Dabo previews S.C. State

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

Opening statement...
Swinney: Obviously coming off a disappointing loss from this past weekend. We had a chance to steal one on the road and didn't get it done. A lot to improve on. Some positives to build on as well. Excited to get back to the Valley this weekend. We get seven of these a year. It's special. I'm excited about getting in the Valley and do what we do with he Clemson faithful.

S.C. State is another good team this year. Coach Pough has done a great job with just the consistency in their performances over the years. Last year they had a veteran defense and this year they have a lot of veterans on offense.

They are 1-0, scored a ton of points in the opener. Their quarterback was more of their wildcat quarterback last year. He's very capable of making throws. Very impressed with their offensive line. Good group. They have a couple of guys that we recruited.

New defensive coordinator that came from Louisville. He was with Coach Strong for a long time. They bring a lot of pressure. Very impressed with how hard they play.

The big thing for us is to work on Clemson. It is good to have some game film to work off of. We can learn, correct and stay confident and make sure the commitment is reaffirmed in a few guys. My objective is to see us get better as a football team this week and I expect that we will. All good teams after a loss, they refocus and get better.

Obviously wish we would have won the game the othe night. We had our chances. But too many mistakes against a really good football team in their house. If we improve and mature and grow in what we are capable of doing, and that's my challenge to the team this week.

Health-wise we are in good shape. Worst injury we had was in pre-game with Sam Cooper. He thought he was hit with the football. But he broke his fibula. But we are encouraged with his prognosis and happy we will get him back in the short-term.

Other than that, we cam through the game pretty good health-wise.

You won handily last year, but is there anything that could be more challenging this year from this S.C. State team?
Swinney: They are a good team. We had some scores on defense (last year). When you score on defense that's a big factor. We got on them early and all three phases came together. That's what I want to see this year. All three phases improve. I don't care what the score is. I just want to find a way to get better and I want to win. We recruited a few of those guys that are really good players. No. 10 freshman on defense- Leonard- Anthony Waters' little brother. He's a guy we probably would have recruited five years ago. But it's about us and the standard that we set.

Will David [Beasley] and Corey [Crawford] automatically get their starting spots back?
Swinney: They've done nothing to not be considered two of our best players. They just weren't able to play in that game. We prepared for the season, not just one game. We'll plug them right back in there and get going. Today and tomorrow are critical from a practice standpoint. I loved their energy and effort. But there are consequences for your actions. They have been great since the spring. Gone above and beyond.

Is Ammon Lakip still your starter at kicker and what's your concern level right now with special teams?
Swinney: It's still his job. It's one miss. I wish he would have made it. If he's 0-for-1. I'm not going to fire him for that. If he's 0-for-a while then we've got issues. He'll get better this week. It was a big kick. It was a big one. We had some young guys on there that we've got to coach them. Sometimes you learn the most from pain. Usually the biggest growth and opportunity comes from a little pain and suffering.

Were you disappointed your tight ends weren't getting off the line with consistency against Georgia?
Swinney: I didn't think they struggled off the line. But we didn't get them involved the way we wanted to. First half we wanted to run the football and that's what we did. Execution was great with the exception of the two drops we had which killed two drives. But to say they struggled off the line was not accurate.

When you have a game like that with two different halves, which one is it better to teach from?
Swinney: Both. They are critical. Learn from the success and learn from the failure and why. Yesterday was a long tough day. You are having honest conversations. My job is to make sure the offense knows what happened on defense. And the defense knows what happened on offense. That's what getting better is all about. It's accountability for all of us. Ultimately it all falls on me. But it's about teaching! Teaching from the good and teaching from the bad. It's all about the next game. The next season. When you are a competitor you want to get back on the field. A win makes everything better and we've got 11 more games and I believe we are going to be a really good team.

Is it good for you guys to play at least one of these kinds of games like this per season?
Swinney: That's why a lot of teams around college football schedule these games as the opener. Play a lot of guys. Learn a little bit. It's good for us to play an in-state school like this. It's good for us to have a home game like this. They get the opportunity to play on a big stage. It's good for the state. Money stays in state. It's good for us.

Is it easier not to look ahead to Florida State because you have a bye-week after this game against S.C. State?
Swinney: Better get dialed in or they will get beat this week. Nobody is talking around here about Florida State. You may be but we aren't. You have to earn it. You have to deserve it. I want to see our football team earn and deserve to win. Every game is huge. Always cracks me up when we try to create the mentality of one game is bigger than the other. If you don't believe that, come stand behind this podium and lose one of them.

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