Swinney Press Conference Notes from Tampa

by - Senior Writer -

TAMPA – The Clemson Tigers arrived in rainy Tampa early Friday afternoon, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney sat down with the media at Raymond James Stadium to talk about the game.

The prevailing joke around Tampa on Friday was that you can’t play a Clemson football game without the rain, and Swinney was asked if he thought the weather could be a factor.

“I'd say that's just kind of par for the course if you've been a Clemson fan this year,” Swinney laughed. “We've played in just about everything you can play for this year, downpours and extreme heat down in Miami. We're going to line up and play in whatever the weather is."

Swinney was also asked if he liked having the game in Tampa, and Swinney admitted it was hard to make a judgment this early.

"This is the first one I've ever been to,” Swinney said. “I've only been here a couple hours. We hjst got here. Tampa seems great to me. Ask me that tomorrow night. I guess they moved it down here last year. I think it goes to Charlotte next year. I just want to be in it."

The Clemson Tigers started the season 2-3 after what could have been a devastating loss at Maryland, and Swinney was asked if the Tigers grew up after that game.

“We've definitely grown up,” he said. “We've got a freshman quarterback. And we are playing better. He's definitely matured as a player. He's not nearly as good as he'll be next year or two years from now. We've gotten better offensively from an execution standpoint. A lot of that comes from maturing and execution and attention to details."

Both teams are coming off losses to their arch rival – Georgia Tech to Georgia and Clemson to South Carolina – and Swinney was asked if he thought the losses would affect the fans coming to the game, and he said that knowing Clemson fans and their passion, he would hope not.

"I would think this place would have a ton of orange in it tomorrow night,” Swinney said. “I'd be very surprised if the Clemson fans didn't show up. You can't let one game determine your happiness as far as being excited about playing in a championship game. You only get so many opportunities to play for a championship. There's one champion. It's about earning the right for postseason play. Both teams earned that.

“Yeah, we're disappointed we didn't win our rival game, but both teams have to quickly refocus. This is what you start the season wanting to do. That's what we'll both have the opportunity to play for. We had a great week of practice and we're excited about it."

The Tigers had trouble stopping Georgia Tech’s triple option attack in the first meeting back in September, and Swinney was asked if having an extra shot at the offense will make a difference, and Swinney said that having played Tech already this season makes a huge difference.

“It helps you in that most of the time you're game planning, you have played them before but a year ago,” Swinney said. “This is unique in that we're studying ourselves in playing the people we're going to play tomorrow. That's an advantage for both sides. Your kids have a good feel for who they're going to play. You can see your success and failure. Both teams will have some recall."

Swinney was asked if the extra week of preparation and they extra hype surrounding the game has affected his team, and he said not.

“We've tried to keep it business as usual,” Swinney said. “There's been a bit more media. I think they have an understanding of the magnitude of the game, but we try to focus more on their performance and doing the things that it takes to win the game, doing their job and knowing the kind of effort they're going to play with. There's been a different spirit. There's no next week. It's the end of the road for the regular season. Obviously we'll have a bowl game but it'll be a while before we play."

Swinney was finally asked if he had and predictions on whether the game would be high-scoring or not, and he laughed and responded in typical Swinney fashion.

"In college football you never say never. I'll take 2-0 right now. We'd call it quits."

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