Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript

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COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you all today. You know, we are just excited to finally have a game week around here, and ready to get started. Anxious to see our team play, and we have had a good camp, pretty healthy.

This North Texas team coming in here, they have had a couple changes from a coaching standpoint, new offensive coordinator in particular coming in, and so there's always some unknowns in your first game, and especially when it's somebody that you don't play a lot from your region, or other teams that you've seen.

They have done very well offensively, under Coach Dodge, and defensively they have gotten a lot better. They have a lot of veterans coming back on both sides of the ball. Defensively they have ten guys coming back who started three times, and so I think this is a good opener for us, and again, just anxious to see us play and see how we respond on a true game environment, and we'll see what kind of team we can have.
So with that, I'll take whatever questions you have.

Q. Kyle Parker made the decision to return and play football this year for Clemson, what have you seen from him how focused has he been on football? I know he did sign with the Rockies, but not a baseball-only contract. How is he doing football-wise and what do you expect from him this year?

COACH SWINNEY: He's had an outstanding camp, he really has and he's just a lot further along than he was this time last year mentally. This time last year, he was trying to figure it all out, had not played and I think that he really understands now how to prepare for a ballgame physically and mentally.
He's had a really good camp. He's been very, very sharp. So I expect him to play well Saturday.

Q. With your backfield situation now, I know you've talked about you don't replace a C.J. per se, but do you like the people that you have at that position?

COACH SWINNEY: I do. Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington are kind of our one-, two-punch, and you'll see a lot of them all year long. Hopefully they will stay healthy. I really believe that they will be a very, very productive duo. And hopefully they can combine for the production of a guy like C.J. but they are their own players, and both of them bring different styles. We have got power and speed blended in there, and both of them catch the ball well.

So the biggest thing is, both of them got a lot of meaningful game experience last year because of how we used C.J. Both of those guys had to step up and play big roles for us at critical times, and I think that both of them are primed for good years, and we certainly would not want to trade them for anybody. Love how they practice and their work ethic, just their daily approach to getting better, and anxious to see them play.

Q. You mentioned that North Texas has a new offensive coordinator, new quarterback this year. Do you have any familiarity with Canales from the time he was at some of his other stops? Is there an air of mystery about what you'll see from them in this game?

COACH SWINNEY: I do know Coach Canales. He was at NC State, as well. Familiar with him, and I've got a chance to see South Florida play from time to time.

But it is a situation -- you never have this much time to prepare for any game, all year long. But the opener, you've got all spring, all summer to prepare for one game, so certainly there's a lot of unknowns, and you know, you have to expect the unexpected, you have to prepare for so much more because you have to prepare for what they have done under Coach Dodge, but now you also have to prepare for what Canales has done at South Florida, and his background.

So it's just a lot of different film and it can create a little bit of a headache from a game-planning standpoint. When it's all said and done, it's going to come down to Clemson, and us really, truly understanding our system well enough that we can make adjustments and apply it appropriately on game day, to whatever they decide to do.

So it will be interesting the first part of the game, trying to get dialed in on what is their identity going to be, and which direction are they going to go; because there are some contrasting styles based often what North Texas has done and based on what Coach Canales has done in the past, as well.

Q. This is a team coming in that doesn't quite get the exposure of an ACC program; do you anticipate seeing the team come in on a real emotional high and how do you deal with that?

COACH SWINNEY: I think in college football, everybody's going to be on an emotional high. This is the first game. This is the opener. Everybody is undefeated.

So regardless of who you play or what conference they come from, everybody has worked their tails off all summer and all spring to get off to a good start with their new season. And so we will see a tough North Texas team. This is a team that, you know, has tradition at that school. I mean, in '01 and '04, they won four straight Sun Belt titles, and I think was 25-1 in their conference play. It's not like they don't have resources around there. And you look at them last year, the first thing that jumps out at you is they had nine losses, so they didn't have a very good year.

But six of their losses were by a grand total of 24 points, so four points a game is what they are averaging; they were right there, and I think four of them, they had the lead in the fourth quarter.
So this is a team that has a lot of guys coming back that's played, that had a difficult season last year, but they were right there in so many games. So I expect it to be a tough ballgame, and we are going to be as excited to play as anybody.

Our first goal is to win our opener and we have got that opportunity, hopefully Saturday, to get off to a good start.

Q. Just wondering, when did the problem with Brandon Maye's knee, did it start to really crop up yesterday and how does that affect the linebacker depth for Saturday?

COACH SWINNEY: He's practiced. He practiced Monday, and we were in vests on Monday. But his knee swelled up on him, and it was one of those situations he probably could have gone ahead and played.

He definitely could have gone ahead and played, but it would have been something that we would have been constantly always worried about, he has a little loose body in there, you will all of the sudden, three or four games, you get hit the wrong way and that thing gets lodged in there in the wrong spot and causing problems and now you have to do it later on in the season.

We said, you know what, let's just go ahead and do it right now with the hopes that we can get back to get some time next week against PC. We think it's a pretty minor procedure, but we have still got to go through the process and hopefully it will go the way we want.

But really, we didn't really have any decision made until yesterday afternoon, and once we kind of sat and got all of the information together. But you know, we'll have to move a couple of guys around. Of course, Tig Willard will start, and he's a co-starter there anyway, so he was going to play a lot. Probably will move Daniel Andrews over there to provide some more depth at that position as well, and probably we will have to play a lot of nickel-type of defense against these guys this week, anyway. So I think we'll be okay.

Q. What's been the best thing you've seen in practice this week, either a specific thing with a player or just in general?

COACH SWINNEY: Just the spirit and energy of the guys. They are excited to play. They look like their legs are back underneath them. They have had a good spring. I expect that to continue today. Tuesday is always a long, tough practice. But you know, kind of get into that working man/Wednesday today, hump day, they can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their overall enthusiasm has been really encouraging.

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