Video: Swinney Weekly Press Conference


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Dabo Swinney – Clemson


Opening statement on Auburn

“Auburn is a very good football team in all phases, especially at home. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. They have outstanding personnel; I don’t see any weaknesses at all.

“Our focus is the same, it’s just on getting better. That was our objective last week and I think we’re better today than we were this time last Tuesday. Their offense is going to be a big challenge for us.

“Probably the biggest thing is the tempo. They play at a lightning quick tempo that really challenges you. You have to get lined up and communicate and handle all their formations and shifts.

“Everyone’s going to talk about their quarterback; he’s a great player. He’s their leading rushing; he can beat you running it and throwing it. He’s got a big arm and presents a real challenge for us. I don’t know if I’ve seen a quarterback break as many tackles as he does. We have to rally to the ball and tackle.

“If we don’t tackle well on Saturday, it’s going to be a long night. They have a veteran offensive line. They’re good at running back, wide out, tight end; they have a lot of skill. It’s going to come down to the line of scrimmage and who can dominate in that area.

“Defensively, they have nine starters back, plus that #2 (defensive back Aairon Savage), who was a starter, but has been hurt the last couple of years. They have a bunch of guys who have played a lot of football and now they’re a year or two in the system and they’re playing well. They have eight seniors amongst that group. Senior football players are better than freshmen.

“Overall, both sides of the ball, they have talented experience in key positions. A game like this will come down to special teams. We just have to play smart, play poised and go in and execute. It’s hard to go to Auburn and win, their fans will certainly support them, they’ll be jacked up and ready to play.

“We just want to get better and we’re trying to be a good team. To be a good team you have to win at home, dominate the teams you’re supposed to dominate, and go on the road and win. This is a great opportunity for us early in the year. We must have great preparation so that we have confidence we can win on the road. “


On concerns about offense

“You can only take the test you’ve been given. We’ve been given two tests and we’ve passed them. We did ok on the first one, got better on the second one and now we’re going up a level.

“I like this team. I like the character of the team and hopefully that character will reveal itself Saturday night. This team hasn’t been tested with adversity yet. We thought we could run the ball; we’ve been able to run the ball. We haven’t had to throw the ball a whole lot and when we have, we’ve been able to.

“I think our line has played well. There’s nothing that has really shocked me and surprised me at this point.”


On Playing Presbyterian before Auburn

“Our schedule is what it is. We have a difficult schedule. Not many people play two SEC that are ranked (both in top 16 right now) teams out of conference. If you line up against a nationally ranked team or open up with someone you’re supposed to beat, you have to prepare the same. That’s how it has to be. If it’s different, you get beat. That’s why you see upsets. Regardless of the opponent, it’s about us. We’re going to play 12 games, how they schedule them doesn’t matter.”


On offensive identity

“We’ve been pretty dominant on offense, but we haven’t had the ball a whole lot. That’s something that will play out through the course of the season, learning who’s going to be key playmakers. I know our identity, but when you get in ball games you have to do what you have to do to win. I like these guys. I’ve watched them practice.

“We have some experience. I’m confident because we have the guys up front, a quarterback with the knowledge he has, and two horses in the back. I don’t think this game is going to make or break our season. You win the game, the season is not over. You still have eight conference games. We are just about trying to take advantage of your opportunities.”


On new guys role in the offense

“Guys have been taking advantage of their opportunities. We’re making progress. It’s a work in progress. I think Jaron Brown has really stepped up and made some plays for us and he’s going to have to make more. Bryce McNeal has been flashy, he has the ability to get vertical, plays long and has excellent hands. (Brandon) Clear has shown up and made some nice plays, Marquan (Jones) has been consistent. There’s going to come a time where we’re going to have to throw the ball 40 times. These guys are going to respond the right way when that time comes.”


On Antoine McClain

“He played before he was ready as a freshman, we didn’t have a choice. Now he’s mentally and physically ready. He was just physically ready as a freshman. He’s our most powerful guy. He likes to play, wants to please, is very coachable and this is his year to make himself relevant nationally. He’s going to have to play dominant every week. He’s a guy we’re counting on to continue to get better.”


On Kyle Parker

“I sure am glad we have him going down there. You can’t put a price on experience. It doesn’t mean you always play well, but it means from a preparation standpoint, you’re probably not going to be overwhelmed. He’s off to a great start this week with his preparation. It’s a great opportunity for him to play well. Nobody (national media) is talking about Kyle Parker because we haven’t done anything yet. Hopefully that will change Saturday night.”


On playing night game at Auburn

“Every team is different. I don’t know how we’re going to respond yet. When I left the Georgia Tech game, I said to the staff “we have a chance to have something special.” That team last year responded to adversity in that particular game and in the season. They got stronger, they got closer.

“When adversity comes, you either get stronger or frazzle. I don’t know yet how this football team is going to handle it. We haven’t had any adversity come at us this year, so I don’t know how we’re going to respond yet. There’s going to be some crazy things to happen; that’s college football. We’re going to make some mistakes. The way you respond is critical.”


On the Auburn defense

“They do a good job being multiple with their fronts and their coverages. Number-17 (defensive back Josh Bynes) is a big dude. You don’t see many defensive backs look like him. Number-25 (linebacker Daren Bates) is a guy they have converted from safety. Number-21 (linebacker Eltoro Freeman) is kind of like Corico Hawkins. He’s not very tall, but he’s a thick guy and he can play.

“Craig Stevens was the MVP of their defense last year, but he’s been out for the first couple of games, but I assume he will play. He’s a big, tall drink of water. They’ve got an SEC type of defense. It’s going to be a challenge.”


On Clemson’s Defense against Auburn

“We’re going to have to do as good a job as we can simulating their fast paced offense and stopping Cam Newton. Our scout team will have to learn to have that discipline. You have to really do a great job with your eyes and be disciplined.

“Corico (Hawkins) played his best game at Clemson this past week and that’s a good sign. We’re getting (Brandon) Maye back but he hasn’t played yet this year. But, he is a two year starter. It’s going to be a challenge.

“You can’t simulate 6’6” 255 at quarterback. The way to prepare for that is by keeping the fundamentals. You have to do a great job of rallying to the ball.

“It needs to look like we have 12 guys on the field. If we’re consistently getting one-on-one matchups, it’s going to be difficult for us.

“They have a lot of designed runs for Newton, but as soon as you get lulled to sleep on him, they have some really good backs and they’ll rip you for a good play. He makes most of his big plays scrambling. You can do a great job covering and the next thing you know he’s made one guy miss and he’s 20 yards down the field.

“We have to be very disciplined with our rush. We can’t have the same type of rush. We have to create different looks for him. Hopefully our depth at defensive line is going to help us.”


On Brandon Clear

“He’s a big, long guy that can really get vertical down the field. We’ve seen flashes of greatness in the past at practice and it hasn’t translated on game day. He’s a repetition guy. He’s not one of those guys that just gets it. He has to practice. Hopefully he’ll continue to do that and I’m glad to see him finally have some success on game day. He made a nice catch with just one shoe on Saturday.”


On representing the ACC

“If we can go win the ball game and represent the conference, that’s great. But I’m interested in Clemson. The ACC didn’t have a good weekend last weekend, but the SEC didn’t have a good weekend the weekend before. The things that happened to Ole Miss and Virginia Tech shouldn’t happen, but they did. That’s football.


“You have to come ready to play every week. I don’t think one weekend defines a whole season. Hopefully the ACC can play better in some key games coming up and produce a great champion. Two games into the season, we’re not feeling extra pressure to be the banner carrier for the ACC. We’re just trying to win for Clemson.“

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