Clemson vs. South Carolina pre-game press conference


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Dabo Swinney press conference audio


Opening statement:

"I'm excited about this week. This, to me, is what college football is all about. I love to compete and games like this are why I got into coaching. South Carolina is a really good football team. They've had a great year, and won the SEC East for the first time. They're really playing well as a team. It's going to be a tough challenge for us. I told you Florida State was the best offense we've played, but I'll say the same thing about this team. These guys present a lot of challenges.



"They have a bunch of formations with the personnel they put on the field. They've been able to be much more balanced this year as far as running the ball. (QB Stephen) Garcia is top-10 in the nation in pass efficiency and they present a big challenge.



"They've got some guys that are pretty special players. Marcus Lattimore is an outstanding player and has been the difference for them. Garcia has played well and Alshon Jeffery has had another great year for them. They have some really good complimentary players that you can't forget about.



"Our defensive front four has to be dominant. They've done that as of late, and they have to continue to do so. South Carolina loves the deep ball so we have to do a good job there defending the chunk plays.



"They bring a lot of different even/odd fronts on defense. They're defensive line is very disruptive. Their two tackles together are the best we've played. They don't change personnel a lot, but they do a lot of stemming.




"Last year, we didn't take care of the football. Momentum is critical in a game like this. We had three turnovers that cost us. We have to take care of the ball, no doubt about it. We have to score some touchdowns when we have those opportunities.
"The offensive line has to keep playing well. It's going to be something to watch. Offensively, our good guys have to play well; if they do, we can execute and move the ball.



"On special teams, all our guys have to take great pride in doing their job and we have a spark somewhere.



"Injury wise, Terrence Ashe getting hurt like he did (broken leg) is difficult to deal with since it's so close to the end of his senior season. Miguel (Chavis) will hopefully do a little more today. We were a little more encouraged with (Andre) Ellington last night and today he'll do a little more practicing and it looks like he's going to be a game time decision..



On headline players:

"It's all about recruiting. They've got a couple guys that are playing well for them. They're a good football team. It isn't easy to win your division. They got it done. For them to go 5-3 in their conference and win their division, my hat's off to them. They've earned it. They're a good football team but I think they're a good football team too.



On rivalries:

"It's everybody's back yard. Most of these players know each other, they have to live with each other all year, and there's a lot of recruiting battles that cross over. It's the game that everybody in the state cares about. Win or lose, when you go to the grocery store, church, elementary school, or a restaurant, you hear about it and it's all year long.



"They're not sitting around talking about the Wake Forest or NC State game; it's about the South Carolina game and vice versa. That's just the way it is. There's no pro sports in this state, that's just how it is. It sure makes for a better off-season when you win it.



"Fortunately I've won more here than I've lost (since coming as an assistant in 2003, 5-2). Last year was a disappointing loss. We lost one here on a field goal (2006) which was disappointing. These guys have a lot of respect for each other.



On South Carolina's defense:

"They're really, really good against the run. Teams have had to throw more against them and they've given up some yard. They're seventh in the country against the run. They're third in the nation in sacks. We just played the team that is first in the nation in sacks at Florida State. We've had to run on some good defenses. They're scoring defense is in the top 35 in the country, but they're scoring 33 a game. It's going to be tough.



On Coach Spurrier:

"He and I have crossed paths a lot since 1988. I'll never forget 1994; we (Alabama) lost by one point to Florida in the championship game and lost again in 1996. In 1999, we actually beat them twice so that's a good memory.



"I've always had a lot of respect for him as a coach. Coach Spurrier has been good to me. We've spent a lot of time together. He's a much more serious golfer than me, I'll tell you that. I congratulated him when they won the division. I've got a lot of respect for him and those coaches he has on the staff.



On South Carolina's offense:

"They're doing a lot of the same things [Coach Spurrier]'s been doing since 1988. I'd say the biggest thing right now is that he's running the ball more. They used to never run the quarterback and now they're doing that. He keeps it simple. He finds the matchups and understands coverages. He does what he does over and over.



"It's really all about recruiting. I know we were a lot better coaches last year with the pieces we had and we'll be better coaches in the future with other guys that are coming in.



On Marcus Lattimore:

"He's a good kid, first of all. Football is important to him and he works hard at it. He's a winner. He comes from a winning program. Football wise, he's got great vision. They pretty much run the zone because that's what he knows. I'm not surprised at all at the success he's had. He's got a couple pieces on the outside that take a lot of pressure off him. He's got a little bit of James Davis in him as far as vision. "



On Jamie Harper:

"It's good to have some depth. He's a different kind of player (from Andre Ellington), but what can you say about Jamie Harper. He played a great game against NC State, but what he did in Tallahassee and at Wake Forest, he was the best guy out there. He's really thrived in this new role. I'm sure Coach (Ellis) Johnson isn't excited about having to tackle #8. He's a good football player and we're lucky to have a guy that can step in. He's not quite as explosive as Andre, but he's an NFL-type of back."




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