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Dabo says Maryland the "most important game of the year"


  by David Hood - Senior Writer - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 12:16 PM
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CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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told the media Tuesday that Clemson can’t afford to pay attention to point spreads or look ahead to games that have yet to be played – all the focus and attention has to be on the Maryland Terrapins.

The Terrapins come to Death Valley as prohibitive underdogs, and will start a freshman linebacker at quarterback against the Tigers, but Swinney said the Tigers will keep the same mindset they have had all season.

“The mentality is exactly the same. This is the biggest game of the year,” Swinney said. “That's been our mentality all year, nothing changes. The formula is exactly the same. It's technique and all-in commitment.”

Swinney said he has been impressed with what the Maryland coaches were able to do at the quarterback position on such short notice.

“Offensively, obviously they have suffered a lot of injuries. I was very impressed with what they did this past week in just a few days,” he said. “They had to take another guy, insert him in at quarterback from the linebacker position. They've now had two weeks to get No. 31 [Shawn Petty] ready to go. They run a lot of screens, read-option and then they'll take their shots. Their offensive line is very solid. Running backs are good. No. 4 [Wes Brown] has been very good. No. 1 [Stefon Diggs], at wide out, is second in the league in all-purpose yards. He's a guy that really can make things happen for him. No. 89 [Matt Furstenberg], their tight end has made plays on us every year.”

He then reminded the media that the Terps have played well on defense.

“Defensively, this is probably as good of unit as we've played. They lead the league in sacks,” Swinney said. “[Joe] Vellano - I can't believe he's still there. He's been there for like 10 years. No. 72 - plays with a high motor. He leads the league in tackles for loss. Very productive group up front. Linebackers - they are mostly a three down linemen unit but they'll bring a linebacker up a lot of times. They have big strong guys in the secondary. Special teams are a big part of this game like they were last year. Diggs is a very dangerous return guy that we have to contain.”

Clemson finished the regular portion of the schedule with a 4-1 road record and have the last three games at home. A win Saturday would be Clemson’s 12th in a row at home, a program record.

“The thing for us is that we have to continue to improve and learn to be consistent performers,” Swinney said. “We have a special opportunity this week to set the home winning record. That would be a great record to be a part of. Our guys are excited about that opportunity. I'm proud of that consistency that we've been able to be a part of at home and a big part of that has been our fans.

“The crowd has been awesome and it's been a factor. It's Homecoming, there are a lot of great things going on. Look forward to this week every year driving through campus and seeing the students work. Love the energy on campus. Hope I can visit the students building the floats. We'll participate with Tigerama Friday and then get ready for this big game Saturday.”


Highlights from the press conference

On preparing for Maryland’s offense

“We are going to have to be smart and really do a good job and how we apply our system. We'll probably see some different things. They do a lot of things if you aren't sound. They run a lot of zone-read, a lot of Utah, a lot of play-action. Their quarterback did a good job running the ball. He was feeling his way around from the passing game stand point. He probably made some throws he'd like to have back, but he only had three days to prepare. I was personally very impressed with him and the motions and snap counts. I think they will be better this week. We have to apply our defense to their formations. We aren't going to see something we've never seen before unless they completely change and I don't think they will do that.”

On Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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“He is on pace to return. We expect him to do a little bit more today. He felt pretty good this morning. But we aren't going to force him into action. If he's not ready, we'll go with the other guys. They are more than capable. I expect him to be ready, though.”

On opposing defenses playing man coverage against the Tigers

“I guess just trying to force the action a little bit. To be honest with you, our ability to run the football has helped us. That's what they do. People are who they are. Ultimately it comes down to winning matchups. We felt like going into the game last week there would be opportunities presented and if we could hit on them we would have big plays, and we did. Great job up front of protecting. Tajh threw the ball beautifully. We won the matchup.”

On the disparity between the top teams and bottom teams in ACC Atlantic

“I know Florida State has recruited well. I think we have recruited well. I'm just focused on Clemson and being the best program that we can be. Trying to compete for this conference consistently. Everybody else has to figure out their issues. The league has kind of beat each other up a little bit. There's been a lot of back and forth. Look at what happened last week at N.C. State - Virginia went into Raleigh and put up 33 points. You have to come ready to play or you will get beat. That's why I'm proud of our guys because they have learned how to win. It's a mindset. I'm just focused on Clemson.”

On FSU playing at Virginia Tech this Thursday

“We don't control that. We really have not got very emotional about things we don't control. When you get emotional about stuff that's when you have issues. External issues are distractions. Our daily preparation. Our commitment. Our execution. Our performance. Attention to details. That's what our guys are focused on. If Florida State beats Virginia Tech Thursday night, nothing changes for Clemson. If Virignia Tech wins, we still have a ball game to win. Nothing changes. That shouldn't impact our performance one bit. We don't pay much attention to it. Obviously everybody will be watching but in regards to this game, it has nothing to do with it.”

On Spencer ShueySpencer Shuey
RS Jr. Linebacker
#33 6-3, 230
Charlotte, NC

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“He is playing great. Really is. Fast. Physical. Knows exactly what we are doing and has done a great job of lining everybody up. He's performing at a high level. Really, really pleased with his performance.”

On moving Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
So. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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to OLB

“We will look at things when we get to the spring. We are losing Tig [Willard] and Corico [Hawkins] and they've both played a ton of football. There are no lifetime contracts around here. You have to perform. Period. The end. Shuey has played great. Doesn't mean he'll be the guy in the spring. Other guys will have something to say about that. Sping is just getting the best 11, 22. A lot of times you cross-train guys. We do that on offense and defense.”


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