Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney discusses Saturday's game with Miami.

Opening comments...
Swinney: Good to be with y'all today. No rest for the weary. Good football team we are getting ready to play this weekend. As good as we've played. Confident team. You don't just luck up and go to Florida State and win. They beat a good Georgia Tech team and a good Oklahoma team. They have been battle tested and are well-coached. I have a lot of respect for Coach Shannon. Good coach and I've enjoyed getting to know him.

Big game for both teams, certainly in the conference. Should be a good one. The biggest thing about them is they are a good football team in all phases. They want to be a balanced football team. That's when they are at their best. A lot of formations. You have to be able to apply all your fronts and coverages to make sure you are sound. The other thing about you that jumps out at you is they are extremely physical. They seek out contact at the running back position. They get a lot of yards after contact. Then obviously their quarterback and wide outs are very talented. Their quarter is very poised and can make all the throws and run. We've got our hands full there. We have to be able to affect their quarterback. We have to do a good job with their front four. Those guys have to be able to win some matchups. We have to rush and have good coverage as well.

I thought we tackled our best against Wake Forest. The gang tackling ... minimizing yards after contact. That will be critical in this game. When you look at their offense, they've gotten a ton of chunk plays. They are averaging over 14 yards per catch, and nine something per pass. Against Wake Forest we gave up one play of over 15 yards so if we can do that against Miami that will be huge but that's a lot easier said than done.

Looking at their defense, they are a veteran defense. They don't have a lot of seniors but they have a lot of experience. They are totally different in their style of play than what we saw against Wake Forest. We'll have to do a great job at the point of attack, for sure. No. 31 seems to be the leader at linebacker. You better know where he is. He flies around and makes a lot of plays for him. They are very good in the secondary. They didn't have Phillips this weekend but he'll be back.

We have to execute and we can't beat ourselves. The play of our quarterback will be critical. KP will need to play a good game for us back there and make good decisions. Special teams in a game like this is always a factor. We've gone on the road twice now and we've given up big plays on special teams. We have to do a better job and make sure that special teams will be a positive factor for us in this ball game. We have to have great focus in our preparation this week.

Our kids will be excited to play, no doubt about it. We have to go down there and cut it loose. It's our third top 15 team to play. They are a top 10 team, and deservingly so. We are excited about going down there and playing a complete game and coming back with a win.

Any special challenges playing a team that you haven't played in a few years even though they are in the ACC?
Swinney: Not really. They are a conference team so even though you aren't playing them, you know what's going on with them. Even though we haven't been playing them, you see other teams playing them. So I don't think that's a big factor.

Talk about how it came about that Chris Chancellor will wear the No. 6 jersey this week in honor of his former teammate Jasper Howard.
Swinney: That's a really sad situation, first of all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. It breaks your heart. Here's a young man with everything going on in the world for him and now he's gone. We talk to players all the time about being careful with who you are round. Chris came to me Monday morning and asked if he could play No. 6 wearing him. I'd said it be fine. You'll see two No. 6 on the field this weekend.

You believe the Clemson the team we saw last Saturday was the real Clemson instead of what we saw in the first part of the season?
Swinney: I hope we can become a consistent team like what we saw Saturday. We beat a good football team. But it really doesn't matter about our opponent. It's about us and I think they've learned some good lessons. We've played some good teams. We are one of three teams in the country to play three top 15 teams this year and we've been in position to win. Hopefully they have learned some good lessons. It's things we can control. It's not beating yourself. The effort has been good but it's playing smart, paying attention to detail and critical that we do things the right way. That's what we are hoping to gain from this past game.

With all of Miami's injuries this year, is it hard to gauge who will play and who won't for them this weekend?
Swinney: They have had some injuries. But the biggest one has been Phillips (DB). I think he'll be back. I don't know that for sure but he's a really good player.

Can you talk about your secondary? It seemed like they were responsible for a lot of those sacks against Wake Forest?
Swinney: That was a very critical aspect of the game. You can't just blitz all the time against a good quarterback and a good scheme because they will get you. You have to mix it up. They did a great job in the secondary because Wake went to eight man protection and he had to hold onto the ball because our secondary was in blanket coverage. We did miss the pick six (Byron Maxwell) and that was big but technique wise we were as good as we've been and that will be a key this week because this week it's all about chunks. They don't have a receiver with a ton of catches, but they all average big yards. We'll have to do a great job of holding up in coverage.

You have talked a lot about changing the culture here ... and the culture seems to be that the win down at Miami and losing to Duke the next game. That seems to be discussed a lot ... is that kind of the heart of changing the culture?
Swinney: Hopefully we can beat Miami and then you ask that question when we play Coastal. All I know is it's about getting better every week. It's about doing the things each week that good football teams do- getting better and blocking and tackling. Giving good effort. Getting better at throwing and catching. To me that's what changing the culture is about.

What do you see about Miami's offense that has the pro influence?
Swinney: Just formation-wise. They do an excellent job of creating good matchups based on their formations and he's done a really good job at quarterback. He's been outstanding for them. He understands blitzes and protections and is well coached.

How do you contain Jacory Harris?
Swinney: We got to get to him. We got to hit him. Kind of like this kid last week. We can't let him get comfortable. If we do, it will be a long day on South Beach. It's critical that we can affect him. We have to win matchups.

Is this the best offensive line you've seen?
Swinney: They are about like TCU. Similar to TCU.

Do you talk to your team about getting that tombstone for beating a ranked-team on the road?
Swinney: No. It's something the kids talk about walking by practice every day. It's all about executing. If we execute, we'll have a chance to win. We get a bounce or two and we can win. We've got to learn how to finish and finish on the road in particular. If we are going to be the kind of program we want to be then we have to mature. That's what I want to see Saturday. Doesn't matter who we play or what the weather is ... we have to show up and play and execute.

Do you have top 15 talent?
Swinney: Close. Probably got a few things we need to address. We are good enough to play with most teams. I don't think anybody has pushed us around. To be a top 15 team though you got to win. That's where we have to mature.

Any fights with coaches this week to try and motivate the team?
Swinney: Nope. Nope. But it's still early though.

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