Dabo previews Wake Forest

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney looks ahead to Thursday's game against Wake Forest.

Opening statement...
Swinney: We are excited about getting back at it and heading up to Winston-Salem. I like how our team has prepared. I think we've made really good use of the extra time. Just having a few days off physically has meant a lot for the team. Today is Thursday to us as far as trying to keep the same process for our guys. We've had some really good practices. Sunday we had an outstanding practice and that set the tempo for this week. I like the energy I'm seeing from our guys. They are excited about playing again and getting back out on the road.

Wake Forest doesn't have the record they would like to have but they are improving by the week. Coach Clawson did a really good job at Bowling Green. My in-laws are alumni of Bowling Green, so go Falcons.

They had a chance to beat B.C. and we all know how good that bunch is. They led FSU 3-0 after the first quarter and was only trailing 16-3 after three quarters. Offensively, they are very young. But defensively, they are aggressive. Their corners are two of the best corners in the league and I will be very glad when they are gone. We've got to do a good job of competing with these guys. Special teams they lead the league in punt return average. They are 9-for-9 on field goals. THey punt the ball very well.

But for us it's about finishing strong. Finishing the month of November.

From an injury standpoint, the break has been good. Jordan Leggett will be back for us. Deshaun will be ready to play. We'll see how it goes. He's taken most of the second-team work this week. Jay Guillermo will be reevaluated next Monday so he won't go but he's getting closer.

What would it take for Deshaun to play Thursday?
Swinney: If we just had to have him to win the game. He will be dressed and ready to go. It will probably be the most watched pre-game in the history of colleg football. He really looks good. He's done great. He has continued to prepare as if he's going to play every week. Cole is also feeling a lot better. You can just tell. This extra time has been great for him too. He's practiced really really well since last Thursday.

What about Tyshon Dye? Will he play?
Swinney: We plan to. We really wanted to play him against Syracuse. The guy hadn't played for a year and a half and we were fighting for every inch of grass out there. He's ready to go. You will see him Thursday night.

Have you determined your best five on the offensive line?
Swinney: (laughing) Battle is back. Obviously he's one of our best players. David Beasley got banged up and he's one of our best offensive linemen too. My challenge to these guys is not wait until the fourth quarter to turn it on. Battle and Beasley for sure. Norton is a guy is not going to start this week. Reid Webster is going to start for us at center this week. Sometimes guys have to be challenged and football is important to Ryan Norton. We got to get him back and dialed in. He can be more consistent. I think he's responded in practice but he won't start. Kalon Davis will start at right tackle and Tyrone Crowder at right guard. Feel good about Mac and Joe Gore. And will be really excited about getting Guillermo back in the mix when we can.

Is that the big story from this year- how you guys have pulled together on the offensive line to make this thing work on some level?
Swinney: I think Robbie Caldwell is the coach of the year. He's done a tremendous job of finding guys and cross-training guys. We've pulled it together on offense. Young guys are developing. Continuity - quarterback, running back, tight end and OL hasn't been there in knowing what you've got week in and week out. It's been fun too. It's been a challenge. Reid Webster might be the MVP. It's unbelievable what we've gotten out of him this year. So that's one of the storylines. As a team we've found ways to win games. They've responded. But we need to have a great November because that's ultimately how we are going to be judged by this season.

Do you watch the playoff poll being released?
Swinney: Last week I didn't see one second of it. I was at a function in Greenville. It really doesn't matter. There is so much football to be played. It's like the BCS - it gives something for everybody to talk about every week. It will matter at the end of the month. For us - we just want to have the best finish we can have. There were only 11 FBS schools that finished with 2 losses or less. And we were one of them. So that's the goal for us.

What specifically were you pleased with in the bye week?
Swinney: Just the guys coming back to work - the attitude. The spring in their legs. Guys did a good job of taking care of themselves. When you get an opportunity to rest - rest. We have a lot of veteran guys that understand. Being in the training room. Getting the cold tub. All of those things that help them maintain peak performance this time of the year. But the biggest thing is how they practice. When they came back in Saturday morning, they were ready for game week. Then, we typically don't practice on Sunday and yet we did and it was a tremendous day.

Is Wayne Gallman and this rushing attack ready to turn the corner after what happened at the end of the Syracuse game.
Swinney: I think his confidence is really high right now. Immensely since the beginning of the year. He's going to be an excellent player. He has to learn how to be a running back but he's made big strides for us. Wayne played in the Wing-T so it was a different deal in this offense learning to get downhill. He was running more horizontally there. Wayne has benefited

Is there anything you've learned about Deshaun since the injury?
Swinney: Just how he's handled everything. The notes he takes in meetings. How engaged he is during the game in knowing he's not going to play. He's a yes-sir, no-sir kind of guy. If you tell him to do something he will do it to the nth degree. He's obsessed with doing everything he can to get back out there. If we want to play him, he'll be ready. If not, he will support the guys that are.

Has Deshaun been throwing without any pain?
Swinney: Yes. He's throwing great. Doesn't have any pain. Hasn't had any pain. He really cut it loose last week. But he really looks great. The only thing he was hindered by was the contraption on his hand.

Dave Clawson said he's wondering how they are going to get a first down on your defense. What are your thoughts on that?
Swinney: He's just trying to give praise to our defense. And they are good. It's been hard to move the ball on them. Regardless of who we play, it's been very difficult. Florida State had -13 rushing yards on us. Nobody has been consistently able to move the ball up and down the field. And we've called the game in that way as a result. It's almost cost us a couple of times. But these guys have a chance to be the best in the country and we want to harness that. They are relentless.

How do you compare this team to the 1992 Alabama defense?
Swinney: Different times as far as offensive philosophies. Only way to do it is to take that roster and track the two deep in the NFL compared to that one. A bunch of guys from this defense are going to play in the NFL. A bunch. That's the only way you can truly compare it. That year we had the third and fourth pick in the draft at D-end. I think this team is better at safety than that team. As far as how it all matches up otherwise, you have to look at few years down the line to see what his group has done in the NFL.

Do you have more confidence with this team offensively with Deshaun coming back?
Swinney: Yes I think we are improving. I've seen some really good signs. Coaches are coaching hard. But I like what I've seen in critical situations the last two games. On the road at Boston College. What we did in the fourth quarter of the last game. We've got a bunch of guys playing positions where they haven't originally started. I'm very encouraged. I'm very encouraged on how Cole has played and how he's improved. Leggett has made some big plays in the last couple of games. Seeing Gallman come on. It's a work in progress. We want to be better but I think our best football is in front of us still.

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