Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney meets with the media before Saturday's game against Boston College.

(45:36)

Opening comments...
Swinney: Thank you all for being here. Off to a good start for B.C. Had a good practice last night. Had a good meeting Sunday. Because of our Thursday night game we had the ability to meet on Sunday and put the Georgia Tech game to bed. The kids bounced back well last night. Good position meetings. Good senior meetings. Response was good. Very good.

This is our first division game. Critical game for both teams. This is a home team for us. We are excited about getting back to Death Valley.

As you look to this team, it's a typical B.C. team. Coach Spaziani and his staff do a wonderful job. Defensively they are what they are. They are always, every year, they are great against the rush. They don't beat themselves. They play sound football and have a nice pressure package. They do a very good job every year. They have young linebackers this year which is a little different but they look very good to me.

Looking at them the first two games, they are only giving up 3.5 points/game. We've got a big challenge there and they've held their opponents to 19 percent on third down.

Offensively, they are very balanced. Gary Tranquill is the new offensive coordinator and he's won a lot of ball games and at a lot of different schools. They have six starters back on offense ... including four of five up front. They have two quarterbacks this year, and we haven't seen that in the past. Two guys are going to play and both are very good. They won't change their system for either one even though No. 7 is somebody they look like will run some zone-read stuff from him.

They have a very good running back in Montel Harris. He's not a very big guy but he's a powerful runner. He gets a lot of yards after contact. I thought he was one of the better freshmen last year that played a lot. They have a veteran wide receiver- Gunnell. He seems like he's been there forever. He's a track guy that's documented that can run. We have to count down on the big plays defensively. We have to know where he is. From a big play standpoint, they are averaging 14.3 yards per catch.

They also have the No. 1 punter in the league. That's kind of who they are. They don't beat themselves and they have that NCAA blitz.

This series seems to have every game be gut-wrenching, kind of coming down to the end of the game. Why is that?
Swinney: Matt Ryan for one. My first three years he'd be the first answer to that one. He's a pretty good player. Last year, it was a really good game. Good competitive games. Division game and the teams have been fairly matched in the past even though there have been different styles. I think our fans genuinely have a respect for one another. Or at least that's what I gather from being up there and them being down here. Guys like C.J. Spiller, Matt Ryan, Raji, Brace, Herzlich ... a lot of good players laying it on the line. And usually this game has meant something. Fortunately we were able to get one last year.

Was the B.C. game last year the turning point for you and this program?
Swinney: Could be. You never know. Had we lost- who knows? It was a step in the right direction. You could just tell the team had changed but the turning point was the Georgia Tech game last year. The Boston College game set the tone that mentally we were doing the right things.

It seems like the mood of the team is overwhelmingly positive after Thursday's loss. How is that possible?
Swinney: We have a great staff first of all. We have great leadership on this team. You don't fool football players. They are smart guys. They watch the film. They know where issues are and where we did good and bad. They understand the game and things we can control and can't control. Every one of them believe in their hearts that we are a better team than we were at this time last week. It's one thing to think it. It's another thing to know. I know we are doing the right things. The kids know that. You want to know what "all-in" is you watch that ball game. You see a group of kids that believe they can do it. They are committed to a standard of excellence. If we can maintain that type of commitment, that type of effort where you don't flinch and you are down 24-0 and haven't even broken a sweat. What you saw the other night is an effort and a will to win that is uncommon. These kids have a special quality to them. They are a close football team. That doesn't mean we won't hit another bump in the road again. I don't know.

What did you learn after Thursday's game as a head coach?
Swinney: That we have a great staff. Great coaches. I learned that I'm human. I screw up to. But I also learned there is nothing less important the score at halftime.

Did you have an inkling at right tackle that this is where you'd be after J.K. Jay went down?
Swinney: J.K. was a big loss. No question about it. Especially having him here for spring practice. Knew that we'd have an issue, but we don't make excuses. We have good football players here and we need to do a better job of coaching them up. We made a personnel change this week and hopefully that will be something that will help us. Our offensive line played really good, with the exception of that one position. It's early ... there's a lot of football left. We are going to keep working some guys and we'll continue to keep tweaking with more players.

Is this the typical B.C. defense?
Swinney: Yes. "Here we are come get you some." That's B.C. They don't try and trick anybody. They line up and play fundamental football. Sure they have pressure. They will do stunts and twists but they aren't exotic by any means. They don't give you huge advantages in trying to get behind them. That's where we've done a good job in the past against these guys ... most of the time that's been our guys getting in space and making plays. They are good tacklers.

Are you really looking for someone else to step up and help you at receiver?
Swinney: Marquan Jones. Marquan Jones is going to be a great player. You know we went from four drops to one drop Thursday. That's improvement. Marquan has great hands, strong hands. Jacoby is going to have a great year. Terrance had the one drop which hurt us. Brandon Clear played really good the other night ... just didn't have the opportunities. He caught the one pass out of bounds. I think Brandon Clear is emerging. The other guy that is going to show up is Jaron Brown. At some point those guys will emerge [more]. Not that anybody has done anything bad.

What is keeping Jaron from getting more snaps?
Swinney: Well the other night we didn't play many people at all. You don't go into a game anticipating giving up 24 points. So we had a lot of guys playing a lot of snaps. Situation we were in the other night, we did what we had to do.

How do you guard against the trick play where they are trying to run a guy off the field but they don't do it?
Swinney: That's a loaded question. You try to prepare for everything the best you can. That's part of football. There's always deception or trick plays that work or don't work. It's hard to prepare for things that aren't legal. You have to do a good job preparing for the right ones. We'll keep working on the ones that are legal plays. There's clear rules on substitutions and deception with subs. You know, where guys have to be when the ball is marked ready to play. That's stuff I'll leave to the officials. Again, but that's what good coaches do when you see an opportunity. Sometimes it hits and sometimes it doesn't. Maybe we could have done a better job in the box with our eyes.

So you think the play was illegal?
Swinney: Yeah I do. I do think it was illegal. We came back and got them to. I thought it was illegal at the time but I couldn't get anybody to listen to me. Our play that we ran and I've talked to Doug Rhodes about it ... his interpretation is that our play wasn't illegal either. So we just won't count either one of them and we win 27-23. (laughing)

You called Boston College's blitz an NCAA blitz ... what is that?
Swinney: there are blitzes that are common that you see every week. A lot of teams will have the same thing and you have to be ready for it. You see it in the pros too. "Well they got the NCAA blitz too." It's the flavor of the season.

So you talked to the officials before you ran the play against South Carolina last year, correct?
Swinney: We talked to a couple of officials and got some interpretations and I also went over it with them before the game. "Hey- this may come up during the game. Is this a problem? No sir."

Are you trying to work on more packages where Ellington and Harper are on the field with C.J. at the same time?
Swinney: We have some packages where there are two on the field together [at the same time]. They are running backs ... it's hard to put a guy on the field [in other positions] when they are running backs. Jamie and Andre are great players. We certainly have packages where they are on the field more.

Can you talk about Kyle Parker's development?
Swinney: I'd say he's exceeding my expectations for sure. He has high expectations himself. I really didn't know until the spring because he didn't get a rep [before]. When Kyle got here for his first spring, he played baseball. He came out to spring practice and stood over there and drank Gatoraide. He wasn't in meetings. In all of our scrimmages, he might have gotten five or six snaps of work. Until the coaching change, Cullen is hurt and Willy is hurt. I'm thinking, dad-gum, we got to find a quarterback. He didn't get significant work until bowl practice. That was the best thing about bowl practice- is we treated it like spring practice. We took all of our redshirt guys and coached them up. When he got an opportunity he was impressive. And when he got here this spring- he was ready. He did a great job in fall camp and in the summer. He's got a good grasp. He had a few bone-headed mistakes. I love his demeanor and his response. He's just a confident kid. He's got great skills and brings out the best in those that are around him. He can throw it anywhere at any time which can sometimes be a negative. You know like on the INT to Jacoby Ford. It was on 3rd-and-1. You don't want to take that aggressiveness away from him. He's got good awareness in the pocket. We haven't given up many sacks. Very impressed with him but he's just going to get better.

Is his arm strength what separates him from Willy Korn?
Swinney: That was one of the things. But he was just more consistent. Made more plays and didn't make as many mistakes.

Did you have to encourage Thomas Austin after that hold for the second year?
Swinney: Well one of the things we do on our Monday meetings is we go over the penalty tape. And I encouraged him. He's a good player. They called it a hold. I'm sure there was a hold in there somewhere. Wouldn't trade him for nobody. Tough situation. Very unusual to have the perfect play, two years in a row ... great throw and a great catch ... to have the same call made.

Is there a policy in place to black-ball officials who don't perform how they should?
Swinney: I love all of our officials. Love them. I'm sure there is a system in place. Doug Rhodes has been very good as far as who to communicate with. My dealings with him have been great. He wants to have the best officiating crew in football. That's important to him. He takes a lot of pride in his job like I do in my job. I'm not saying anybody screwed up. Doug Rhodes with what he's doing- he'll hold people accountable. Things happen in life that you don't like and it's a shame. But we'll overcome.

How much has B.C. lost in the interior defensive line with the losses of Raji and Brace?
Swinney: About 800 pounds. There were some big boys in there. They took No. 52 at end and moved him inside. I don't know if they are Raji or Brace yet but they are good players. And they're two ends have played a lot of ball against us. Those two guys were drafted somewhere. They were good players. These guys aren't there yet but they are good.

Who is faster, C.J. or Jacoby?
Swinney: Every time. C.J. has never beat him. It ain't even close. If C.J. keeps chasing him one day he might get him. Both guys are blazing fast and they take a lot of pride it in. Track has been great for them. Our track coaches have done a super job because they take a lot of confidence. I tell those NFL scouts that are in there every day, I've got a hamburger that Ford will blow them away at the combine and be the fastest.

What is it that moved Landon back to the second or even third team at right tackle going into preseason camp?
Swinney: Making up his mind that he wants to be a great player. He can be good player. Down the stretch last year he really improved. The biggest thing about Landon is that he has to practice better with a little more sense of urgency with a little more attention to detail. He's got a lot of pride and is a tough guy. We've met and he got off to a good start yesterday and I like how he's responded. We'll see what happens.

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