Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Interim head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media Tuesday to preview Saturday's upcoming game with Atlantic Division rival Boston College.

Opening Comments
Swinney: Hope y'all are having a good day. Appreciate you guys showing up. First of all I think we've had really good preparation in practice. Guys came back yesterday after a weekend off and really had an attention to detail. We had a full practice, 22 periods in full pads and really got after it. I thought they really really responded well. I was excited about that last night. Boston College- it doesn't get any easier for me. This is a great opportunity for me and nobody said it was going to be easy. They are a very good football team and a lot like Georgia Tech defensively. It will be a huge challenge for us offensively, but what a great opportunity. That's the way I look at it. They are big up front. They do a tremendous job stopping the run. They run a very sound system on defense. If you allow them to play their game, it can be a long day for you. We've got to be creative and we have to do some things offensively that will give us a chance against these guys. No. 7- he was a linebacker last year and now he's the starting boundary corner. From a size standpoint, they have a tremendous advantage. Offensively, they probably have as good a scheme as any team we play. Quarterback has been very efficient for him and he makes a lot of plays. He's slippery ... he's made a lot of plays on his feet. They'll have a lot of five out with all five wide receivers out and they'll try to run the football ... they are a zone read team where they read the end and run a little option off it it. We have not beaten Boston College since 1958 ... I wasn't even born then. So it's a great opportunity for this football team and it's a game that usually comes down to the last play. This will be no different. There will be five plays in this football game that will determine the winner and loser. Looking back to Georgia Tech and the other games we have to make two more plays. Two more plays. We have to change the mindset. Somewhere along the way we've lost our confidence to make the play required. That's kind of what I'm preaching to the team. You have to have confidence in your ability to make the play required- whatever that is. Making a one handed catch. Beating a three-technique. Whatever that is you have to have confidence. I'm excited. We are not a broken team. We aren't an old hoopty car ... we've got a six-disc CD changer, moon roof and a nice paint job. Somewhere along the way we caught a flat tire or got low on gas. I'm trying to fill the tank back up and fill the tires. My job is to get these guys confidence to make those two more plays. We have to do a better job as coaches to make those two more plays. That starts by going about your business. How you meet. How you practice. Everything - it all goes together. That's what I'm trying to do to get your mindset back where it's supposed to be- that you expect to win. No doubt it's going to be a huge huge task for us.

Do you think your players think they are good team?
Swinney: No I think they think they are a talented team. What I'm trying to do is to make us become a team team. Just more than talented guys out there running around. I think we've made some progress. Somewhere along the line whenever we lost a football game- it was here we go again. When we lose a game, it should register on the Richter scale- man Clemson lost a football game. You have to expect to win. It starts right here. I've got to get this right. We've got talent. We've got some young guys we are playing in spots. There are no excuses here. This is Clemson. When we broke it down yesterday we said 1-2-3 ... Clemson. We've got to get that mindset back. You need to win. You eat to win. You sleep to win. Everything you do goes into creating the mindset.

When did this change of the mindset happen that you are talking about?
Swinney: That I don't know. That's probably somewhere along in spring practice or the offseason or the summer. That's usually where these things happened. That's probably where it first started.

How did that happen?
Swinney: I don't know. All I can do is handle it going forward. The biggest thing going forward is to have that winning mentality and having an appreciation for everybody else's roles on the team.

And you are saying the seniors have bought into this new mentality ?
Swinney: As a matter of fact the seniors have been awesome. I've spent more time with them than anybody. We've got talented seniors here. Guys that are going to play in the NFL. I've been meeting more with them than any other group. One thing I've asked the seniors to do is to vote a walk-on, a freshman, two sophomores and two juniors a voice in our meetings. They've been great. They've had input. Their attitudes have been really really good. That's been the most pleasing thing to me is how they have responded.

When you talk about they get on the practice field and the little things, when you look back this year were those things not there?
Swinney: No we weren't doing a good job of that. As an assistant coach, you live in your world and coach your guys and that's what you are responsible for. As a head coach, you look at the big picture. I like to coach guys and now I like to coach everybody. I always had things I would like to do a certain way if I was a head coach. So I've got a seven-week opportunity here to be the head coach so there's no better time than now. I know it's unusual because most of the time you have a spring and summer to implement those changes. But the guys have responded well.

Did you have this same issue at Alabama- having to change the mentality with all of these little things you are talking about today?
Swinney: Not under coach Stallings. He was a big picture guy. He spent his time watching the big picture. We had that but we won 70 games in seven years. He wasn't Mary Poppins. We'd get out of line but he was there to get us back in line.

In terms of the game plan against Georgia Tech, it seems like Aaron Kelly was more involved. Was that something you realized that he's the guy you have to get the ball?
Swinney: Well he caught 11 touchdowns last year, which I think was a school record and up until Saturday he didn't have a chance to score a touchdown. That's our fault. That's not his fault. You have to give him the chance to make plays. This game isn't complicated. I know we want to make it complicated. You block, you tackle, you throw you catch. If you have a good player, you give him opportunities. We've got several good players on this team.

Have you focused on how to get your guys the ball in better situations?
Swinney: No question. If we are going to have a chance to win we have to give the guys a chance to make plays- the ball. We have to give Aaron Kelly a chance to make plays down the field. He's 6-4 and a half. He's got great ball skills. He's done it. We aren't making that up. He's got a chance to be a great player. He doesn't look like he would bea great runner, but he is with the ball. If you don't ever do anything to challenge you downfield, they sit on you and it makes difficult to all of those other things. Jacoby Ford- he's got to catch the ball. He had a couple of catches Saturday including two huge plays that didn't count. He's a guy that has to continue to evolve. Same thing with Tyler Grisham- he can make plays in a lot of different ways. James Davis and C.J. Spiller speak for themselves. We've got five guys that could play for anybody. We've got to be smart with our schemes and give them a chance to win.

Because of your enthusiasm and your personality and the way you've taken charge, you put these things in place, but isn't there still a fear that that your players may not take ownership and they still need you to take charge?
Swinney: Oh yeah. And I'll do that. I pretty much made it clear who's in charge. But I will listen. There's no doubt about it that my greatest asset is my players. I have to rally these guys and unify these guys and get them to believe in me and what we are doing. Without that I've got no chance and neither do the other coaches.

Do you feel more prepared coming into this game week that it's your program now?
Swinney: Well we were very prepared for Georgia Tech. It's different from a timeframe standpoint. We are much more settled. We've created a better work environment. Guys are getting more than a couple of hours of sleep at night. We've had a chance to sit down and put a good game plan together.

B.C. is giving up 29 points a game in the league, that's the most any team is giving up. Your thoughts on that?
Swinney: They are giving up 29 points a game. They are second in the league in total defense. I don't want to use the term bend but don't break but that's what they are. If you get in space, you have a better opportunity for a big play. They want to keep you in the box. North Carolina did a really good job getting some big plays on them. They also had some big plays for scores as well.

Is it hard to believe three years into the ACC you haven't beaten these guys?
Swinney: It's real hard to believe that. Thought we were going to win all three of them all the way to the last play of the game but it hasn't gone our way. Literally- it's been a couple of plays or a couple of calls. However you want to look at it. Yeah, I'm surprised. I'm glad Matt Ryan is gone. Heck he earned all the respect from me by that play he made his sophomore year. I thought he was dead after that hit by David Dunham. That was impressive.

What is the latest with the quarterback situation for Saturday?
Swinney: Cullen is the starter and has performed well in practice. I thought he played his best game [against Georgia Tech]. Threw the ball with a ton of zip on it. Made some plays with his legs he hasn't been making. Willy Korn continues to impress me as a player and as a person. He's just not healthy right now. He's not 100 percent. He practiced yesterday with the second team. I would not be comfortable with him playing if the game was today but it's one of those injuries that gets better every day so we think he'll be able to play. Hopefully the plan is to try and incorporate both of those guys the rest of the way. Maybe it's a series ... maybe something clicks where it's a couple of series.

Do you have a theory as to why your defense has played pretty well for three and a half quarters the last couple of games only to fall in the end?
Swinney: A theory? It goes back to the mindset. It goes back to the mentality. 60 minutes- that's one of the things I'm preaching to the team. The fourth quarter- that's one of the things I'm preaching to the team this week.

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