Clemson vs. Virginia Tech: Pre-game Press Conference

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CLEMSON – Highlights from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s Tuesday teleconference.

On Virginia Tech

“We are getting ready for another really good football team. We've got another big challenge on our hands. Back to back, Top 10 type teams. Virginia Tech is the ACC Champion and in my opinion the best team in our league. They've won 12 ACC games in a row. They've won 15 regular season games in a row. Obviously they are very well-coached. Ton of respect for [Va. Tech head coach] Frank Beamer. Class guy. Very genuine. Class program. They play really hard. In all phases. It's going to be a tough challenge. They are the only team in the country that's won 10 games or more for seven straight seasons. Very tough to beat at home. For us we have to play well. We have to play as well as we can. We've not yet played a complete game. We've found a way to win but we have to put it together. Stay focused and stay committed and see if we can play that complete game. That's probably what it's going to take. “

On VT Offense

“They want to run the football. They run it 44 times a game. Up front they are big and have a bunch of veterans. NFL type guys. They've played a lot of winning football. Their two running backs - No. 4 [David Wilson] and No. 2 [Josh Oglesby]- they've scored 10 of their 11 rushing touchdowns and they can both play. They are a handful when it comes to stopping the run. Their receivers are all good. They have a good group. They have four guys who are very productive. They spread it around. They all have touches and are all very productive. I imagine they will get No. 81 [Jarrett Boykin] back full speed. He's been dealing with a hamstring but we expect to see him. Defensively, we have to stop the run. If they establish the run it's going to be a long night for us.”

On VT Defense

“Their defense, it's going to be a real challenge offensively. Two weeks in a row we've played two top 10 defenses. They've given up 10 points a game. They are in the top five in all statistics. They are No. 1 in our conference. We've got a tough task. They lead the league in sacks with 14. They are a little unique in that they play an eight-man front plus robber coverage. Little bit different from a game plan standpoint. But it all goes back to their personnel. Their D-line is built to stop the run. It's a 4-2-5 type of scheme but those two linebackers are two South Carolinians. No. 20 [Jayron Hosley]- a lot of people think he may be the best corner in the league. And then special teams - everybody knows they are really good special teams-wise. They lead the league in punt returns. We have to step up to that challenge like last week. We have to step up on defense and eliminate big plays. Offensively we have to handle the environment.”

On Injuries

“From an injury standpoint, Mansa Joseph is out. Dawson Zimmerman and D.J. Howard and Nuk [Hopkins] are probable. They will probably be limited maybe a little bit tomorrow but most likely all three of those guys will have a chance to play for us Saturday night. Looking forward to it. Excited about it. Anxious to take this bunch on the road and see where we are. We've been a good home team. Now we have to win on the road and we start at the top. It's not getting any easier but it's a lot of fun. Like the demeanor of our team and where they are mentally. They are excited about playing in that venue and hopefully we'll play well. “

On game being a physical test

“Well, Florida State is pretty good up front. You can flip a coin. Both of these defenses are very talented. These guys are built a little differently with body types as opposed to Florida State. Not quite as tall but a little wider. A little thicker. Built to stop the run with that eight man front they like to play. It will be a physical game. That will be a big part of it.”

On Bud Foster’s defense

“They've done a good job. It looks to be like they are getting back to how they've always been. And they are still pretty young – up front. But they do what they do. I don't see any change at all. I've only seen them twice since I've been in this league. Just more of a difference in the personnel. “

On team maybe letting down after two big weeks

“I think they are ready. They've been an easy group to focus every week. I think our schedule has helped us. We haven't had a chance to think about the last game because we've been so consumed with the next one. That's good. Now that you are going on the road that's a little different too. These guys have a ton of respect for our conference opponents. Our non-conference games are over with. I hope they handle 4-0 like they handle 1-0, 2-0, and 3-0.”

On freshmen and first road trip

“The only thing we'll do different is have a bunch of crowd noise at practice. The crowd will be pretty quiet on defense. We’ll challenge our offense this week with communication with calls and snap counts. When we are at home we don't have that type of issue. If you are a good player it doesn't matter where you play. Going on the road if you have the right mentality you can be energized by an opposing crowd. Just tell them, be ready mentally for the crowd to yell at you. They'll talk about your uniform, your mama, whatever. “

On Lane Stadium

“Well, I've been up there once. They've been really good. They are the only team in America that has seven 10-win seasons in a row. They've been really good. Coach Beamer and his staff are outstanding. They have a culture in place and they have recruited to it. It's a hard place to go win. We have a hard place to win. It all comes back to what kind of players they have. They've been consistent.”

On VT coverage

“They will play the robber coverage and take their corners and cover half field. It's a different scheme and you just don't see it a lot. But that's not all they do. They'll line up and it looks like they are in robber coverage but it's actually cover one. They do a good job disguising things, trying to make things look the same. Then they bring pressure. Good scheme. Plus they play with leverage. “

On lack of success on short-yardage downs

“Really, sometimes it's a bad call. I haven't had any problem with any call that we've made. We've had one or two or three guys just not do it. We needed one yard on the goal line the other day and we got three. We needed one yard for Andre Ellington and he hardly got touched until after he got into the end zone. Phillip Price crushed two or three guys. But we've had some disappointing plays there too. You have to execute. You have to have 11 guys doing their job on the play. And you have to give the opponent credit too. They have good players. Sometimes they win. Sometimes their guy whips your guy. We forget that Florida State is pretty good. “

On making a change at kicker

“Four out of six. Pretty solid. Disappointed he missed the one the other day. We are 4 for 6. Wish we were six-for-six.”

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