Dabo previews The Citadel

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews No. 7 Clemson's matchup with the Bulldogs.

Opening statement...
Swinney: This is a special week for us and for everybody associated with our program. It's a great thrill and honor to recognize the efforts and sacrafices our military have made for us. And it's senior day. It's a really special time that gets frozen in time.

What a special group this is. This has been a very special group to coach and be around the last four or five years. These guys are leaving quite a legacy here at Clemson.

The Citadel has won three in a row. This is their last game. This is their bowl game if you will. They are 5-6 but five of their six losses have been by less than a touchdown. They have competed very hard which is indicative of head coach Kevin Higgns. He reminds me a lot of Jack Leggett. Great guy. Great family man. Great role model.

Offensively, same thing from last week. Triple option. They are a little different with formations and they will use their tight end a little bit more. Their senior quarterback has right at 1,000 yards. Their running back does too. Defensively it's a four man front. They had nine starters back on defense this year. All of the secondary and linebackers are back and they are near the top of their conference in all of the defensive categories.

Their secondary coach is Gerald Dixon. Back in 1998 when I was coaching at Alabama and I went to Maryland to recruit Darnell Dockett. When I got up there I fell in love with their quarterback - is name was Gerald Dixon. He was mostly a quarterback and he signed with us and Darnell signed with Florida State. And he was a four-year starter for us and now he's the secondary coach for The Citadel.

Biggest thing with us this week is to continue to improve and to play our best football in the month of November. We sold out the South Carolina State game and we sold out The Citadel game. I think that is an accomplishment right there. And a great credit to our fans. That to me is really exciting.

It's a purple out. Military Appreciation Day. Senior Day. And it's also President Barker's last day in Death Valley and we will honor him as well.

Looking forward to a great day.

What has most pleased you most since the FSU game?
Swinney: Winning. The mentality. You are never going to be a great program if you lose a game and your season is over. That's a bad attitude and you are going to live a miserable life. Proud of their attitude and proud of their choices that they made. It's hard to win a game.

What is this senior class legacy?
Swinney: Transformed Clemson. Changed the culture at Clemson. Set the standard and made it realistic to achieve that standard. Winners. They have the chance to be the winningest group since the 80s. They have a ton of records and a ton of firsts. It's not just this group but it's all the people involved. This is my first cycle with a senior class. 10 scholarship guys. All of our guys are important to me

Did Tajh Boyd exceed your expectations and was there one point in the recruiting process where you knew he was coming here?
Swinney: I had a clue the night before maybe but it wasn't 100 percent. I remember I saved the newspaper from Hampton, Virginia from that signing day and it said "The Power of the Pen" and it's still in my office today. The power of the pen. I sold him on our vision of Clemson and he knew it was a leap of faith. It was kind of a leap of faith. He could have gone somewhere else where they've done it but he wanted to do it at Clemson where it hadn't been done in a long, long time. I knew he would be a great player here. I knew it. We knew that we would have to grow him up and develop him and we did that. But I didn't know he turn into the kind of man he is today. Because that's what he is.

What was exactly the vision that you sold Tajh during the recruiting process?
Swinney: Taking Clemson back to the top. Being able to be the best of the best. That was all part of it the vision. And again, doing things that hadn't been done at a place where it wasn't done in a long long time. It's just been a lot of fun. Some tough times. Good times. But it's been a lot of fun with the journey we've been on.

You said it's a strange dynamic to face an offense like the triple option back to back weeks with obviously a big game next weekend in Columbia?
Swinney: That's a great question. I thought about that last spring. It was one of the first things that went through my mind. We work a little option stuff throughout the year and we still do a lot of good on good and when we do that we aren't doing it with the triple option. That's how we stay sharp. I really believe in that. You have to work good on good throughout the season in every week. When we go against each other we are running our offense versus our defense. You stay sharp that way. It's enhanced more this week because we are practicing against the triple option every day.

The end of the Auburn- Georgia game, what exactly do you coach in those situations?
Swinney: Knock the ball down. There's nobody behind you. Knock the ball down. That's why you teach that because crazy things happen. You coach those things because bad things happen. Don't let anybody behind you. You practice that throughout fall camp. You dial them up and you execute them. It's the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. You keep coming back for more because it was fun.

Do you remember when the idea was hatched to play an FCS opponent the week before South Carolina?
Swinney: I don't know. I don't know when that was hatched. I liked it when I saw it. This year we went from the nine game to the eight game schedule. I think it's good for both South Carolina and Clemson. Mid-major team. We've been battling trying to win the division every year against a conference opponent.

The Sammy Watkins impact? And will he run down the hill with the seniors Saturday?
Swinney: No. We don't honor juniors... at the banquet. Guys that have been here four years and are graduating then that's different. Nobody owes us a fifth year and to be honest we don't owe them that. It's graduation until we part. That's what I tell them. Matt Porter is an example. But with juniors- we honor them at our banquet if they are coming out. That's a different deal. Sammy hasn't told me he's leaving. Who knows? I think he's the best receiver in the country. We'll cross tat bridge when we come to it. He's been unbelievable. His career has been well-documented. He's got a chance to break Aaron Kelly's record and he's only done it three years. I can't imagine him not winning the Belitnikoff. One of the most low-maintenance super stars I've ever dealt with. You can kick him in the tail or you can love him and he always responds. He sets the tempo on this team.

The financial aide agreement rule that went into effect. Is this a partial way to an early signing period?
Swinney: We've had that in place. But it's happening a little bit earlier. You have be a mid-year candidate. It has to be somebody who is on-path to graduate. By the time they get to their fall semester of their senior year you know. We may sign five or six of them this year which is more than normal. It takes the recruiting rules away and you can you communicate with them as much as you want. That's been great. That's a positive thing. I can see where it would be misused because everything goes away. You can talk about these guys and publicize them.

What do you think about Deshaun Watson?
Swinney: I think he's pretty good. He's a great prospect. He's everything you can possibly want in a quarterback. A great leader and a winner. Great skill set. Especially for what we do. Really excited about him coming to be a part of our program. No question about it.

WHat about the wide receivers? Artavis Scott and Demarre Kitt?
: Great group. Very special group. Receiver is critical to our success. Those guys are what we need.

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