Quotable: Clemson, OU coaches and players talk Clemson win


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Dabo Swinney - ESPN Interview

Q. Dabo, what does 14-0 sound like to you?

DABO SWINNEY: It sounds like it's been seven years, and it's been a fun journey. God is good. All the glory to God. That's all I can say. It's been unbelievable. Been a long time. Never been with a 14-0 team, so it sounds good. But our team has shown heart, had guts all year long, and it's amazing to me that, you know, I told them, you ain't favored to win the damn game, but we ain't no underdog. Everybody out there, nobody believes in this team except these guys, and they just got a great heart, and it showed tonight. I thought we physically won in the trenches. That's what this game is all about is just beating the guy in front of you, and we got off to a good start. We just weren't scoring in the red zone. We got that fixed in the second half. Defense rose up in the second half, man, was some huge plays, B.J., Ben Boulware. All I know is we're going to the Natis. That's all I know. We're going to play somebody in Arizona. God is good, and to God be the glory, that's all I've got to say.

Q. You went into the locker room down at the half, but you came right back out and scored. What did you say in the locker room at halftime that got your team right?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, we've just got to clean a few things up. We had like five drives in a row into the red zone, and we weren't getting touchdowns. We just needed to clean a few things up. I was really disappointed that we didn't make a couple of the competitive plays, so we made those competitive plays, just a tremendous second half. But the thing for us is any time we take it -- we're 51-0 when we take a lead into the fourth quarter, so I said let's go win the third quarter because we know what happens in the fourth quarter, and that's exactly the way it went.

Deshaun Watson, Quarterback

Q. You're headed to a National Championship. What are your thoughts?

DESHAUN WATSON: It's a blessing. It's amazing. It's been amazing what we did this season. It's what we've been waiting for 30 years, and now we have the opportunity, and I'm just thankful. I thankful for all the guys, all the coaches, all the fans, the support staff, and we're going to Arizona.

Q. You guys trailed at the half. What was the turning point?

DESHAUN WATSON: Just really got to finish drives. We had six or seven drives where we went down but some of them we got to kick field goals, and we knew that we had to punch them in. We just kept rising with big plays. Defense stepped up and we stepped up and hey, we dominated.

Tony Elliott, Offensive Coordinator

Question – Do you think the quarterback run game setup (Wayne) Gallman to breakout in the second half?

“You know I think was just more tempo and just being able to wear them down and still have more juice in that second half. We tried to come back to the quarterback run in the second half, but they made some good adjustments to stop it. But, I think it was just the tempo and the amount of plays we had in the first half that got them a little tired and created some more running lanes for Gallman.”

Question- Is “kill the clock” a strategy that Clemson suggests when game planning?

“Not really. If you look at that North Carolina game, we got in that situation and then we were in a dog fight at the end. Really the mentality is there is nothing more important than scoring before halftime, but if we can take a lead into the fourth quarter, we feel like we’ll be able to finish the game.”

Question- Are you surprised about what you guys did in the trenches against Oklahoma?

“Going back and watching (last year’s) game we grew a lot from our run game standpoint. I felt like this year we gave them a better chance and we had multiple schemes that gave us a chance against their schemes.”

Kevin Dodd, Defensive Lineman

Question- What has helped you guys come through on the huge fourth-down plays throughout the year?

“We just got the mentality that we have to make plays that count. When our number is called, we just go out and play like we know we can.”

Question- Did you see Baker Mayfield lose his composure in the second half?

“We knew he hadn’t been hit as much and we knew our front seven was going to get after him and challenge him a little bit. As much as we hit him, when you hit them enough, they become inaccurate and get antsy and want to leave and escape the pocket. If he can make a good throw on the run, hats off to him, but we didn’t want him sitting in the pocket delivering throws.”

Charone Peake, Wide Receiver

Question- What’s the journey been for you personally after battling so much?

“It’s been up and down. My junior year, being hurt a lot and just seeing the seniors join in with the young guys has been really fun.”

Question- Does the success of the program mean more to you given that Clemson is your hometown team?

“Most people don’t know about my hometown in South Carolina. So yeah, it means a lot. We’re going to represent at the National Championship.”

Question- How did you feel about the matchup with Oklahoma?

“They were talking a little trash, but we came to work every day and kept our mouth shut. We knew we were going to come out and perform and dominate.”

Oklahoma

BOB STOOPS: Start off by compliments and congratulations to Clemson, Coach Swinney, his staff, team, they really are an excellent football team. They played an excellent football game today and show why they're undefeated and the No. 1 team in the country. You just have to give it to them. Us, you know, we go in at half 17-16, we feel like we still haven't played as well as maybe we're capable of, but then in the second half a lot of the same things keep happening, defensively missed tackles, but give them credit, making us miss them. So you've got to compliment their players. The penalties were really poor in that area, as well. You know, Deshaun Watson was excellent, and offensively way too inconsistent, not able to run the ball consistently enough was a major factor. I said coming into the game whoever could run the football the most effectively would -- in my mind would have the best opportunity to win, and they were able to do that, and we weren't. You know, and that's the bottom line. And then we have some turnovers that go with it, so all of it together combined, we were outplayed badly in the second half, and that's where it is.

Q. Could you tell in the second quarter, Clemson seemed to get a lot of momentum, especially offensively second quarter. Could you tell some things going on in the second quarter that was going to give you trouble in the second half?

BOB STOOPS: Well, I just felt we weren't tackling very well, and that was the biggest factor. And then some of the quarterback run play that hurt us, we were out of position and felt like we cleaned that up at halftime, but then Gallman hurts us in the second half with missed tackles, or again, him making us miss him and creating some big plays. So anyway, we knew it was going to be challenging even before the second quarter. We knew it was going to be a long day, and we'd have to defend the run better than we did.

Q. You did a great job of closing out the first half with some big plays, but did you feel like when you went into the locker room, just curious that maybe you left some points out on the field that you should have had?

BOB STOOPS: Well, for sure. Three, when we have the unsportsmanlike conduct that ruins the drive and forces us to punt. We're going to have the ball with the wind with an easy field goal, and now we have to punt the ball. We talked a lot about it, too, going into the game, that we had to play smart and we didn't. Penalties hurt us all over the field. I can't even think -- I haven't seen the sheet how many, way too many and a lot of them critical ones.

Q. Clemson is obviously an extremely physical team. You guys lost four players today to various injuries, a couple of them were contact, hard-hitting injuries. Were they maybe more physical than guys were ready for, or do you think that physicality impacted that part of the game?

BOB STOOPS: Well, I think like Baker making the tackle and knocking himself out I wouldn't say had anything to do with what they were doing. That had something to do with the interception he threw. Joe was going to make a block. So I wouldn't say anything about injuries. I would say their ability to run the football and our inability to run the football, that they were -- they played in a more physical way than we did. That to me is -- outside of the injuries, I don't think they have anything to do with it.

Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator

Question- Did the play of Clemson’s defensive front make the difference in this game?

“They were good. We knew that they would get us some, and we would get them some. I thought we were pretty good in the first half up front. They got the better of us in the second half. Not having Joe (Mixon) and Samaje (Perine) for most of the second half, that makes a difference; we lean on those guys pretty heavily.

Question- Did Clemson change anything after your opening scoring drive?

“No, not much. We had some things there where we were one block away. The biggest thing that changed the game was Joe (Mixon) and Samaje (Perine) in there.”

Question- How much can this offense grow, going into next season?

“A ton; tonight is a great example. We played well for a majority of this year and have a lot of things that we’re awfully proud of. Though a night like tonight shows us that we still have a long way to go, we have a pretty strong nucleus of guys that will be better. We need to recruit better and get better pieces based on the guys seeing the product that we put on the field this year. We expect to be better next year.

Sterling Shepard, Senior, WR

Question- What did it mean to play for this team?

“We have been through a lot together. This is a tight knit group. It’s the tightest group I have ever been a part of. I’m so thankful to have all these guys on my team and guys that have worked hard for us.”

Question- What is the legacy the graduating group will leave at Oklahoma?

“A pretty good one; it was a great run. The seniors have done a great job getting everybody focused and teaching these younger guys how to lead a team. That will always stick with them. When I was a youngster, I used to always look up to everybody and everything that they taught me stuck with me. Hopefully, they will remember some of the things that we taught them and this thing will keep on going uphill from here.”

Question- What are your thoughts on the game tonight?

“You can’t say anything about preparation, everybody prepared for this game. The coaches did a great job. We just let some things get away from us.”

Charles Tapper, Senior, DE

Question- What is going through your mind right now?

“A lot of hurt. I wish I could go back and make those tackles and make those plays to change the outcome of this game. I wish I could just stay in this moment. Like I’ve been saying, I really don’t want to leave my brothers, and it really hurts that I have to leave them like this and they’re leaving me like this. It just hurts really bad.”

Question- How frustrating were the missed tackles?

“It’s very frustrating because we know we can make those tackles, we have been making those tackles all year. I missed a lot of tackles and I know I shouldn’t have missed a lot of tackles. It was the things we knew we had to do as players. We just didn’t have the big plays that we have been making all season.”

Question- How close was this year’s team?

“This is the closest thing that I have ever been to; all these guys are my true brothers. If anything ever went down with any of these guys, I’m right there with them. I mean if their parents die, if they’re getting married, if they’re having babies, I’m going to be there for them. Next year, I am going to try to be at every game I can be at. Hopefully I’m going to make it to the NFL, but if not I will be at every game for sure. I love these guys and I want to see all these guys succeed in life. I just wish all these guys the best.I love these boys with my whole heart.”

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