Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday's all-important matchup with Florida State.

Opening comments...
Swinney: Good win last week. Thought our team responded well to an emotional win at Miami and we went back to work. It was also good to play a lot of guys. That helps your morale. Now you can get after their backups so you can get after them more.

From that standpoint it was a productive win for us. Good win.

Just like the Coastal game last week this is the biggest game of the year for us. It's a conference game. It's a division. Our focus is to continue to try and get better as a football team and keep focused on our goals. Looking forward to seeing coach Bowden. He's a legend. I've grown up my whole life following the great coaches ... Coach Bryant, Coach Paterno and Coach Bowden. Looking forward to seeing him a bit before the game.

Offensively, they are extremely dangerous. They've gotten some dramatic wins and they've gained a lot of confidence from that. Offensively they are the No. 1 team in the league. They love to get the ball out quick and get the ball out in space. They spread people out and create matchups. Their running back, Thomas, is a guy that is running well and a guy we recruited. Veteran offensive line - bunch of guys that kind of went through the wars last year. They are impressive.

Their quarterback- he makes them go. Seems like every week we look up and we are playing a good quarterback. He's as good as any we've played. The kid at Georgia Tech, Riley Skinner, Dalton at TCU, Jacory Harris - so it's another big challenge for us defensively. Plus he likes to run the football. He runs with a purpose. Tough guy that can make all the throws and he spreads the ball around and he doesn't get sacked very often.

We'll have to do a great job of affecting the quarterback, just like it has in those other games. We've got to get him out of his comfort zone so he's not playing in rhythm.

For us it always starts with us stopping the run. Will be no different this week plus we have to tackle well in space. There's going to be a lot of one-on-one tackles. We have to tackle in space - that's a big time critical factor in this ball game.

You know, we are always looking to create turnovers and we've done a good job with that this year and that has to continue. We've got to create momentum from a defensive standpoint. But the thing we have to do a better job of in this game - is those chunk plays. We didn't do a good job of that against Miami. We had 51 plays where we contained them extremely well then 10 plays we gave up 282 yards. We had some turnovers that helped us as well as big plays on offense.

They are going to make plays, but we have to make them go the distance. That will be big.

You look at their defense- it's typical Florida State. Aggressive, athletic and outstanding linebackers and a bunch of guys playing in the secondary who have played a bunch of ball- and a couple of guys from South Carolina who will be jacked to play.

They've had to play some young guys up front because of injuries but they are starting to get some of those guys back together. Kyle Parker is going to have to have another big game and make some plays. In this ball game, special teams will be critical as far as the coverage units on both teams go. Ball security on special teams will be a big part of it.

They are a good team but it's really more about us because we are good enough. We don't make excuses we just try to focus on getting better and focus on our attention to detail and have a great week of preparation. Both teams will be excited to play but the most excited team won't win. The team that is prepared the best will win.

Obviously this is a big game for everybody but one of the things we tell our guys not to get caught up in the hype. This is just the next game for us and certainly everybody understands the importance but it's more about focus and what it takes to win. We are a 5-3 football team that just needs to get better and what we've got is an opportunity to get better.

I do think it's important for the kids to have fun. Looking forward to that. I hope it's a sellout. I'll be very disappointed if there is an empty seat in Death Valley. There shouldn't be seats left. Excited about Lucas Glover joining us ... he's going to run down the hill. It's not very often you have someone from your school win a major championship.

Off to a good start and looking forward to the rest of the week.

Do you have an update on Da'Quan Bowers?
Swinney: He looked pretty good yesterday. He seems to be responding well and in great spirits. He wants to play but I don't see him playing this week. If he keeps improving like he has we'll get him back sooner rather than later.

So that would mean a great opportunity for Malliciah Goodman and/or Kevin Alexander and Andre Branch?
Swinney: Sure. If you go back and look at our play counts, those guys have played a lot. It's not like Da'Quan has played every snap. We've been a pretty fortunate football team from an injury standpoint. Da'Quan is a great player but we do have depth there. Malliciah Goodman has played a bunch of snaps. Kevin Alexander has started. It's next man up and do your job. Get in there and get it done. We've got good players there. I hate Da'Quan can't play but I'm very confident in those guys.

Will there be nerves playing FSU?
Swinney: No. We don't get caught up in the logo on the helmet. It's the next game. That's what I mean by not getting caught up in the hype. That's how we change the culture. It's not like we've never beaten Florida State. I've been here six years and we are 4-2 against them. But we've got plenty of respect for these guys. They've done a great job with that program and have earned all the respect.

Has this team gotten caught up in the hype in the past when you've been close to an ACC Championship?
Swinney: Maybe. That's for y'all to evaluate.

For a long time around here the conversation about Florida State is that their talent is so far above anybody else that you had to catch them?
Swinney: Well we don't sit around and compare ourselves to Florida State. We are concerned about Clemson. I'd take our team over any other team in the conference. I don't know if that answers your question but we've proven that this year. We don't always play smart but we play hard. We aren't there yet by any stretch but I think we can line up and play ball with anybody. We have more than most but less than some. We've got some young guys but so does everybody else. You know the most talented team doesn't always win. It's the best team. You've got to have enough talent. We focus on recruiting the right kind of guys that fit Clemson. But that's for everybody else to sit around and judge everybody else.

You obviously get excited about a lot of things. Will you have to watch to keep your emotions in check Saturday?
Swinney: No. I just love competing and love preparing. Our week is so structured ... I guess if we had a lot of down time and you are sitting around and read this or that or listened to that. But for us it is so structured. The routine does not change. I will get excited when they measure us up for some rings.

Is their defense ... their numbers are pretty bad. Have they just been a victim of a big play?
Swinney: I think they've had some injuries and had to play some younger guys up front. They lose two of the real leaders ... Dakoda Watson and Thacker a veteran inside who is a tough physical guy. He's still out. They've done a much better job lately. Let me tell you something, you can throw all of those stats out of the window because all that matters is Saturday night for four quarters. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. This is Florida State. These cats know how to play football. Just like I knew after our game against Maryland that we were a better team. Florida State is a better team than what those stats say. This is Clemson/Florida State. It will be a classic.

Has this team just bought into its own hype in previous years in these situations?
Swinney: I think it goes back guys ... what do they listen to. What is their daily focus? How are they preparing? If you are sitting around thinking about the outcome of this game and all that hype kind of stuff, you are going to be jacked up to play but it's not about all of that. Emotions are a part of the game but that can't carry you for four quarters of the game. It's about execution, attention to detail, knowing what you are doing and playing with relentless effort. We talk about eliminating distractions. Clocking in. Football focus.

Is Michael Palmer getting contact now in practice?
Swinney: He will get some today. Today he'll get pad work. He's going to practice today and he's cleared. You never know until you get out there and start banging and clanging. Everybody else should be fine ... Ashe will be back. Kantrell Brown is doing much better. They are clearing him to practice this week but we'll probably hold him another ball game.

Can you comment at all about Coach Bowden and how people are talking about forcing him out?
Swinney: I don't know all the details. I don't keep up with a lot of that stuff. I can tell you this, Coach Bowden should be allowed to coach as long as he wants to coach. Florida State is on the map because of Bobby Bowden. He's been very gracious with his time. Good Lord he started coaching in the 1950's. He's been a good father. He's been a mentor for so many people. He's so sharp. He's witty. He's very into it. If people force Bobby Bowden ... it's a shame.

Have you gotten any snarky text messages from Tommy Bowden lately?
Swinney: No. Not this week.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be in Bobby Bowden's position?
Swinney: I grew up following Coach Bryant. I remember to this day and walking out of Mrs. Samford's class in the eighth grade in the hallway and hearing Coach Bryant died. I just couldn't believe it. I remember when Elvis dies. I love Elvis. I'm a big Elvis fan. Check my iPod. But let me tell you - Coach Byrant - nobody ran him out of Alabama. I look at it as the same thing. He came there and they were losing and they made them into a powerhouse. Half the rules we have right now are because of Coach Bryant because he kept finding ways. His health wasn't good but Coach Bowden is in great shape. If Bear Bryant was in good health- that sucker would have kept coaching. I believe that. He retired because of his health. Maybe there was, but I doubt it, that were calling for his head. But I doubt it. Might have been some Auburn folks. But Coach Bowden? He is Florida State. I don't remember clearly but I never knew about Florida State ever when I was growing up until Bobby Bowden got there and put them on the map. He built that program. About 83,000 seats there ... what was it before he got there?

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