Dabo previews North Carolina

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney discusses Saturday's tilt against the Tar Heels.

Opening statement...
Swinney: Excited about getting back in the Valley. Night game here in Death Valley. That's something that we really treasure. We've only had one home game this year. I know our team is excited about spending some time at home. Not excited about being 1-2. I will say that I'm very proud of the improvement of our team. We've greatly improved from the start of the season and I'm thankful for that. We've got a long ways to go and we've got a chance to be a heckuva football team.

Another tough challenge this week. Only thing being worse than 1-2 is 1-3. UNC is a dangerous team. They are coming off of a really tough loss like we are. I know people look at the score and say goodness gracious. Football is crazy sport and crazy things happen. This is a really good football team. Biggest thing for us is to finish.

Offensively looking at them - they are the fastest team we've played in terms of tempo. They are extremely fast. We have to do a really good job preparing for that. They score a lot of points. They score a lot of points. They are big up front. They play two quarterbacks. They just play them. They have a ton of confidence in both of those guys. Maybe more zone read with No. 12. But both guys are capable of executing offensively. They have three running backs they all love to play. They all run hard. They understand the scheme. No. 34 (Elijah Hood) looks like he's going to be great in time.

They have always had a good tight end up there. This is the biggest group of receivers we will see. Switzer is a jet that flies all over the field. Very impressed wit their ability to finish plays. I know Quinshad Davis is a local kid and he'll be excited to play the Tigers.

Defensively, they are big up front. Hey have size and depth. No. 9 is a linebacker we recruited hard at Clemson. Back end on the secondary... No. 28 leads the league in interceptions with three. They really create turnovers and that's a huge factor in being 2-1.

Special teams, this is the most dangerous team we've played in a while. They return kickoffs. They have had some last-second punt returns. We've got good people. Switzer is as good as we will see. They take chances.

Good football team. Excited to be back in the valley. Really proud of our team and how they've responded to obviously a very difficult loss.

Every indicator we have on the game we hit, so it's hard to figure how we lost. But we'll pick ourself up and press on.

Why is this the right time to start Deshaun Watson?
Swinney: Did you watch the game Saturday? That's why.

What is the latest on your kicking game after practice yesterday?
Swinney: Coverage-wise we did better. We did better. We had the one return (given up). Pinion had one that could have been better. Ammon [Lakip] is the most talented guy but that hasn't translated yet. It's just mental. We've got to get him through that. We are really stressing that all week long. Alex Spence, I was very impressed yesterday. We are going to give Bradley Pinion a chance too. Alex was one of the best guys out there when we signed him. But he was a little overwhelmed when he first got here. He has kind of been on the shelf since then until yesterday and then all of a sudden you could see he looked like what we saw when he was in high school. So he looks different. We'll see how it plays out. You know I'm reminded with Ammon of Cat (Catanzaro). Cat struggled and that's the reason we went out and signed Ammon but then he refused to let that starting position go. And we all know how that turned out. So we'll see. I'm hopeful the same thing will happen with Ammon.

Deshaun under center - is that something we will see more of?
Swinney: You're not going to see us change our offense, no. We are who we are. We've been under center, yes, but we are not an under-center offense. I'm not going to change what we do because we had one bad play. I'm not going to change our offense because we've had one bad snap out of 10,000. Fact of the matter is we have to make the proper snap. Chad wasn't comfortable with it. We are who we are and I know everybody has an opinion and that's fair.

Have you ever seen a freshman that doesn't get fazed like Watson doesn't?
Swinney: I told a few of my close friends this spring, and they looked at me like I was a crazy. I've never had a freshman like Deshaun Watson. That includes Sammy Watkins. He was a freshman, but he was a wide out. That's an entirely different deal. I have never seen anything like it - it's like he's been here for years.

The C.J. Davidson play before the high-snap. Was there a reason that wasn't reviewed?
Swinney: Oh yeah. Absolutely. We didn't really have a clear view. They were just matter of fact. They tell us they review every play. It's automatic. And if they see any doubt, they buzz them, but they were just matter of fact. But you know what? Doesn't matter. It shouldn't come to that. We are 0-2 versus Clemson. That's the bottom line. We have to control the things we could control. Yeah - I wish they could have reviewed it. I didn't have the info up top like we normally do. There was no sense of urgency at all. It was matter of fact that he didn't score.

Is there one single thread you can connect those missed plays against FSU?
Swinney: I can't explain it. I can't explain why crazy things happen. Crazy things happen. That's what makes the game so much fun. The agony of defeat and the thrill of victory. How we played was incredible. We played a great football game. We played a lot better than we did in the Orange Bowl or against LSU or against Georgia, but we lost. And you keep moving forward. I have to do a better job of getting that one circumstance to not happen somehow. But I'm proud of our guys. I don't think we can lose site of that as a coaching staff.

What do you make of North Carolina. They give up the most points in school history? Most yards in school history?
Swinney: They are a lot better than that. We've been on the other side of that a couple of times too. They will be eager to get past that. No question. Turnovers. Pick-sixes. You get a couple of those situations it will get out of hand in a hurry. Next thing you know you have a mess on our hands. They lost a non-conference game so all of their goals are still in front of them.

What's been your assessment of the running game through three games?
Swinney: Ok. First half of the Georgia game we ran the ball great. S.C. State was very pleased as we played a bunch of guys. Very pleased with how we ran the ball Saturday night. I think we are improving. Not best in the country at this point. Very pleased with our offensive line from Saturday night as we were physical. That No. 90 and 99 are some grown men. Their ends and the depth they have and our offensive line matched up. We weren't perfect. I think we are figuring some things out as well.

Why play two quarterbacks when you feel as strongly as you do about Deshaun?
Swinney: Because he deserves to. Period. Cole is not going to hurt the Clemson Tigers. That's just part of the performance and evaluation you go through.

The bad snap - can you talk about his presence to get the ball and fall on it?
Swinney: He's savvy. He's got great instincts. He's been starting since he's 14 at a very high level of football.

The threats that you referenced yesterday to Ryan Norton. How have you addressed that?
Swinney: Haven't talked to him about it yet. That's disappointing. He deleted his account. It's a shame. You move on. I remember we came back from Georgia Tech a few years ago and Tajh had a rough game and we were 8-0. We came back and his house was egged. He came in all upset. Coach Morris told him 'Coach Swinney threw the first carton and I threw the second carton." It's a tough thing for young people. Nobody likes criticism. People are passionate about it but that's crossing the line.

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