Swinney ACC teleconference transcript

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Position: Head Coach

DABO SWINNEY: Well, another really big challenge for us this
week. It's an exciting week here in our state. We kind of battle
it out for the state championship, and it should be a great game
down there, two good football teams that both are going to want to
get this tenth win. Should be a classic game in Columbia. This
is as good a defense as there is in the country, really in every
area, and offensively their quarterback has gained confidence
every week, they're running the ball effectively and doing a
really good job of finding ways to win.

This is a big challenge for us, especially going down there on
the road. But really excited about having an opportunity to
hopefully go play better. We did not play well at all this past
weekend, and it's going to take a much, much better performance on
our part to even have a chance to win this game. Really looking
forward to the opportunity.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q. You've obviously got this game, then you've got a big ACC
title game next week. How concerned are you about the play of
late by your team, and are you kind of worried that you're not
peaking at the right time, so to speak?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, I'm real concerned, but it's not anything
that we certainly can't fix. I mean, we've just been a team that
has kind of self-imploded. It's just hard to -- I mean, there's
always things to get better at and to improve upon. When you win,
even when you play great. But for us, it's very simple: We've
had 11 turnovers in three games. We probably lead the nation. I
don't know that. If we don't lead the nation, we've got to be in
the top three in the last three games, and we haven't forced many

Really, none of the rest of it really matters a whole lot until
you give yourself a chance to win. So we've got to get back to
just taking care of the football. The first eight games we only
had six and the whole deal, and we won. So we've proven that when
we're a good ball security team, we've got a really good chance to

That's my biggest concern is just how we have -- the critical
mistakes that we've made in the last few games, penalties,
turnovers, you know, given up a couple plays on punt -- with our
punt team. That's not winning football. But you know, we've had
a good season, and the good news is we've played way more good
football than we have bad football, and that's what we've got to
get back to this week to have a chance to finish this season the
way we want to and have a great championship run.

Q. Anything on the defensive side of the ball that concerns
you or you kind of figure once the turnovers stop the field
position will be different?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, again, it's -- there's certainly things
that, yeah, we've got to improve in every area, but until you give
yourself a chance, I mean, it's hard to go play defense when you
get the ball on the 6, the 11, the 15, the 16, whatever it was,
back to back to back, and those are things that you just can't do
and beat good, solid football teams, especially on the road.

Two of our losses, both of our losses have been on the road, and
we had four turnovers in both of those games. Defensively the
other night, shoot, we played as good a first quarter, probably
quarter and a half to be honest with you, as we've played all
year. But we just could not put it together as a team. You know,
it's a team game, and we've got to get back to playing Clemson
football. That's the bottom line. It's about execution and guys
playing within the system and doing their job.

Q. Obviously this is the way it's always going to be when
you're playing for the Conference Championship, that you play
South Carolina immediately before that. But in theory would you
rather have immediately before a championship game a game without
such high stakes as this one, whereby you could rest players, et
cetera? Does this sort of complicate the situation to have a game
that's of such importance to your populous in advance of one
that's so important to your team, as well?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, I've never bought into that. I know there's
a lot of coaches out there who do, and listen, they're all big.
Every game is critical. Every game is critical. I mean, every
one of them. They've got 12 of them on the schedule, and you're
expected to win all 12. However they shake them up, line them up,
it don't matter.

But I love the rivalry week. I've always loved that. This is my
favorite time of year. I mean, I just think it's a great
experience for your players to be a part of, same thing as
coaches, and your fans and all that kind of stuff.

You know, this is a game that impacts every house in this state,
and I think it's great that it's only the fifth time that both of
these teams have been ranked, and I think the first time that both
teams have come in with at least nine wins. This is a huge game.

And next week will take care of itself. This is a separate
championship, and I think this game in my opinion even further
prepares you for next week. If you're going to be a champion,
you've got to win regardless of when you play the games. But I've
always been a little more traditional, and I like letting it all
sort out all year long and then line up and play each other at the

Q. You just used the phrase "separate championship." Is that
something that you've specifically trademarked, for lack of a
better word, or specifically used with your team this week?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, I mean, it's our next goal. We've hit every
goal on our board to this point. We haven't missed one as far as
winning the opener and our next goal is to win our division and
our third goal is to win the state championship. We want to be
the best team in this state, and that's the next goal for us, and
that's our focus.

And then our next goal is to win the ACC Championship. We'll
have an opportunity to do that, and then we want to win our Bowl
game, and if we're doing those things consistently, then we're
going to have an outstanding program, and that's why they're set
that way.

Q. What is Sammy Watkins' status? DABO SWINNEY: We
expect him to play.

Q. Okay, so he's been able to practice?

DABO SWINNEY: Yep. We'll go out there again today, but he's
set, practiced last night, going to practice today, and we're -- I
don't know what the official term is, but he's probable. In my
mind he's definitely going to play, but I think the proper term is

Q. Can you just sort of sum up the impact that he's had on
your team this year and sort of -- I know you need about 30

DABO SWINNEY: You got enough time? Listen, he's rewritten the
books. You just pull out the media guide, and you just look up
every receiver statistic that there is and he's rewritten the
books as a true freshman. I think he only needs like -- I may be
wrong, 50 yards or 70 yards or something like that to set the
single season record, I think break Rod Gardner's record. I think
-- he's been pretty special. The guy has been on every award list
out there. He's had a huge impact on our team, and that's what
great players do

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