Opening comments on Oklahoma...
Swinney: First of all, I've been on the road since the South Carolina game. Literally. Good couple of weeks being out on the road. Seeing most of our mid-year guys. Busy but very productive. Good to be back home- that's for sure. Proud of our team. Obviously the South Carolina game was a tremendous way to end our season. It was a good year. Had a chance to kind of reflect and look back on the season. I'm proud of what we got accomplished. We started out to finish 12-0 but we competed our tails off. We competed at a high level. Certainly in position to have won every game and we came up a little short in a couple of instances there. Our football team has overcome a lot of adversity this year- especially on the offensive side. We are really excited about the bowl game. Great opportunity for us.
Really anxious to get back on the field with our guys this afternoon. They had a week off and this week they are back in the weight room. But we haven't been with them. Excited about that.
Oklahoma is the sixth winningest program in college football. Storied program. Coached by one of the game's best ever in Coach Stoops. Tough draw for the Tigers, that's for sure. But we are excited about. Oklahoma has been the best of the best. Especially since Bob Stoops has been there. We look forward to that competition.
I haven't broken down film of Oklahoma but they were picked by a lot of people as a No. 1 team in the country. So it's a fine line when you look at what they did this year. Couple of overtime losses. They could easily be an 11-1 team instead of an 8-4 team. This is a very talented footbal team that we are going to play. I know they will be excited to play us as we will then.
It's unusual because everybody talks about Brent [Venables]. He's familiar with those guys but it's not something that he's necessarily excited about.
Bowl season is critical for us just like every year. We try to work hard. We try to develop our team. We want to prepare this year's team to win the game. But we also want to get a head start for spring practice. That's a big part of what we do with our bowl prep. We have a great group of redshirt guys that want playing time and this is a critical time for them. It's fun to get out there and coach those guys.
This year, it's even more critical because we have some staff changes. So we have a chance to develop our staff. So we'll have a trial run if you will.
This particular game there is a ton of opportunity with this team. We are going to do everything we can to put our best foot forward to win this game. That's what it's about. We ahve a chance to win 10 plus games for four years in a row- we would be one of only four teams nationwide that have done that - Clemson, Florida State, Alabama and Northern Illinois. Great opportunity. We want to finish ranked as high as we can.
So we will push forward and try to achieve that. Most of our guys are graduating. We will have two seniors, maybe three at the most that will need to do any course work in the spring to finish up. That's exciting.
Stanton Seckinger had surgery yesterday on his PCL and had some work done on his MCL too. He will start his rehab process right away and will miss spring ball.
Deshaun Watson is having surgery this morning. There was a lot of thought and discussion on that. Had we played the next week he would have probably played it out. But the timing of it all - we would have lost about three weeks. We want to come back to school in January and instead of starting the process, he will be about three weeks into it. So when he comes back in January we are onward and upward.
We want him to be able to lead our team in the summer with skills and drills. That is very important.
On the move of Chad Morris to SMU and the promotion of Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott...
Swinney: It's exciting to see the opportunities. For Chad and Paula and their families. It was a great fit and that is perfect. For us, I'm excited about moving forward. We've had this plan in place for a couple of years. We knew if the right job came along that Chad would be a good fit. I'm excited about Jeff and Tony. They are two incredibly gifted young coaches. They have had huge roles in the success we have had - in every area. Whether that is recruiting- game planning, etc. They've both worn a lot of hats. It was really an easy decision. It's the culture I want to have to be able to promote from within. It's not always the case. It's all about who you surround yourself with. I know exactly what I want. They know how to do that and they will do a phonemenal job.
On the hiring of Brandon Streeter...
Swinney: Then to bring Brandon Streeter home, he's a great addition to our staff. He knows Clemson. But I have two freshman quarterbacks showing up in January. I've got Deshaun Watson. So I wanted a guy who had a lot of experience coaching quarterbacks. I knew I wanted to hire him for a long time. I've watched him, since he's been at Liberty and at Richmond. Had a great conversation with Coach Rocco - and he just validated what I already knew anyways. Great toughness. He will bring a lot to that room - they will all work tremendously together. We have a huge recruiting department. Thad Turnipseed does a great job. Brandon will assume the duties from Jeff. Also Tyler Grisham will move to our on-the-field GA. Thomas Austin will be a GA replacing Dustin Fry. Then Cameron Aiken is a GA too. He will work in our video GA role. Anxious to get going.
What's the updates on Martin Jenkins? Jay Jay McCullough?
Swinney: Martin should be back for the bowl game. He's doing good. Jay Jay- we are evaluating. I've been on the road for the last couple of weeks so we will see. Will let y'all know there.
How is spring going to go without quarterback depth?
Swinney: I think it will be fun. I saw Tucker Israel yesterday. Saw Kelly [Bryant] next week. It's going to be fun. And we have big Nick. Then we have a walk-on too. Ol' Streeter has his work cut out for him. We'll put a coaching hat on Deshaun as well. It's a great blessing to be honest with you to have two guys coming mid-term. We have to get them coached up. Hopefully they will make great progress like Deshaun Watson did last year.
There's a perception that you aren't trying to win the bowl game to win because you aren't playing Deshaun Watson. How do you respond to that?
Swinney: Well, we want to do what's best for the long term. As we went through the situation for the South Carolina game, he said he could play and didn't have pain. I was skeptical at first. I told him he was going to have to prove it to me this week. We went into the week with Cole as the starter. And he did. Wow. He did. Had we had a game the next week he would have played. But the timing of the rehab - I think it's important that we go ahead and get the surgery done. Let's get those three weeks in the bank. Critical to have him in the summer. You need that leader. You need someone out there leading the charge. It's critical to have him do that. Did we want to win the Boston College game? Did we want to win the Syracuse game? Absolutely. We will put our best foot forward. This is the decision that is best for Deshaun Watson and for us long term.
Can you discuss the process of Tony becoming the play caller?
Swinney: People would be surprised the calls that Jeff made the last few years. The calls that Tony made the last few years. Tony is going to move up into the box. He's a very cerebral guy. Tony is an engineering grad. Jeff is a math major. Jeff has done a great job managing chaos. There's a lot going on when you coach wide outs. Moving Tony up to the box is the biggest thing. He's done a great job the last few years. He's been very closely involved with our tight end and our quarterback. He's been a very big part of everything. Both of those guys are very intelligent. It's not uncommon to have co-coordinators. TCU has them. The team we are getting ready to play has them. They are going to do a fantastic job.
Will you change anything you do on offense with Chad going to SMU?
Swinney: No no no. The reason I hired Chad was because I knew what I wanted to do. That hasn't changed. We have a philosophy in place and we have a plan that we do. We study ourselves and we try to improve. We visit other places. That's what you do as a football coach. Philsophically you are who you are and we've had some great success. There's a lot we have to improve on this year. We have the No. 1 offensive line in the country coming in. We have to grow those guys up. We have to grow up our personnel. With new leadership, there are always things we can do here and there.
Did you consult with Deshaun Watson on the coordinator hires?
Swinney: I kept him in the loop on what my thinking was. He wasn't surprised. He was excited and ready to go.
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