Clemson vs. FSU Pre-game Press Conference

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CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said during Tuesday’s media session that he didn’t have to worry about his team moving past the win over Auburn and concentrating on Florida St.

The Tigers and Seminoles play at 3:30 p.m. in Death Valley this Saturday, and Swinney said it will take another great effort in order to knock off the 11th-ranked Seminoles.

“We have yet to play our best game that for sure, but that’s what it will take to beat FSU,” Swinney said. “They are a top 10 team. They fell out a little bit this week after playing the No. 1 team in the country. They are a very good football team and our biggest challenge to this point. ‎You turn the film of FSU's defense on, and it doesn't take long for you come down from your high after a win.”

Swinney said the winner of this game has a decided edge in winning the Atlantic Division.

"Whoever wins this game is in the driver's seat [to win the Atlantic.],” he said. “The loser is still in the car but they aren’t driving."

Other highlights from the press conference

On the viral sensation his post-game interview with ABC has become

“I haven’t received much response other than just watching it all night Saturday night. You play that noon game, it’s not only a big game, but it was like a big commercial for Clemson all day and all night. That was great for our team and our fans. It sheds a positive light on it. I am an emotional guy, you know that. I like to win. I don’t even remember that whole deal. I was listening for the alma mater because we are supposed to gather at the paw and sing that. I never even heard the alma mater.”

On Clemson and FSU leading ACC in recruiting

"It’s all about recruiting. We are better coaches when we have great players. Plays seem to work better."

On special teams in the game

“If you look at their special teams, in a game like this, which could be the difference in the game and it was last year down there. It was pretty much a draw last year down there except special teams. We missed some kicks and they made theirs and we turned it over on the three yard line. Their returners are dangerous. Field position will be critical in this game.“

On Tajh Boyd

“Tajh (Boyd) is doing a great job; he’s playing well. He’s been outstanding. I couldn’t be more proud to see where he is
mentally and physically. He’s a quarterback. I’m most proud of his leadership because he’s making everyone around him
better. He loves to play. If he keeps playing like he’s been playing, we’re going to be a tough team.

“He has to do more decision making after the snap than before, and he’s doing a great job. He understands his protection and
has made some really good throws. We practice with the same tempo that we see in the game. Tajh (Boyd) has proven he can
run with the ball, he’s a good decision maker, he’s made some plays off of some scrambles; he’s a guy who they have to talk
about when they defend us. He’s definitely a duel weapon.”
On chemistry between Tajh Boyd and wide receivers

“There were four or five plays where we had guys on the same page in a way that I hadn’t seen in a game yet. We had some big
plays in that game that were a result in that kind of chemistry.

On Sammy Watkins

“If he stays like he is, he’ll be just fine. He’s just going to get better. He’s still learning, but he gets it. He understands defense.
He’s incredibly coachable. He has a burning desire to learn. He’s very humble. He works as hard as any guy on the field. He
takes notes in meetings and goes back and studies. He’s a focused guy. He has the whole package.

“I don’t know of a deficiency. I’d like to say he needs to get physically stronger, but his size isn’t a weakness. He can fly. He’s
got great hands. He’s got great work ethic. He can continue to improve without the ball, and that’s just being a young player.

“As far as the skill set of the position, he has everything you want in a receiver. Auburn’s defense tried some matchup stuff and
our guy was better. They played zone and we found soft spots in the zone. They missed some tackles when they had a chance to
tackle him. He’s a tough guy to handle.

“If you press him, we’ll take a shot. If you back up off of him, we’ll throw it short. He makes people miss. Part of the reason
Sammy (Watkins) is having such great success is because we have a lot of other guys who can make plays for us. A couple of
years ago, we were forcing some things because we had to with C.J. (Spiller) and Jacoby (Ford), but this year we do not have to
force anything. We have plenty of guys to spread the ball around to.”

On potentially winning Atlantic Division

“Auburn was the national champion until someone beat them. We had our shot and it worked out. It’s the same with Florida
State. They’re the Atlantic division champions until someone beats them. They have the belt. They’ll have it until someone
knocks them out.

“This is a big game. It’s not the whole season – if we win, we have to keep playing. Every game counts in conference play. The
conference isn’t decided until the end of the season. But, the winner of this game has their hands on the steering wheel. From a
big picture standpoint, this is a big game. We have to beat them no matter when we play them.”

On handling success

“This team has done a great job of focusing. Our older guys have done a great job of leading. The Auburn game is over. These
guys have bigger goals. The fun is in the winning, but they came in at 6:30 Monday morning and they were ready to go. We
made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball on Saturday. We haven’t come close to playing our best game. Florida State is a
very talented football team and it wasn’t hard for our guys to refocus.”

On freshmen

“D.J. (Howard) can be very good. He can fly. All these freshmen that we’ve signed – you’re going to have people saying “Who
is he?” by the end of the year. It’s just a matter of getting them an opportunity at some point.”

On Brandon Thomas

“He had a great week of practice last week. He prepared well and he was thrown into a situation where he played 89 snaps and
he played very well. He got better as the game went and you can just see his confidence growing. We have to create depth in
our line. David Smith was back out there last night, as was Mason Cloy, which was good to see.”

On play of defense

“Statistics don’t tell the whole tale. We’ve done some good things on defense. The part that’s killing us is the big plays.
Wofford had two pass completions the whole game, but for 127 yards. This week, Auburn had two runs for about 100 yards.
When you’re giving up chunk plays, your stats aren’t going to be good.

“If you take out the five or six big plays, our defense has played pretty good. Our guys up front are doing a great job. We
haven’t tackled great. We’re just messing up on some fundamental stuff that we have to grow out of. When all is said and done,
this is going to be a good defense.

“Bottom line – we’ve won. We’ve done well offensively, but we’re not happy with everything there either. The thing I like
about this team is that we’re playing as a team. Special teams has been solid. Everything is working together and that’s what it’s
all about.”

On Florida State offense

“They’re a pro style offense and we haven’t seen that yet. That’s the nature of college football – everyone has a different
offense. There are huge differences every week. We’re in our fourth game and we’ve yet to see a pro style attack; we’ve seen
everything else. We really haven’t played traditional base defense yet.

“We’ve had to install backwards. Usually you start with base defense and go from there, but we’ve had to do that in reverse. We
think we know what we’re doing but we haven’t played it yet. I would expect the freshmen guys to see more playing time in
base defense. Against Auburn, we didn’t play a lot of guys. We only had 9 defensive snaps in the fourth quarter.”

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