Dabo previews Wake Forest

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews No. 3 Clemson's game against Wake Forest.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Glad to get back on a normal schedule this week. The next six weeks we have a normal schedule. Today will be a typical Tuesday type practice to get acclimated to our normal routine. Homecoming week is always special. Really appreciate the student body here and the energy they bring. The Homecoming floats are really special.

Wake Forest is 2-2. Well coached as always. Two years ago they came in here and we had to kick the game winning field goal. Our guys have to have a great week of preparation. This is an opportunistic team.

Offensively. They've done a lot in four games. They've presented a lot of different things from a play-calling standpoint. From the option to the spread and everything that comes with that. Price is back at quarterback and Harris is a guy that's been around for a long time for them. He's a very good player.

You have to have a good plan for Campanaro. He's caught 16 passes in one game. Two years ago he also returned a punt against us (for a touchdown). We've got to handle him.

Defensively they have seven starters back and it all starts with [Nikita] Whitlock up front. No. 50. I thought he was gone. He is a nightmare. He's a really good football player. He was the ACC defensive lineman of the week with Vic Beasley. He's not as tall as they list him, not as big as they list him but he plays big.

They play an odd front. They will slide into some even front as well. Linebackers are good players. This secondary is as good as they've played. No. 7 and No. 9 are three year starters. Their eye discipline is unmatched. Big challenge for our guys competing against them.

Special teams - No. 3. Look out for him.

Looking forward to getting back to the Valley this week.

Couple of discipline issues: Isaiah Battle situation - everybody knows that situation. Martavis Bryant with his gesture that we didn't even know about until afterwards. His playing time will be reduced. But he'll play. Giff Timothy is questionable with the concussion. Carlos Watkins is definitely questionable. We aren't really counting on him at this point. Patrick DeStefano is dealing with some stingers in his neck. He's also questionable for this game.

The challenges of missing players. How have your guys responded to not only the injuries but the suspension and then with Carlos Watkins' car wreck?
Swinney: I thought they showed back up ready to go. The biggest thing is the opportunity to reinforce to these guys how fragile life is. Nobody knows when your time is up and make sure you are prepared for that. Be careful. We stress that all the time with these guys. It was a really really bad wreck that Carlos [Watkins] was involved in. He's better for it. His cousin didn't make it. Carlos had his seat belt on and was pinned in the car for two hours. It's a miracle he didn't have any broken bones. Hopefully we can get him back today and get him going and he can get back to feeling good. But thoughts and prayers with him and his family. He's also Dane Rogers' cousin as well.

The reduction of playing time for Bryant... makes you a little thinner at wide receiver doesn't it?
Swinney: We'll be fine. I really like how Mike Williams is coming on.

What will you say to Carlos when you see him?
Swinney: First thing I will do is hug his neck. I'm just glad to have him back. There's emotion involved. I want to hug him and tell him how happy I am to see him. Same thing with Dane. He lost a family member as well.

The strength of your defensive line appears legitimate. You said you saw this coming, right?
Swinney: I remember telling you guys that day at the golf tournament and you all looked at me like I was crazy. I really like our guys up front. They are becoming the strength of our team. When you can be really good on the defensive line, it can cover up a lot of issues. Especially when you have depth. We've got depth, talent and experience up front for the first time since I've been a head coach. We are creating pressure. And that creates turnovers. Our defense

What about Vic Beasley and how he has grown?
Swinney: It's really amazing. If you would have told me two years ago that he was a leader up front that would have been hard to believe at the time. It's another classic example of growth. Sometimes guys don't always buy in as quickly as we would like. If they stick with it they'll get there. Vic played running back in high school. Played quarterback. He comes here and we looked at him as a tight end. I moved him to linebacker that spring and he just didn't take to it as well. Then we moved him to defensive end and I told him I thought he could be special. And he kind of looked at me. I told him during camp last fall, that hey, I will make a deal with you. If you don't have a good year and you don't have a future there then I will move you back to running back and you can run the ball. Then we saw how he developed last year. He developed so much confidence. That's what a little bit of success will do for people. Then he started adding weight. He's 235 now and he's still emerging. We get another 10-12 pounds on him and he's going to continue to get better. He's a different guy and now a fourth year junior that has matured. He's a full-grown man. And he's doing it in the running game too. People don't realize that.

Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey have played well for you right? Are they living up to expectations?
Swinney: Yeah. We are 3-0 and they are a real reason why. Spencer has missed a couple of tackles. They are both playing at a really high level for us. People are recognizing their play. Stephone has really taken another step forward and is having a great year for us. Shuey in particular the other night on the edge that if he doesn't make that tackle there's some grass. He's a heckuva player.

Wake Forest has thrown a lot of different things at poeple?
Swinney: At B.C. they ran a lot of option. Not as much option against Monroe and Army. They run a lot of trap plays. They control guys up front. They are in and out of different formations and personnel groupings. 10, 11, 21 and 20 personnel groups. They've presented a lot of different challenges. They are giving themselves the best chance to win each week. Good experience at quarterback. Young up front.

What goes into the Mackensie Alexander decision to redshirt or actually play?
Swinney: The biggest thing is our guys are playing really good. The big thing is I haven't had the chance to evaluate him. I can't evaluate him until he can compete. I'm excited about the procedure they are doing on Thursday because this is what is holding him up from progressing like he needs to. Also - it's not like we have to have him to play. By that time he's missed five or six games. What's best for them too? He'll have a lot of input in to that. But if he's healthy, can he compete? We haven't had a chance to fairly evaluate that. He's been in meetings and practice everyday and that kind of stuff.

Shaq Lawson is a guy that has made plays the other night. What's your assessment of him?
Swinney: Before the Georgia came to me and said, 'hey I've got three starters with Vic, Corey Crawford and Shaq.' I said well if it's a tie than it goes to the veterans. I said well I want to see that go from the practice field to game day. To be honest, he was tied with Vic and I told him that. It's fun to watch. This guy is a special talent. In my opinion he might be the best guy we've signed (on the defensive line) since I've been here. His upside is tremendous. Another thing about Shaq is he loves to practice. Always smiling. Brings a lot of energy and emotion to the field.

How enjoyable is it to actually talk about your defense winning games?
Swinney: Love it. I will take 11 more wins like we just had. Right now. It's great. When you play great defense ... it's just like basketball it's not always going to go in the bucket for you. Sooner or later you'll get it going. It's like having a great pitcher going out there. Sooner or later the other team is going to make you play. Our defense is getting better. We are much better after three games this year compared to last year. Our guys are hungry. They want it. We just have more knowledge than we've had. And we are healthier. Getting Martin Jenkins back has been huge for us. Breeland is night and day. Really like our safeties and they are still growing into their roles. The biggest area of the team where we need to grow is depth at safety. We got guys. But we have to really develop that depth.

Is there any benefit to playing all of your division games before you play teams from the Coastal?
Swinney: If you win 'em. It's great. Then you got a tie breaker in your back pocket. That's really the only thing. We are all trying to get Charlotte. Right now we are just trying to get 4-0.

What's your aggravation level with Martavis right now given what he did in the second half and then the gesture?
Swinney: Continue to grow up. Listen, he's been good. Just one of those situations. I wish the refs would have caught it. I didn't see it. He'll be fine. I don't think he'll do it again.

Tajh Boyd- where is he? He obviously didn't have the kind of first half you wanted against N.C. State and Chad Morris challenged him yesterday. What do you a tell a player of his caliber who may be pressing some?
Swinney: Just back to the fundamentals. Back to the basics. I was texting Tajh last night about Peyton Manning. This guy here is just toying with them. But that's the type of ownership you want at that position. Our expectations are monstrous for him. And hey, it's early. Yeah he missed a few plays early in the game on the road in a tough environment. He had a couple of missed reads. We had some mistakes by other people too. He came back and played lights out. There was a point in the game, where I was like, alright, here we go. You won the game, so what a great opportunity it is to teach. We've found different ways to win. I think we have a chance to be a complete team by the end of the season. And complete teams find ways to win. But Tajh has done great. He's taking care of the football. For the most part making good decisions. He's made a lot of plays with his legs. He's not going to get worse.


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