Opening comments ...
Swinney: Good to be back with you guys today. Good team win this past week. Real proud of our guys, defensively, we held those guys to 17 points. It's a great job by our defense with the five takeaways. Offensively we are very pleased with our balance, I think it was 242, 241 run to pass. That leads to explosive plays when you can keep a team off-balance. We were really about four plays away from playing our best game of the year offensively.
A lot of good things from that game. This is a very resilient team. When you are resilient you have the ability to handle disappointments and handle setbacks. They just keep on keeping on. They did a good job of not getting caught up in the moment. The players of the game were C.J. Spiller on offense and Kevin Alexander on defense and Skinner on special teams.
I came in here early Sunday morning, around 7:15 or so. It looked like Beruit on this campus. I've never seen so much garbage and trash. It looked like a war zone ... it was unbelievable. But I saw all these people scurrying all over campus and I had to fly out at 1:30 on Sunday and I made a comment to Woody when I drove out to the airport- it was spotless. I just want to thank those people. I don't know who they are. It's unbelievable the job they did to make Clemson this beautiful place.
At 7:30 in the morning and it looked like a dump. At 1:30 it was a beautiful place. Also want to thank law enforcement for getting people out of here. My brother is in law enforcement so I understand.
Also want to thank Lucas Glover ... he sent me a text Saturday night and said thanks and that it was the highlight of his life. Hope to have him back again. We'll let him win one more major then invite him back.
N.C. State is starting to play some good ball, especially at home. Four of their five wins have come at home. They beat Pittsburgh - and they are a really good team. It's another quarterback- another top 20 quarterback for us. This kid here is extremely dangerous and capable. They lost 45-42 in Tallahassee in the last minute to Florida State. They've had some tough losses but they are playing hard.
There's a lot on the line here for them. They have to win for a bowl. There's a lot on the line for both teams. Again- playing very very well playing 33 a game. Running back, Toney Baker, might be the best running back we've played. Very tough runner who is hard to tackle. Tight end has a bunch of catches. No. 5 has a bunch of catches.
Defensively they are a veteran front. All seniors and very young in the backend but they aren't young anymore and they've played a lot of games now and they are getting better. When you play as many freshmen and sophomores as they play, you'll have growing pains but they are maturing and doing a super job.
Special teams they have an outstanding return guy in No. 6. My challenge to the team is we need to go on the road and play a complete football game and we've yet to do that. We played a complete half at Georgia Tech. We didn't play at Maryland. Miami- we overcame a lot of mistakes, including three turnovers inside the 25, gave up 282 yards on 10 plays before we made enough plays to overcome mistakes. So my challenge to the team is we need to go on the road and play a complete football game and try to keep improving.
11 days to the ACC division line. A lot is at stake. Coach O'Brien and their program has partnered up with Coke and Harris-Teeter for Toys for Tots. Coach O'Brien asked me to mention this ... they will be collecting those at the stadium Saturday with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up so I want to encourage everybody to participate in that. That's a great thing they are doing - so bring a new, unwrapped toy to the fan zone up there. You can also make a cash donation so I hope the Clemson nation will join hands to support that initiative.
You talked about being resilient, was the Georgia Tech game this year when you think this team first truly showed that?
Swinney: I hope so. Some of those questions are easier to answer when you see the picture after the season. I don't think there's any question ... I've been saying it since day one. This is a different team and a team that has the chance to be special. Don't panic. Be careful of what you listen to. They've done that. They've made a choice to listen to the right things, believe the right things. We've got excellent senior leadership and young leadership. That's the first time I saw was at Georgia Tech in the locker room when it was 24-7. It's been that way all year. We are 10 points away from being undefeated ... it's not like we've been pushed around or anything like that. We've grown a lot and are a very close team. We are really starting to develop the kind of confidence you need to be a consistent winner. No matter what has happened, they've come to practice and responded and moved on. The Maryland game in particular was a time when people were saying this and saying that. But the important thing is these kids grew through that.
Is that the same message you deliver now to Richard Jackson after what happened Saturday night with the missed kicks?
Swinney: Yes. Absolutely. Remember what got you where you are. Kind of like Xavier Dye. You are first team for a reason. We know Richard Jackson and Spencer Benton can boom the ball. It's just mental. They will be alright. They will be fine.
You are tied in the nation for interceptions ... you have six non-offensive touchdowns this year. That has to be gratifying to see those kinds of things. That has to be exciting for you.
Swinney: It all starts up front. I give them all the credit in the world for that. We have improved. Last year all everybody was saying that none of those guys were no good. You know, offensive line it usually takes a little longer for them to become dominant. We have seven guys who have been rolling in there who have developed into a really strong unit. That has allowed us to do what we do. Billy [Napier] has done a phenomenal job with Kyle. Kyle- he makes mistakes but he learns from it. He's got a lot of savvy to him. But it all starts up front. Defensively, we lead the conference in sacks while last year we were last. It all goes hand in hand. What happens on the front end effects the back end.
Do you have to get creative now because teams have so much film of you nine or 10 games into the season?
Swinney: We do a self scout every week. That's something we believe strongly in to make sure we use tendencies to our advantage. You have a bread butter on what you do so this is who you are and what you do but you still have to block a guy. You still have to tackle. You still have to catch it. We self scout defense and offense. Are we creating a tendency on this down? On the boundary or on the field? You always look at those things.
You've talked about this throughout the season ... C.J. is obviously hurting at times during the game. Is it starting to defy even your descriptions doing what he's doing and not being 100 percent?
Swinney: Yes. He's played hurt. He's missed one game in his career- ever. That was Georgia Tech last year. He's 300 something yards you are going to be tired and gassed and probably a little beat up. Thursdays he's usually pretty good but by the end of the game he's sore again. His play speaks for itself. He's a quiet humble young man but he's a hard guy to stop
Can you speak to the emergence of Andre Ellington?
Swinney: He's been great all year. He's been doing that all year. Jamie Harper got hurt and we were really just down to two guys. He stepped up big time. He's an electric little player. He's tough and hard to tackle. That one run he ran through the defensive end. Catches the ball well. Doesn't make many mistakes. He's going to be a really good one. We've got good young backs. Rod McDowell- I'm going to tell you right now you guys are going to love this kid. Him and Andre are like clones.
You've scored 38 points or more for four consecutive games in a row, which has never been done before at Clemson. What has created this new offense?
Swinney: Execution. Doing it better. Nothing else changed. earlier in the year it was dropped ball. Missed assignment. Penalties. During the open date we went through it all ... put the film up and showed the offense what the defense was doing wrong and vice-versa. We wanted everybody to be held accountable. Do your job and understand the importance of every play. Every play is designed to score. We've become an offense that is now executing much much better. We had four plays the other night from having our best game of the year. We'll have bad calls from time to time but you have to overcome that. It's been a team that has really grown from execution. Wish I could tell you something else but that's all it is.
You have to feel good for a player like Xavier Dye, don't you?
Swinney: You don't quit. That's a great Xavier Dye because he quit. But I give him credit because he realized he made a mistake. You step up. You look in the mirror. He was looking at all the right things. Xavier Dye was the starter and he earned that. [He comes in one day and says] he's transferring to California. Give me a break. Your problems are going to California with you. You need to just go back to work and do your job to get yourself back on the first team. He kind of lost his belief in himself. I give that kid all the credit in the world. He came in there, heck I thought he was gone, but then he slept it on it a day or two and he came in and said, "coach I'm crazy." I said, "yeah you are." I told him to go back to work. I k now that he's learned a lesson he'll carry with him the rest of his life. He'll be telling some young kid 20 years from now that story. He'll understand the big picture.
You seem to take a lot of pride in dealing with your players when they are faced with adversity.
Swinney: Well I love these guys. Jacoby [after dropping a big pass last weekend against FSU]- let's get it back on the next play. Just keep on keeping on. We all have setbacks and we all have disappointments and we always will. Misfortune is inevitable. Misery is optional. There's never been a truer statement. These are kids. Sometimes people look at these guys like they are ... I don't know. I challenge them. I'm not one that throws a lot of pity parties. I want to see these young men develop tools for handling life. Billy Graham said one time a coach influences more lives in a year than most people in a lifetime. So that's a big deal. That's what I enjoy more than anything is dealing with these guys and the relationship.
Do you get the sense that you've turned the fans back in your favor now after reading the mail and everything else that comes in?
Swinney: I don't read any negative mail. If you are out there and you send me something negative, I don't read it. If you send something nice, it will get to me and I try to respond. Any of that negative stuff- I don't know where it goes. I guess Andy Johnston or Woody. I don't have time for all of that.
Can you talk about what Jacoby and C.J. have meant to this program?
Swinney: Jacoby was one of those quiet kids. Good player in high school but his recruitment was kind of quiet. He's meant everything. C.J. - is a program changer. Unless he robs a bank or something he's going up there in the Ring of Honor. Short of armed robbery he's probably going to end up on that stadium. He's going to graduate in three and a half years. You won't find a better person. He's changed the program here. That's a neat thing for that kid. He prays on every decision he makes. I'm really proud of him. I tell him all the time, I've only got 19 more days here. What am I going to do?
Will you have to even preach to the guys how important this game is?
Swinney: I mean, it's November. November 10. They know. Everybody knows what's at stake. How could you not. We got all of our goals. We'll have an opportunity in winning a bowl game but we have other things to win at this point and we are still focused on No. 2 over there- winning this division. They all know what's at stake.
It seemed your defense was getting after each other during the game against FSU. What was going on there?
Swinney: They were mad. It was a 16-play drive. We just needed to refocus a bit. That's all. They just all needed to get on the same page again. Let's go to the next play ... it's a long game and let's go back to work. They did that. Did a great job.
Do you think Bowers will play this weekend?
Swinney: Probably not but maybe. It's hard. He wants to play. He jogged around yesterday. My gut is he probably won't.
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