Hall and Meeks to be the answer for you at both safeties spot?
Swinney: I think you'll continue to see a combination of all of those guys. Meeks has been our most consistent. They have all had good moments and they've all had bad moments too.

Just to clarify- you like the offensive line talent you have now?
Swinney: I do. I really do. That game the other night is a great confidence builder for Giff Timothy. That's as good a guy as he's going to go against. We are in pretty good shape. Our confidence in that will be reflected in our signing class this year.


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