Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript


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COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you
guys again this week.


Well, this is another opportunity for us to go on the road. We have not been a road team
this year. Tough task to go down and play in
Tallahassee. It will be a night game, a great
atmosphere I'm sure. We're going to have to play
our best game to be able to win down there.
But our focus is just on trying to get better
as a team and try to have the best finish as we
possibly can. It's the biggest game of the year for
us because it's the next one, and we're trying to
have that good finish. Gets us eligible for a Bowl if
we can win this one. Certainly keeps us alive in
our conference. Same for Florida State. So a lot
on the line for both teams.

We're going to have to play very well. But
we're looking forward to it. So far we're having a
good week of preparation.

With that, I'll take whatever questions you
have.


Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about
Da'Quan Bowers. He's putting up remarkable
numbers as a pass-rusher. I'm correct, he
blocked the kick earlier in the game, right?


COACH SWINNEY: I believe it was Jarvis
Jenkins that got his firsthand on it, but Da'Quan
was right there as well.

Q. Can you talk about him as a
pass-rusher, what he's brought? His numbers
are out of sight.


COACH SWINNEY: Well, he's come into
his own this year. He's been a good player his first
two years here. But this has been a year, like a lot
of players, the light kind of goes on for him. Not
just on game day, but just the off-season, how they
prepare, take care of their bodies, the commitment,
all that type of stuff, knowledge of the game,
studying the game. Those are the areas where
Da'Quan really grew up in. He played at 290
pounds this year. He's been playing about 273 this
year. He's a very smart player, but has worked
really hard in studying and preparing every week.
He's playing like a man on a mission.

When you put great work ethic with great talent,
most of the time you get a great player. That's
what the case has been for Da'Quan. Awful proud
of the season that he's had. If he continues to play
and finish the season like he started it, he's going
to put himself in contention to win some of those
post-season awards.

Q. I know it takes a combination of all
these things to make a guy that successful.
Out of strength and quickness or technique,
what area does he really excel in?


COACH SWINNEY: Size, speed and
explosiveness, the combination, athleticism to go
with it. I mean, you just don't find many guys 274
pounds that can run like Da'Quan, can change
direction like Da'Quan, and have the power and
explosiveness in their hips like Da'Quan does.
That's what makes him special. He can speed
rush you or he can turn that speed into power and
get up underneath you. He's strong enough to bull
you.

When you put a high motor with it, you got
a tough day's work. He's just put it all together. In
the past, he has shown flashes of that, but then he
would not be consistent with his effort, things like
that. This year, he's been at a different level.


Q. Coach, I'm sure you've seen reports
that Christian Ponder has had to miss a little
practice time at the start of the week and is day
to day. I guess you have the luxury of having
some film on EJ Manuel. How much are they
alike or different to prepare for? Are you
preparing as if Ponder is playing?


COACH SWINNEY: We're just preparing
what they do offensively because it's not going to
matter who's under center. They're going to do
what they do regardless. They're similar players in
that regard. I mean, they're both big guys. Both
can run well. We played a little bit against Manuel
last year. We certainly have watched their Bowl
game from last year. He was the MVP of that
game, I believe, and a good player.

He's played a little bit this year. But
Ponder is the leader of their team. That's an
obvious thing you're going to keep up with day to
day. Here is a guy, he's a redshirt senior. He's got
a tremendous amount of experience, a lot of
success. I think this is the best offense we've
played all year.

So definitely he's the starter for a reason.
But Manuel is a very good player, and he's just
waiting his time. If he plays this week, they're not
going to change what they do or become
something different. We have to prepare for what
we've seen.


Q. The play last year where Ponder was
hurt after the interception, some guys might
not have gone out there and tried to knock
DeAndre out of bounds. What did that say to you that I don't think it crossed his mind to let
it go at that point in the game?


COACH SWINNEY: Christian Ponder is a
guy that every coach would love to coach, I can tell
you that. He's a true competitor. I have a ton of
respect for him. He's been a very good player,
handles himself the right way. He plays the game
the way you're supposed to play it. He may make
mistakes, do this or that, but that sucker plays hard
and he competes all the way to the end.

That particular play, the game was over at
that particular point. He is still laying it on the line.
There's a lot of guys that kind of would have gone
over there, dove at his ankles, gone over and tried
not to make the tackle. Not surprised at all that he
went over there and tried to take his frustration out
on DeAndre.


Q. Offensively are you looking for any
certain things to improve upon after the last
few weeks?


COACH SWINNEY: We just got to finish
in the red zone. That's our big Achilles' heel. We
really were doing very well for most of the year.
We're really struggling with our kickers right now in
putting it between the pipes. That's the big thing.
When you have long drives, 12-, 15-play drives,
you get no points, it's very deflating.

We have to execute a little bit better as an
offense. We've done some good things, but we've
been shooting ourselves in the foot. This past
week we put it on the ground five times. But we're
growing up in some areas. KP played a very good
game this past week. We're going to need him to
play well. We're growing up at receiver. We got a
couple of freshmen that are stepping up big-time
for us and are continuing to get better.

So we've made some progress. But for us
on offense, it's about executing, getting 11 guys to
do their job, stop shooting ourselves in the foot.
We need to get a little bit of help from our kicking
unit, as well.


Q. Coach, probably for the first time
since you were a preschooler, this game is
going to be played without a Bowden on one
sideline, or two for that matter. There's
probably a little bit of that influence from that
family in what goes on with your coaching.


COACH SWINNEY: Oh, yeah. I got a ton
of respect for the whole Bowden family. I had the
privilege of working for Tommy, also played for him
for a year. But Coach Bobby Bowden, he's a guy
that I've respected for years and years and years,
even when I was a player, got into coaching,
started studying the coaching profession, all that
stuff. He's just an icon.

Real privilege for me to have been able to
get to know him first through Tommy and then
obviously with the transition here and all that. He's
just been first class all the way. Been good to my
family. It's going to be different.

One of the things I'll never forget is being a
part of that game last year here at Clemson, his
last game as the head coach here at Death Valley,
that's something I'll never forget. I was just visiting
with him before the game and after the game. Just
a gracious man that's given this game, the game of
football, so much.

His influence will still be greatly felt down
there in Tallahassee, there's no doubt about it.
Even though he won't be there, he'll be in a lot of
people's thoughts, I'm sure.


Q. Can you tell me what your time with
Tommy, any particular influence he had in what
you do every day as a coach?


COACH SWINNEY: Coach Bowden was
just a great person in how he dealt with the staff.
He really treated everybody with a lot of respect.
Genuine guy. Loved his family. Really set a great
example to me as a father, how he dealt with his
children, how he dealt with adversity. He was a
great example of applying your faith to your daily
walk. Also just seeing his relationship with his
father was very inspiring to me.

A lot of the things that Tommy did and
brought into the program were obviously things
that Bobby Bowden, he grew up watching his dad
do. Some of those things we still keep as a part of
our program and always will, some of the things we
may do in pregame, things like that. There's a lot
of things that I learned from Tommy Bowden and
Bobby Bowden.

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