Swinney, Groh Weekly Press Conference Quotes


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Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney Quotes

Q: Opening remarks.

A: "I’m really proud of how the guys played against Duke. It was a complete game and
I think the best game of the year for us on both sides of the ball. I’m really happy how the
players responded after a difficult road game at Tallahassee, in particular the defense.
We did a lot of good things in the game. A lot of guys played really well. We were the
more physical team. We didn’t turn it over. If we can continue to do that, we’ll have a
chance to win consistently.

"We’ve gotten better offensively. We’re scoring points. We were able to play a lot of
guys to start developing depth. The morale is good. It’s always good for practice when
guys can see themselves on tape. As far as practice this week, we got off to a good start
yesterday. We had some mistakes that we corrected and talked about. Practice was good
last night. Hopefully we can come out today and be sharp with a good tempo.

"We’re getting a good feel for Virginia. I feel good about where we’re heading as far as
our plans offensively and defensively. We’re healthy. That’s something that has plagued
us throughout the season. We’re probably as healthy as we’ve been. The focus this week
is on seeing if we can have another complete game on the road. I like to see us do what
we did (last Saturday) on the road. I want to create good habits. Winning becomes a
habit.

"Virginia is very good at home. They beat North Carolina, Maryland, and East Carolina
at home. They are a very capable opponent. To play at their place definitely gives them a
great advantage. It’s a tough place to play. They’re second in the league in sacks.
They’ve got some good players up front. (Linebacker Clint) Sintim is a first-round draft
pick. We’ve got to know where he is. Offensively, they’re very well coached. They’re
throwing the ball all over the place. They’re second in the league in passing, right behind
us. They will get five (receivers) out on you. It will be a good matchup."

Q: On win Saturday against Duke.

A: "I attribute it (the win) to character. We have good kids on this team. They work
hard everyday and want to win. I’m not surprised as far as how they rallied together and
bought in to what we’re trying to do. There is no finger pointing or whining and
moaning. Everyone is going to work. This team could have split a long time ago, but they
haven’t. I’m proud of the guys. I’m proud of the seniors."

Q: On Virginia.

A: "They haven’t been good at turnovers just like us. The biggest thing for them is to
continue to protect. The best chance for them to win is to spread the ball out. They can
protect they are among the best teams in the nation in avoiding sacks. They are better
pass protectors. The key for them will be their offensive line and ours will be our
defensive line."

Q: On having the same starting offensive line for the second game in a row.

A: "It’s critical because you have to get guys comfortable working with each other.
Thomas Austin played a great game (against Duke). He did a phenomenal job. We
voted him (offensive) player-of-the-game. Having those five guys on the same page and
getting better is good. Bobby Hutchinson has gotten it done in there. He’s held up. That
has been a great move for us. I’m really proud of the offensive line."

Q: On running back C.J. Spiller.

A: "I think he’s the best player in this conference. He is a great football player. He’s
matured in front of our eyes. C.J. has learned the game. He’s a great receiver out of the
backfield. He’s got a special skill-set. He’s incredibly fast. What he’s done this year has
set a statement and he’s put himself on the map."

Q: On quarterback Cullen Harper.

A: "It was the best game he played all year. He made great decisions. He threw some
big-time throws. I’m proud of him. He’s playing looser and with confidence. He’s
making plays with his legs. He scrambles and creates a play. That’s a credit to the
receivers and to Cullen. He’s done a really good job."

Q: On tight end Michael Palmer.

A: "He does everything well. He’s a good blocker, receiver, route runner, and in motion.
He’s a good protector. He’s a hard worker and very smart. He has great football
instincts. It’s been really nice to see him make some plays. Michael is a complete player.
He’s a very important part of what we do."

Q: On linebacker Brandon Maye.

A: "Brandon had a really good game Saturday. He’s maturing. He’s a freshman that is
playing a lot. Brandon is a young player that keeps showing up."


Virginia Head Coach Al Groh Quotes


Q: Clint Sintim said earlier today that it was a good week for everybody (to have a
bye week). Do you kind of feel the same way?

Groh: It was. The players were very focused, especially the first two days. Our goal was
just to not look at it like on an extended period of time, but just have a good practice each
day. And to start with the attitude that usually is the foundation of those type of practices;
the players responded as was requested and as was necessary, which was obviously a
very positive sign that we could really have their attention on what the possibilities are
coming up.

Q: John Phillips was talking about one play, I guess a pass play you’ve run 12 times
this season, and every time it’s worked and gotten yards. Do you have breakdowns
of every play you’ve run, how many yards you’ve gained and how much does that
go into your game plan at this point in the season when you have a big body of
work?

Groh: We do. Sure, quite a bit. Obviously we would like to continue to do what we have
found out that we can do well; we ‘d like to do less of what we found out that we’re not
doing as well. Sometimes it’s things that we did very well in the past but the current
personnel perhaps is not such that it plays to their strength. Or sometimes we uncover
certain things as the season goes on that, ‘gee, this particular team and this particular
player seems to have a good disposition to doing this well.’ Sometimes we find out that
we’re doing something an awful lot in a particular circumstance and so we might do
something different the next time.
We might, let’s just say theoretically, we uncover that there is a certain down and
distance on which we’ve never run the ball. Then in the next game, we might just run the
ball in that circumstance and everybody is going to boo because they can’t understand
why we ran it. Well, sometimes you just do to break the tendency.

Q: What kind of adjustments do you guys have to make with an offense that’s
potentially explosive as Clemson’s is?

Groh: Well, certainly they’re eye catching (with) the speed that’s there. There is clearly a
well thought out plan to get the ball frequently to those players who can cause a defense a
lot of trouble on a one-play basis. And that‘s what they do.
That’s probably one of the reasons why Clemson was so highly rated going into the
season because there is a lot of them. Obviously with (Aaron) Kelly we have the all time
leading receiver in the conference, we have two outstanding backs, maybe the two best
backs in the conference, on the same team. Certainly the fastest back if we go by
confirmed NCAA results. And a very, very fast receiver who I think he ‘s got 44-45 times
but he is not a marquee player just because he’s just kind of got to wait his turn till these
other three move out of the way a little bit. But we are very familiar with him as a player
from when he was at Fork Union, so there’s a lot of firepower.

Q: You mentioned previously where Clemson was in the preseason. Are you
surprised to see where they are at this point in the season, given what they had in
the preseason?

Groh: I think a lot of people probably were there at midseason. It’s one of those things
that, was the team not winning games or were they playing bad ball? They were just not
winning games; they lost a very close game to Maryland, they lost a very close game to
Georgia Tech, they lost a very close game to Wake Forest. Those are all the kind of
games that determine what shows up on the ledger.
But, in fact a play or two here or there doesn’t change how the team played it just
changes the results. They weren’t playing bad football, obviously they weren’t
dominating with that personnel, but now they clearly are on track the way they’ve played
here recently, particularly on offense.

Q: Because C.J. Spiller can do so many different things, is he just about the most
dangerous guy you’ve faced this year?

Groh: Very definitely. There has been no more dangerous kick returner that we’ve
played. There certainly is no more dangerous runner that we’ve played. And as he has
indicated here of late—he’s had an 83-yard touchdown catch against Duke. He had a 50-
something catch against Boston College, so he’s doing all the things that the most
dangerous wide receivers do and things that hardly any backs can do.

Q: Your seniors have played Wyoming twice, Pittsburgh twice, Connecticut twice,
but they’ve never played Clemson. Is that one of the just unavoidable negatives of
expansion that you’re just going to have these period where you don’t play teams in
your same conference?

Groh: Yes. I think coaches probably stay pretty well versed on what’s going on around
the conference. Obviously you’re going to know your constant opponents better than
somebody that you haven’t (played). But in the cross over of game tapes and what not,
clearly you’re not going to be an expert on the team you haven’t studied, but you have a
pretty good sense of, ‘hey, this the system that this team runs.’
But for players because there is, what is it a four-year interval with the cross over
games?, players can very much be out of touch with teams in their own conference.
Particularly this one in this particular circumstance because of the geographical
separation of these two teams and where the pool of players on their rosters come from;
there are probably very few players on either team that were recruited by the other team.

Q: Given that Tommy Bowden was among the longer tenured coaches in the league,
will it be strange not be playing against him?

Groh: It will be, One of the plus signs of teams that you don’t play very often is … we
see the coaches two or three times at conference events, but not really competitive
(situations). There have been no results here recently so I’ve always enjoyed Tommy’s
company.

Q: This is the last home game for the seniors. I guess every group is special but do
you have a sense that this group is particularly close?

Groh: This group really seems to be, and has throughout the season, … overtly wearing
their status. ‘We’re the seniors, we have a lot of responsibility and this is really
significant to us. We’ve been here through a lot and this is the last time through.’
You can clearly see that it’s been part of their group personality throughout. I think that
had a lot to do with their holding course and giving direction here through early stages of
the season.

Q: The seniors spoke about the tradition of speaking to the team before their final
home game. On those occasions have there been times when you learn something
about a player that you didn’t know before?

Groh: All of us who are in the room when that occurs learn about the player’s feelings
about his experience and in particular about his teammates. There have been on occasion
some pretty emotional exchanges about what being part of the program has meant to the
player and the relationships that he’s established with his teammates.
From our standpoint a lot of times it’s been very reassuring that what we have been trying
to create in terms of the unity of team and the commitment to each other and becoming
part of the culture that we’re trying to establish has taken place and when you hear it
come directly from them without prompting from their hearts, it is reassuring.

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