Swinney: Short week so I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet. I know there was an over/under last week so whoever got the under ... won. (laughing)
A good win for us [Saturday]. A good opening game especially when you look around the country at the difficulties of openers. I thought we handled the unknown really well. We really didn't know what they would do defensively. If you watch the film like we do ... they were all over the place. It was zero-technique to everything else. That was one of the things going in ... the key is our recognition. We had one sack [given up] where there was a three-man bump. Really proud of the kids. It was a very clean game. Not a bunch of stupid penalties and things like that. Good opener. Good solid win. Good teaching things on film that hopefully we'll be able to improve from Thursday night. Also proud of the staff and what they did with their preparation. Andre Powell had his guys ready to go. Special teams were special. Hopefully they will special every week. When teams are fairly close, it's special teams that can make a difference. If you look at our kickoff coverage - we were blowing guys up. Chad Diehl was unbelievable. Scotty Cooper had a couple of blow ups and Byron Maxwell.
We've had a good week of practice. The focus has been pretty good. Proud of the team yesterday because they really pushed through. That's something that I mentioned to the staff this morning. We really haven't had that many bad practices where we didn't have effort. I think that shows the focus we have and what we are getting from the meeting rooms. This is one of those weeks where we have to show endurance.
This is a big, big game for both teams. You have to love it. Doesn't get any better than this- national tv. It's exciting. It's what you play for. It's what you coach for.
For us- in a game like this- it's all about discipline. You have to gang tackle and you have to hold on until the Calvary gets there. You have to play disciplined football. They'll have zero, zero, minus one, minus two, fifty. We have to be very disciplined for 60 minutes. We can't have lulls. Everybody has to do their jobs.
There are a lot of cut blocks ... and that is hard for us to simulate in practice. Like it's hard to simulate Jacoby Ford and C.J.S piller's speed. How we handle their style of play from an o-line standpoint.
Georgia Tech is a very capable bunch. Really like Dwyer. He's a good back and deserving of the recognition. He had seven games where he had 100 yards in the first half. He shows up and goes to work.
He also averaged 7.9 yards/carry in the fourth quarter. He's a fast starter and a good finisher. Very very good football player.
They had 38 touchdowns last year with 20 that were 20 yards or longer. Eight of them were 50 yards or longer. They have big play capability and they are very opportunistic. You have to be disciplined. As soon as you don't it's a 40-yard touchdown.
Georgia Tech has been very good on defense the last several years. I was excited to see they had three NFL players up front, until you watch the film. 91 is a great football player. He's pretty special. How we handle him will be critical to the success we have offensively. They are solid at linebacker, good at corner and have an All-American at safety.
We have to maximize our opportunities. We can't do what we did Saturday and expect to win. We had two drops that could have been touchdowns. We had two more drops that would have kept drives going. And we have to score. We hopefully can press them a little bit. And of course, special teams have to be big. That's got to be the trump card once again. We'll head down tomorrow and have our meetings and game prep here and eat here and then leave at 6:15 and bus up there on Thursday.
Do you anticipate teams not kicking to you after what happened Saturday?
Swinney: Well, coach Stockstill- they were trying to keep it out of bounds. They weren't supposed to touch it. The big one Jacoby had was just a squib. We've had to put a lot of thought that people are probably not going to kick it to us. So we've had to restructure. We have to have other guys that can run the ball as opposed to a conventional return team. We've got more running back guys and skill guys in there if they get it in there to us. Jamie Harper isn't a bad runner. Andre Ellington to. It's something that will be a factor for sure. I wouldn't want to kick to us.
What is the one area you need to improve in for this game?
Swinney: Finish drives offensively is No. 1. Taking advantage of our opportunities. You aren't going to win many games not taking advantage of opportunities. We had four drops where there was nobody around. Then the two miscues by Willy. He's fixing to throw a touchdown pass to Xavier Dye. It was a fluke thing. The ball just came out of his hands. Those are things we can control.
Will Willy play this week?
Swinney: I expect him to play. Absolutely. Tough night. He's a tough kid and a talented kid. He's performed tremendously better than what he did the other night. He was jacked up ... it was an easy touchdown. A six-yard throw and Xavier walks in the end zone from 10 yards out. He went to throw it and it just came out. Crazy things happen in football. I have all the confidence in the world in Willy. He's not a guy I've not lost confidence in because he had a couple of bad plays. Yes he will play.
What were the issues you saw with the offensive line?
Swinney: I thought we played pretty good up front. We had a couple of miscues. They were loading the box on us and we were being as stubborn as we could be. We were running plays they knew were coming right at them. We had a whole drive of Rendrick. Whole drive of Jamie. We could have done a whole bunch of things with how they were playing. we wanted to see guys on film. The biggest thing with the third-and-2 on the goal line. We lined up too deep. The smoke guy got us off the edge. The second time was a technique problem. We had a guy jump around and hit us in the backfield
Do you scale back the offense with Kyle making his first start on the road?
Swinney: We have confidence in Kyle and the offense. I think we won the toss Saturday night and took the ball. That is something that we will continue to do. Every drive we had, if we just finish a play, or whatever, we would either scored, or kicked for score and just had one punt the entire game- and that's based on things that we can control and correcting things. But as far as Kyle ... we'll run our offense and do what we do in practice every day.
What is it about Thursday nights that has led to so many disappointing losses for this program over the year?
Swinney: I have no idea. I'm just worried about this Thursday. New coaching staff. A lot of things that we've done will help us every week. Thursday is Thursday. We have to play better. I don't think about it at all.
What do you do differently compared to other Thursday night games you've been a part of since you've been at Clemson?
Swinney: Time. How we organize practice. Periods in practice. How we meet. Our menu of installation as far as how we do our game planning.
What is it about Georgia Tech's offense that has the country talking right now?
Swinney: They are unique. It's kind of like the spread team- the first one that came out. Everybody back then was running the "I." The first spread team came out, I believe it was Oklahoma, then nobody knew how to defend it because you didn't practice against it every day. It's a style of play Coach Johnson believes in and he's been pretty darn successful. he has a system that he believes in and he has a plan that he sticks with. That's the plan for any coach.
You have to feel pretty good about your defense given that a year ago with how they performed under those circumstances?
Swinney: Yep. Six turnovers and had the lead with five minutes left to go. We've played them before and that's good. Malliciah [Goodman] and Corico [Hawkins] and [Jonathan] Meeks weren't here last year. We've seen them and studied them outside of that. We've played them good. We can't be too complicated. We had to be pretty simple last year and that helped us to be honest with you- hey it's dive, pitch quarterback. And it's every play. Play after play after play.
Can you go back to that big catch and run C.J. had against Tech in 2006?
Swinney: Just had a simple curl play called. Still don't know what we threw the ball to him. It should have been a tackle for no gain. We've all seen the film many times. He just does what he does. He peeked the corner, made another guy miss and ran away from everybody. Was really happy for him to get out of the gate - hard to start off your senior season any better. He's on this way to having a great year.
Does it seem like 100 years ago (last year's game against Georgia Tech)?
Swinney: It was after the game. I felt like before the game that we had them focused and they were ready and we had started making progress. But as a coach you never know until you see them play. You never know for sure until they are buying in until you see them play. We made mistakes ... there will always be mistakes. I've been trying to coach the perfect game forever. But when I saw their effort and how they responded with what we are trying to do - I knew we had a chance.
And what about their wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas?
Swinney: Discipline. We will have times where we have to matchup. But you can't get lulled to sleep. It's block, block, block and then it's over the top [touchdown]. We've got pretty good corners. Guys that have the ability to cover- we have to make plays.
How conventional are they defensively? More conventional than offense?
Swinney: Discipline Yes. they are a 4-3 football team. They are a team that you are going to have to put drives together. Not a high-risk defense, unlike what we just played. We didn't know where those guys were. we know where these guys are. they aren't unconventional like their offense. Good football players. They can win matchups and No. 91 is a disrupter. He's an outstanding player. Very good with their coverage schemes. Definitely more conventional than their offense.
Your thoughts on Kyle Parker's performance Saturday?
Swinney: He played great. Got player of the game. Would be hard to play that much better as a rookie quarterback. He missed the first throw because he was just jacked up. He said that coming off onto the sidelines. Then threw a strike to Xavier Dye. He did a good job with our checks. We had a few minuses on some things we had to coach him up on. talk about a rookie quarterback? Are you kidding me? He handled it very well.
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