Swinney discusses season, future

CLEMSON - Coach Dabo Swinney makes no bones about what he hopes to accomplish each football season.

"My goal is to win them all," he said during a Tuesday afternoon teleconference.

Clemson didn't win them all this year, but ended with 9-of-14.

"I wish we could have won a couple more…I think we accomplished a lot of objectives," Swinney said. "We're a better team than we were at this time last year. We're tougher and gotten better in a lot of areas."

He said it was the "way we finished the game" against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl that he'll be happy to reflect on this offseason. According to Swinney, the 21-13 win saw solid effort on both sides of the ball.

"To go back out there and get the stop after the fake punt on us was a tremendous job by our defense," he said. "For the offense to absolutely take the air out of the ball with five minutes to go and not give it back to them, by just being able to line up and pound the rock, that's something we haven't always been able to do."

Clemson started rough at 2-3, before reeling off six consecutive wins. The Tigers streaked again, but dropped two in a row. The season ended with a good note, though.

"We made some mistakes throughout the year at critical times. You can't have those when you're trying to win a championship," Swinney said.

Looking ahead to next year, he said there's going to be a need to add playmakers on offense with the departures of C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Michael Palmer.

Players like Jaron Brown, Xavier Dye, Marquan Jones or "maybe" an incoming freshman were mentioned specifically. Dwayne Allen comes to Swinney's mind too.

The offensive line remains pretty well intact with Thomas Austin as the only starter who's not returning.

"We didn't give up near as many sacks, but we still gave up too many. That's an area we'll continue to evaluate and try to improve upon," Swinney said.

Under first-year offensive coordinator Billy Napier, the Clemson offense set a school record for point scored, though the Tigers did play 14 games--more than any other season.

"Billy has done a tremendous job. I'm very pleased with our coaches. We'll sit down, evaluate all those guys and meet with them. I couldn't be more pleased with the job Kevin (Steele) and Billy have done," Swinney said. "That's why I hired Billy. I had all the confidence in the world that he would do a great job."

Defensively, he's excited about Steele's return, which allows for another year for the players to get used to his system.

"We've got a good nucleus of guys coming back that have played a lot of defensive snaps for us, but really taking the system to another level of teaching and understanding with those guys," Swinney said.

Consistency in the kicking game remains an area that warrants improvement. Swinney likes the options he's got coming back in the return facet, but would like to see better place kicking and punting.

"We had a lot of good moments throughout the year with Richard (Jackson). Certainly we have to get a lot more consistent there to win a championship," he said. "I think we've got to become a more consistent punting team with our punter.

"Those are some critical areas we have to improve upon."

Tajh Boyd will start the spring as the second-team quarterback. Swinney anticipates Parker returning to the football field next fall, though Boyd will benefit greatly from the work during spring practice.

"Kyle's situation doesn't affect Tajh, as to how we're going to prepare him," Swinney said.

As far as signing a quarterback in the 2010 class, "all options are on the table."

"Michael Wade is a good player. I have all the confidence in the world for Mike to be able to go in there and compete…we've got a couple of walk-ons on campus that we need to be able to evaluate more this spring," Swinney said. "We were high on them, bringing them in here--that's why we invited them. This spring, we've got to be able to gauge where they are."

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