Clemson vs. USC: Dabo Swinney weekly press conference highlights

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CLEMSON – It’s Rivalry Week in South Carolina, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney called this week’s contest against 9-2 South Carolina a big game.

“This is an exciting week in college football,” Swinney said. “It's an exciting week in our state, every single day - for every home in the state. It's a ton of fun to be a part of this rivalry. It's a huge game. This is one of those rare moments in the series where both teams are ranked. Big ball game. Really looking forward to being a part of it. South Carolina has had another good year- good season once again. They've done it in a little bit different fashion. They've one a great job in finding ways to win without No. 5 (Stephen Garcia) or No. 21 (Marcus Lattimore) and they are finding ways to win- that's a credit to their team and their coaches.”

Swinney said the Gamecocks have adjusted to the mid-season change at quarterback.

“Their quarterback is getting better,” Swinney said. “He's gaining confidence each week with what they ask him to do. Same thing with No. 22 [Brandon Wilds]. They have weapons on the outside and you better know where they are. No. 1 [Alshon Jeffery] is a great player. They have weapons. It will be a challenge for our defense to make sure we are sound and don't give up big plays.”

The Gamecocks also have plenty of weapons on offense.

“Defensively, you might as well line up all of those guys in the NFL,” he said. “They are No. 5 in the country. Similar to Florida State and North Carolina - they are tall and lanky guys coming off the edges. Really good defensive line. Linebackers play well. The secondary guys have been there forever. They are very aggressive and force the issues and you have to come ready to play. Big challenge for us. No doubt about it. Special teams has been critical in this game the last couple of years. They have really talented return guys. We haven't done a good job with our punt coverage the last couple of weeks.”

He said the two teams are very familiar with each other.

“The bottom line in a game like this we know a lot about them and they know a lot about us,” he said. “We have to take care of the football and give yourself a chance to be successful. Players got to play. That's the bottom line in championship-type games. Guys have to show up and be ready and do their job. Take care of the football and give yourself to win the ball game. I don't know if we've given ourselves much of a chance in this game the last two years with the turnovers we've had. Can't wait to get down there. It will be an electric atmosphere and will be a great game to be a part of.”

On losing momentum

”You all want some grand answer. Eleven turnovers in three games. None
of the rest of it matters. We are lucky we didn't lose three games. We
have a lot of guys playing some great football. Really good football. You
turn on the film and watch Malliciah Goodman and Andre Branch and Brandon
Thompson and Coty Sensabaugh. We aren't giving ourselves a chance. We have
to lead the nation in turnovers the last three weeks. Turnovers, critical
penalties, six sacks given up - we aren't playing our best. The effort is
good. That's unquestioned. We grade that very tough. Our execution has not
been as good. We executed at a high level ... but the last couple of games
we have not. We've guys operate outside of the system. It's the little
things. We are not a 5-6 football team. We are 9-2. You turn the film on
and you see the mistakes you made and you know why you got beat. The two
losses we've had - we had four turnovers in each one. And both were on the
road and that's a recipe for disaster.

“We expected to be 11-0 right now. And we are not. We have to get better.
But after 11 games headed into week 12 we have all of our goals written
over there still in front of us. Last year that wasn't the case. That's
what we have to focus on. Let's be who we are. We've got volumes of tape
of us doing the right things. That's what we have to get back to doing.”

On the turnovers and how to prevent them

” Just be who you are. Do what you are coached to do and play
within the system. Do your job. Everybody has to do their job to protect
the football. We were as good as anybody in the country the first part of
the season. The last three outings we haven't been very good and that's
why we have struggled. We've practiced well. Meetings have been good.
These guys are focused. Just on game day we've made critical mistakes.
We've had some young guys make mistakes but you have to line up and
compete. We've had times when we have to overcome it. We haven't done that
as well these last three games. “

Short yardage concerns

”Big. Again, it's little thing. There's nothing major. It's very
simple things we just aren't doing. You scratch your head because it's
base. As base as you can be. Few guys that haven't done their job and we
aren't asking them to do anything. It's simple. That's frustrating as a
play caller. Chad's got a call sheet and we've worked all week and it's
exactly how we've practiced. Nine guys blocked in perfect and one guy
doesn't do his job. That's where the accountability and that focus needs
to be had by every single player.”

On developing a good offensive line

”It takes longer to develop offensive lineman than any other position
and do you need to redshirt those players to get the most out of them?
Swinney: I don't think there's any question, the offensive line is the
most technical, physically challenging position on the offensive side of
the ball. No question. We've had some grab bag - moving guys around and
stuff like that. But we've played 11 ball games. We are seeing what we are
preparing for. No excuses. Need to play better. Robbie Caldwell is an
outstanding offensive line coach and does a great job. We had bad missed
assignments the other night that caused problems for us - but it wasn't
anything we weren't prepared for.”

On injuries

”We are improving. Encouraged by what I saw from Phillip Price.
Hopeful he's going to play. He thinks he's going to play. Didn't have high
expectations going into yesterday but he looked pretty good. We are going
to challenge him today. If he does well today we'll go live with him
tomorrow. Everybody else should be back. We've got a whole page full of
guys with this and that but that's just football at this level.”

On South Carolina and zone read

”They run the zone read from 100 different formations and make you do your job. And their quarterback is a real weapon. That is who they are. We have to be prepared for that and very disciplined in how we defend it. At thje end of day have to tackle the back and defend the quarterback against these guys. The have been very efficient in how they run the offense as of late.”

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