One-on-One with Dabo Swinney

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with Clemson assistant coach Dabo Swinney for CUTigers The Magazine. Below is a small part of an interview that lasted over an hour with Coach Swinney, who was as candid as any coach I've interviewed in the past.

First of all, congratulations on your newest addition!
Swinney: Thank you. We had a healthy baby boy this afternoon. He was due the first day that the players were supposed to report, but he came early. He did me a favor, I guess! His name is Clay and both baby and mother are doing great.

Your thoughts on Georgia's secondary and specifically how your receivers match up against them.
Swinney: We looked at a good deal of film on Georgia this spring and came up with a preliminary plan. I've looked at some more film over the summer. The match up will be very similar to last year. All of their guys are back, and so are ours. The strength of their defense is their secondary. They lost some guys at linebacker and up front, but they will be just as good or better in the secondary. Our strength on offense is at receiver. So, it is a good match up and I like our chances based on what we did against them last year.

After looking at film, what are some of the keys to beating UGA?
Swinney: It sounds like a cliché, but I think the key lies in the guys up front on both sides of the ball. They lost some guys on the defensive front, but the guys that they will plug in are very talented players. That game will really be won or lost in the trenches. I like our odds on both lines, to be honest. Our offensive line looks better than last year and I think our defensive line will match up well with Georgia's offensive line.

Is opening with a team like Georgia a good thing for this team?
Swinney: Everybody is excited. The fans are excited, I know. These players, especially the way that they lost that game to Georgia last year, are really excited about playing a team like Georgia. Our players are confident and they know that they can play with anybody. They just want to finish the task this year. August 30 cannot get here soon enough for me. I'm excited. It will be my first game at Clemson. My first game at Death Valley. I'm just looking forward to playing a team like Georgia and doing my best to make sure Clemson comes out on top.

Do you have a role in special teams?
Swinney: Yes. I'll be in charge of punt returns this year. Coach Burns will have kickoff returns.

Who will you have returning punts this year?
Swinney: Well, Derrick Hamilton and Justin Miller will be our primary guys. We'll also work some with Airese Currie. But, primarily Miller and Hamilton. You want to put your playmakers at punt return, and Hamilton and Miller are defiantly playmakers. My philosophy on special teams is that it is as important as offense or defense, so you want to put the best players on the field. We want to score on special teams. Miller and Hamilton give us a chance to do that.

Talk about your decision to get back into coaching after a year off.
Swinney: All I had ever done was play and coach. I got out of coaching last year at my own choosing. I had a contract that I could have signed at Alabama. I also was offered some things at other schools. The other offers were from places that I just did not want to live, or places that I did not feel comfortable with the coaching staff. So, I made a decision to spend time with my family even though I knew I would come back into coaching when I found a good fit for me and my family.

Clemson is the perfect fit for me. I love this town. I love the fact that these people are passionate about football. I love the fact that they roll in here on Wednesday and Thursday for a game. I love that there is enough interest to have web sites and magazines like this that want as much information about this program as they can get their hands on.

And having the chance to work on this staff and the opportunity to work for Coach Bowden was just too much to pass up. He was my position coach in college, and I just can't say enough about him. He loves these players. He loves this University. He has a vision of where this program is going. I just could not turn down Coach Bowden when he offered me the job.

Be sure to get your copy of CUTigers The Magazine for more on this interview with Dabo Swinney. In the magazine, Swinney talks in-depth about recruiting, including getting so many verbals early this year.

Swinney also talks about how he accesses talent at the high school level, along with how he sells Clemson University to prospects. Swinney also touches on his philosophies on everything from route running to downfield blocking. If you don't have your subscription to the magazine yet, sign up today!
Scott Rhymer can be reached at scottrhymer@msn.com. Scott and CUTigers.com publisher Roy Philpott are the co-hosts of the CUTigers.com Pregame Show on WCCP 104.9 FM, which airs 2 hours prior to the Tiger Tailgate Show on Clemson Gamedays.

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