Dabo previews N.C. State

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Clemson's matchup with the Wolfpack.

Opening comments...
Swinney: We are glad to be back in The Valley. Good to be home for a couple of weeks in a row. Really want to challenge our crowd this week. Next two weeks are going to be 3:30 kickoffs. Want to challenge our crowd because they are a difference maker for us. This is a difficult place to play when Death Valley is rocking. I hope our crowd will be there with us for four quarters. We are going to have to play a lot better than last week to have a chance to beat N.C. State. They are playing with confidence and a lot of juice.

Looking at N.C. State offensively, they are a big challenge. They have tons of shifts. Motions. They do an excellent job scheming you and attacking you and creating big play opportunities. They created a bunch of big plays against Florida State. They had guys wide open. Bunch sets. Formations. Wide-sets. So we've got to be very disciplined there. Play-action creates a lot of opportunities for them. No. 1 offense in our conference. They are averaging over 500 yards of total offense. Offensive line is a bunch of veterans. Veteran group.

The biggest change in their whole program is the quarterback. Very impressed with him. He leads the league in touchdowns. He's big. Looks a lot like Jameis Winston. Breaks tackles and extends plays. There were times last week where there's no way that should have happened. And they couldn't get him on the ground. He created some big time plays.

They play all three backs. Dayes is an all-purpose threat. Shadrach scored a big touchdown last year against us. And they've all kinds of skill players on the outside.

Defensively, they lead our league in turnover margin. They've created some big turnovers in big situations. Their defensive line is disruptive and active. They pushed Florida State around. They got pressure on Jameis and knocked the ball loose. They are young from a depth standpoint but their front line guys can play. Defensively they will play a lot of man to man in the secondary. Three starters back there and a very physical group.

This is a football team that is much improved and for us we are going to have to improve.

We can't make the mistakes that we made in the second half and we have to put four quarters together.

How does N.C. State compare to North Carolina?
Swinney: I just think they are better. They are better defensively. More people. They have three starters back in the secondary that have played a lot for them. Five veteran guys up front. They are better at quarterback. He's playing with a swagger. He's raises everyone else's play around him. Florida State settled in a little bit in the second half and stopped the run but they still made plays in the secondary. I was impressed with watching them on tape. We are all trying to figure out who we are those first couple of games. Especially when you have new pieces you have to break in.

Your offensive line continues to be a work in progress. What's your concern level?
Swinney: At the end of the day, we've played some good teams. We've been baptism by fire. A lot more good than there is bad. If you would have told me two years ago that Kalon Davis would be the player he is, I wouldn't believe it. I am so impressed with Kalon Davis. The only thing we haven't asked him to do is play center. We lost two good piece last year in Brandon Thomas and Tyler Shatley. They are in the NFL. I'm very pleased with Reid Webster. I wasn't sure he was going to make his mind up (to be a starter). He's really come through with us for a lot of things. Norton has been good at times, not as consistent at times. Guillermo has all the tools and is learning. He's got a great future. Isaiah Battle is what we always tell you he is - a big time NFL talent. But not as disciplined as we need him to be. He's physical and has a solid understanding of what we are doing. He's not always technically where he needs to be but he's improving. So there's been a lot of positive. Crowder showed a lot of progress in camp. We've got to get him back on track. Maverick Morris - has a lot of talent who's not quite ready for the show. Joe Gore - probably had the best camp and didn't play up to his potential in the Georgia or S.C. State games. Didn't start against FSU but played better. And did some good things last week. We are a work in progress. After four games we are battle tested. Very few teams are where we are after four games. Are we where we need to be? No. But we are improving. There's a lot of good. Most people just want to focus on the bad.

Looking at the replay, there were some more bad snaps- did that disrupt some of your timing on offense?
Swinney: Timing was an issue in the run-game last week. The biggest thing was what North Carolina was doing. We should have attacked them a little more. We have unblocked guys make tackles but we threw for 435 yards. You throw for 400-something yards and then what's wrong with the running game. Bottom line was we won the game and we did what we do. If I'm North Carolina, I'm thinking OK we've got a freshman starting let's see if he can beat us. I think we will see some different structures defensively going forward. We are missing Cooper there at tight end and we think we are getting him back this week so we are excited about. And then we are trying to get No. 9 going but he's playing at a different gear. We got to slow him down a little bit so the play can be effective. So at the end of the day, we took what was there. But we have to improve for sure.

Did Rod McDowell understand this offense better and that's why he was more productive than what you have now?
Swinney: No. We had Brandon Thomas, Shatley and Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. We've got a bunch of unproven dudes right now. In fact, if you take these guys' production through their first four games versus what those guys did in their first four we are actually more productive now. I don't know what that means, but that's how it is. Adam Choice has a bright future and had a deep thigh bruise. We are trying to slow Gallman down. McDowell was a fifth-year senior. We've got a good system and a good plan in place. We don't have all the answers today, but we've played some really good people and we've been in position to win every game. We've got some guys that have to grow up and learn how to prepare daily. We are getting better. That's all we can ask.

When you have a guy who looks as polished as Deshaun is, how do you handle that player to keep him level headed?
Swinney: I always think it depends on the individual. Who is he? What's his DNA? Some guys can have that big success early and it's probably a distraction because they aren't very mature. Then you have other guys, like Deshaun, who are mature and wise and mature behind their years. Sammy was the same away. He had one issue in three years. And he was the face of everything. He couldn't go anywhere. I was very impressed with how he handled the mature. Everybody wanted a piece of him. Deshaun is wired the same way. He's never been a distracted guy. He's always been very serious. He's got a maturity to him that is rare for a young guy. He's been through a lot. He's been through a very tough cancer situation with his mother. Wasn't caught up in the recruiting process. He's been a leader for a long time. He's not a redshirt freshman, he's a true freshman. He's going to have a bad game. He gets all of that. We'll keep coaching him up and limiting him from a media standpoint. He's a freshman. He needs to continue to grow and prepare. We have to be smart about how we handle him.

Can you compare how Deshaun and Sammy are wired a little more?
Swinney: They were similar in the recruiting process. Never was caught up in recruiting. Knew what he wanted to do. We didn't have a good year that year and we never flinched. Deshaun is a quiet guy like Sammy. He's very serious about what he's doing. Very purposeful. Work ethic plus the talent plus the knowledge is why he is so good so early. Everybody is different. But Deshaun - I've never been around a freshman like him. Even Sammy. This guy is a quarterback. The totality to have you understand - defense, protections, structures. Unbelievable. It seems like to me he is a junior because he's been committed forever.

So do you and Chad have to nitpick things when watching film of him?
Swinney: No, no. He's making plenty of mistakes. He'd be the first one to tell you. He put us in a bad spot a couple of times. Things where he looked like a freshman. But there are also things he does, where he makes plays, and you are like 'wow.' That's what the great ones will do.

What's keeping Crowder from getting more playing time?
Swinney: Just mentally got setback. He was one of the bright spots in camp. Mentally he took a step back a little bit. As the season progresses he'll get back in that mix. He's very very talented. He's worked very hard to get his body where it needs to be. He has the right mentality in what you want as an offensive lineman. He's still growing his confidence. The game is fast up front. It's not like guys just line up and face an even front. Those days are gone. To me that's the hardest position to play - the offensive line. I'm proud of him. He's not quite where he wants to be.

Where is Tyshon Dye?
Swinney: Still getting better. He's in pads. He's not ready to play yet.

Will we see him play this year?
Swinney: That's our hope. But we aren't going to put any pressure or expectations on him. He's much improved mentally and physically. But he's not ready yet. He had a kind of a mental setback in the summer. But he's getting better.

Will you continue to play Cole in the middle of games?
Swinney: Yes we are going to continue to play Cole. How much and when depends on the situation. He deserves to play. Just like Ben Boulware deserves to play. Or when Kellen Jones plays instead of Stephone Anthony. Obviously quarterback is a different situation but we have a senior here with us that can help us win. As far as having confidence in Cole as long as he does what we ask him and plays well, he'll continue to play some.

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