Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript


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Audio of Dabo Swinney's teleconference (MP3 Format)

COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you guys
today. Again, this is just a big, big game for us
coming up versus Maryland. In terms of our goals,
big game for both teams, obviously a division
game, and this is a tough place to go play and a
very capable football team, a team that has beaten
Miami. They've got a couple tough losses, one to
the 12th ranked team in the country and one to the
13th ranked team in the country. We've got
another big challenge ahead of us this week
getting ready for a very solid Maryland team.

With that, I'll take whatever questions
you've got.

Q. Can you talk about trying to prepare
for Maryland's offense given that they've got
two quarterbacks playing now with two seems
to be pretty different styles of play, the really
mobile quarterback and then you've got kind of
the pocket passer?


COACH SWINNEY: Yeah, it's a
challenge. It's definitely a challenge, and obviously
we hadn't seen much of the other guy until
Saturday. He's the second leading rusher on the
team after 11 carries, so he's pretty impressive at
what he can do.

They've actually run the zone read a
bunch, I mean, a ton, even with O'Brien. But he
just hasn't run it as much as far as keeping the
ball. You know, that's definitely a challenge for us
as far as, you know, having to prepare for both
styles, but it is what it is, and we've got to make
sure we're ready.

Q. In watching film of Maryland, their
defensive tackle Joe Vellano had just an
outstanding game against Georgia Tech, was
all over the field. I wondered what you thought
of him, and how do you prepare for a guy who
just looks like he tackles everything in sight?


COACH SWINNEY: It's not -- it's a rare
thing when you see a defensive tackle have 20
tackles. That's really amazing. That's just kind of
epitomizes the kind of player that he is. He's a
high-motor, high-energy, aggressive,
going-to-play-every-snap kind of guy. That's what
all those great ones have in common. They play
every down, and he's got a lot of ability, and he's a
guy that's a challenge for us, kind of like our guy.

Our guy is a load in there, as well, in
Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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. Again, the kind of game he
had last week is one that as a D-tackle you would
dream about. But we'll have to play well up front,
and our guys are getting better. I think that we
probably played our best game Saturday up front,
and hopefully we can continue that trend and make
sure that we don't have too many just one-on-ones
with 72.

Q. I'm sure you addressed this
yesterday, but are you expecting Tajh to be
able to start on Saturday?

COACH SWINNEY: Yeah, he's fine.

Q. Where is Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
RS So. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 200
Greenville, SC

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in his
progress this year? Is he going to progress the
way you like to see him this season?

COACH SWINNEY: Oh, yeah, shoot, he's
14th in the country in kicking field goals. He's
having a great year, and he's only missed two. I
think he's 9 of 11 or 10 of 12 on the year. 10 of 12,
I think, so he's having a heck of a year, and
80-something percent as far as his percentage
goes. He obviously had a big game Saturday,
kicked five field goals, which were all big kicks.
He's doing a good job for us, and I'm proud of him,
especially to be honest with you, he's got one of
the best percentages ever at Clemson from 40
yards and out. That's what's been pretty amazing
with him. So he's been very accurate, and he's
also doing a little bit of kicking off now that Benton
is hurt, and he's having to be our backup punter.
So we're asking a lot of Catanzaro.

Q. Has it been -- was it a matter of his
improvement over last year a matter of
confidence or some technique things.

COACH SWINNEY: I think it all goes -- first of all, it starts with the snap, just having
consistency with your snap and your hold, and
we've got a good battery there that they've worked
well together. He's got a lot of confidence in
Dawson holding and Spencer BentonSpencer Benton
RS Jr. Punter / Kicker
#13 6-2, 195
Myrtle Beach, SC

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, so he's
worked with those guys all spring.

I think the biggest thing is last year he was
a freshman, and it's -- it's tough to be a freshman,
especially when you don't have some early
success, and sometimes that ball gets rolling
against you, and he was so different than anything
else last year really with our team. We just didn't
have a good year, and he didn't have a good
freshman year, but what was encouraging with
Catanzaro is when I saw him practice every day.
He just wasn't quite transferring it to the game
field. The mental part of it is a big part of it, and I
think he just grew, and he's mentally tougher, and
he certainly worked hard on his technique and
timing and approach and all that stuff. But this is
really what he's done in practice since he's gotten
here. He's just now kind of taking another step
and transferring it to the game field. So hopefully
he'll continue to do that. I really believe he's got a
chance to be a very, very consistent kicker
throughout his career.

Q. You said you thought that was the
best game you guys have played all year last
week. What made you think that?

COACH SWINNEY: It was the most
complete game. That's the closest we've been
offensively, defensively, special teams, to really
putting in all together. I mean, we were very, very
close to being outstanding Saturday. We had
some mistakes in all areas that we worked on, but
just definitely the closest we've been to putting all
three phases together, and that was encouraging
to see.

Q. I was looking at the numbers
nationally, how many true freshman have been
seeing the field, and there's some really
prominent programs, including yours, that are
in double-digit freshmen. I just wondered
what's going on with all that anyway? What do
you make of it not only in your program but
elsewhere?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, I can't really
speak for other places, but I know what's going on
with us, and that is just -- it's just a product of when
I got this job, and we didn't have -- obviously you
get the job as an interim, your recruiting class is
kind of shot, and I didn't have a lot of time to go
and recruit for the February of '09 class, and so we
only signed 12 guys that year. We just kind of
pushed some scholarships forward, and then
even -- and then we spent the whole next year
really signing our first true class February of '10,
and we didn't sign a full class then, either. I think
we signed 19, and we brought 19 in, but we had a
few more spots. We pushed those scholarships
forward, so we went out, but we -- really what we
were playing for is this February of '11 signing
class, and we signed a big class, brought in 27
new Clemson Tigers.


Just from a numbers standpoint, we were
going to have to have some guys step up and play.
We didn't necessarily need a lot of them to come in
and start, but we were going to have to rely on a
lot of these guys to provide depth for us as true
freshmen, just because of the way our roster is set
up. We've got 42 true freshmen and red shirt
freshmen on our roster, and that's just a product of
how we've recruited and managed our numbers
the last two years. That's our deal. And I think
that we've recruited the right kind of guys. We've
done a good job, I think, of evaluating. You'll miss
on a guy here or there, but I think for the most part
we've been very good, and these guys are as
advertised, and they have opportunity, and so
they've been able to come in here and help us.

But we really didn't have any other choice.
We were going to have to rely on young depth, so
for us, I think we've played 13 true freshmen and I
think we've played 16 red shirt freshmen. We've
had 29 freshmen suit up for us this year.

Q. Are kids generally maybe more
ready to play than they were, say, 20 years ago
coming in?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, you know, I
think it's all relative to the times. I mean, 20 years
ago you didn't have the emphasis on the strength
and conditioning like you have now, but you didn't
have it in college, either. I mean, it was more, but
not like it is now. So I think it's all relative.

Just, again, for us the last two years we
didn't play many freshmen. I think last year we
played four, and my first year we played three as
far as true freshmen goes. But we just had a huge
need this year from a depth standpoint at some
critical positions in the defensive line, linebacker, at
receiver, at running back, even at quarterback for
us. Our backup is a true freshman. I think it just
depends on everybody's roster, and then there
may be some programs out there that maybe just
missed on a bunch of guys, and from a talent
standpoint, some of these guys were just better.
But it just depends. Some guys are ready to go
physically, and other guys aren't.

And then a lot of it is just opportunity, as
well.

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