Dabo previews S.C. State

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Clemson's matchup with S.C. State.

Opening statement...
Swinney: First of all, it was such a great weekend this past weekend. I cannot thank our fans enough. It was an unreal atmosphere environment. It really showcased the spirit of Clemson in a special way. Really happy for Coach Ford. Really neat to see President Barker be recognized. He's done a tremendous job and has been very supportive. It was also the first official game for Dan [Radakovich]. It was a lot of fun.

We have another opportunity to be back in the Valley this week. Every opportunity you get to play is special. You get 12 opportunties and every single one of them is special. I tell our players that and that's the same thing I will tell our fans. It's special. We only get seven of those. I hope this weekend will be another great environment.

S.C. State is a veteran team. They have seven guys back on offense and nine on defense. I have great respect for Coach Pough. They have a lot of great athletes.

Offensively, it starts with their quarterback. He can really run. He's an athletic guy. Defensively, they are multiple. They can go odd, odd stack, bear, four down. We have to do a great job communicating. They love tempo. They ran the ball 58 times last week. They really want to establish the running game. I know everybody looks at the schedule, and people think 'oh well- this is a I-AA team.' If you think that way you are going to get beat.

Just last week there were eight FCS schools that won. Ask Coach Snyder [at Kansas State]. If you play with low energy and turn it over and you aren't dialed in on your execution you get beat. Everybody for us is a faceless, nameless opponent. It's about playing to a standard. That way you don't have regrets.

There are two types of pain we talk about - the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. There's pain with both of them but one is a little bit better.

This is a great opportunity to grow our team and get better.

Where do you need to get better?
Swinney: We have to throw and catch better. We were very average last week with throwing and catching and finishing plays. That could have made a huge impact on the game. We have to get better there and we will be. We had several mental errors. We have to be a smarter team. We have things mentally that we have to get corrected. We have to clean up the muff on the punt return. We have to handle the ball with consistency. Two mental mistakes there by veteran players. We will work harder this week. Always trying to improve on tackling. We had a couple of missed tackles by good players. A lot of good, but a lot of things we can improve on. Our protection - we didn't do a good job. We have simple things we have to execute properly with twists. Our backs have to do a better job protecting. I want to see us play a clean game this week. Great passion and great energy.

Coach Morris said he wasn't pleased with Tajh's pace?
Swinney: He got a little slower as the game went on as far as getting his eyes to the sideline. Pushing tempo. He can get better there.

Consistency with their energy level - you've said your team has gotten better every year. Why has that happened?
Swinney: Recruiting. Change the culture through recruiting and graduation. Bottom line. Everybody who is in this program with here's the vision, here's the plan here's why we do it this way. It just goes to the culture. That doesn't mean we are perfect. Doesn't mean we won't lose a game. But consistency is what we want. We've grown guys up. We have an experienced football team. They expect to win. They get it. You don't get it overnight. It takes time. Four years ago we started a process.

Do you think it will be tough to match emotion from last weekend this weekend against S.C. State?
Swinney: Again, if we only play with emotion against Georgia because of GameDay then we are never going to have the kind of success we want. I don't care who the opponent is. Think about all that you do - grinding with the weight room and meetings and practice. None of that other stuff matters. You should be excited to play.

What was the story behind Carlos Watkins starting and where is he right now?
Swinney: We've got five guys at d-tackle that we see as starters. They all play a bunch. It's a great situation for us from a competitive standpoint. We didn't make the decision until Thursday or Friday night. Grady [Jarrett] has really separated himself going into camp and he played really well the other night. Those other four were kind of battling for that other spot. Carlos, we felt like he deserved to run out there first - based on everything. D.J. [Reader] didn't play quite as much because he didn't practice as well and had a couple of missed opportunities in the game. It's a great situation for us to be in though. I thought they performed very well.

Will Chad Kelly play Saturday if the situation arises?
Swinney: Sure. Yeah. He was ready to play last Saturday. Cole is our second-team guy. Same thing this weekend. And also same thing with Sam Cooper. He'll play this week.

What's the latest with Tyshon Dye?
Swinney: Different situation. Probably longer. There's a certain time frame you go by when you have an epidural. The thing is you don't want him to have surgery because that's a three or four month type of deal. Doctor wants to wait and make another assessment, maybe another three or four weeks. At this point it's probably best that we hold him.

Do you think Mackensie Alexander will play?
Swinney: We cut him loose yesterday. We will push him all week and rep him and hopefully he'll play Saturday. We are very hopeful. He looks good. Feels good.

Can you go over the Ben Boulware play from the other night?
Swinney: That situation, first of all, shouldn't have happened. Really poor awareness on our returners part. We have to field that ball No. 1. The second thing a young player like Ben Boulware, knowing where he is and knowing the ball is rolling. He's just full of vinegar. He's a smart player and he gets hit from behind. Referees are chasing Adam [Humphries]. If you review it, you could have called that he was hit in the back. Dead ball. And first down on the 20-yard line. But it was bang-bang. Not everything gets seen. That's just the nature of football. Our officials did a fantastic job on both sides. They aren't perfect either and sometimes you don't see everything. The play was what it was and we are very lucky that C.J. Jones had the presence of mind to pick it up. Technically it should have been a dead ball because he was blocked into the ball.

Do you look at other pass catchers with some of the drops you had particularly with Charone and Martavis?
Swinney: No, no. Charon had a great game. Martavis had a rough night. But Martavis Bryant, just like we weren't going to fire Brandon Ford after a really poor performance against Auburn, we aren't going to fire Martavis. All of it goes hand in hand. Early in the game Tajh wasn't as sharp as he needed to be. We had six drops so if he was 24-of-30 that would have been a great night.

So no more Mike Williams?
Swinney: No. Mike Williams is on the depth chart where he's earned to be. Our depth chart is determined by a lot more than one play. Martavis just had a bad night. I remember a few years ago Dwayne Wade hit about 3 points at the Pacers and then he went off for 35 the next night. So. He'll be fine. Y'all will be asking me different questions about Martavis before too long.

You coached wide receivers. What do you tell Martavis?
Swinney: Go back to work. Don't overreact. Go back to fundamentals on film. What could you have done different with technique?

Do you like playing the in-state schools like this?
Swinney: I think if you are going to play one opponent like that a year I think it's great you can play a team from your state and keep that money in-state. That helps our students in this state get more opportunities that's a positive.

Tajh Boyd was listed as the No. 1 candidate on Heisman Pundit. Anything change with how you view your quarterback and his season when you hear something like this?
Swinney: Answer is exactly the same. We've played one game. One game doesn't make a season. If they are going to announce the Heisman this weekend, he's got a great shot. I need to get my tux ready. Potential is based on what you can do. But that's really all it is. You have the ability to do something - great. Performance is based on what you actually do. We've got great potential as a football team but that's only on paper and what we can do. This is a game based on performance. Not potential. You love for your people to be recognized. It's not a story. Tajh has a Heisman campaign- Georgia, S.C. State, N.C. State, Syracuse and so on and so forth.


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