Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript
COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you guys. As you said, we're traveling up to North Carolina this week, getting ready to play our third really good football team in a row. Really, us and North Carolina are mirror images of each other. I think you got two football teams, both with a 2-2 record, both with two close losses in games that probably both teams could have won.
Big game. We're hoping to get back on track. We’re just really focused on playing a complete game because we've yet to do that. We look forward to heading that way on Friday.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Could you talk about the role Miguel Chavis is playing on your defensive front this year and how well you feel like he's doing in that role?
COACH SWINNEY: Sometimes he's a starter for us. We have three guys that we consider starters. Miguel has just really come on. He's leading our defensive tackles right now with tackles. He's a real leader for us. He's going to be a captain this week. He brings energy and an effort on every single snap that he plays. We're pleased with his performance so far.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask, when you look at North Carolina on film, you've seen them before, they're missing a few guys that were considered huge impact guys. How has that changed what they do on defense? Do they look as formidable as they did?
COACH SWINNEY: Yeah, they do (laughter). We're not buying that line down here in Clemson. They've lost a couple good players, but they're replacing them with good players. They've recruited extremely well. Their linebackers are NFL guys, a couple first-rounders there in that linebacker core. All of them are going to be drafted. Two safeties are no doubt NFL guys. No. 90 is as good a football player as we've seen all year. I mean, he's a first-round draft pick if I've ever seen one in the defensive line. No. 95 is a young guy, a guy we recruited, thought highly of him. Same thing with ZNo. 98, another guy we recruited. All those guys are NFL-type players.
Again, they lost a couple of very experienced guys and replaced them with talent. But now these guys have played four games, gotten better, and played against competition.
You're not in the game with LSU and Georgia Tech if you don't have good players. These guys had a chance to win both of those games. I know they're getting another safety back this week. We feel like they're as good as anybody we've played.
Offensively, No. 34 I think is as good a back as we've played all year. I don't think there's anybody out there that is more impressive than this guy. He runs extremely hard, finishes plays. 20 is a good back, too. They're skilled. Numbers 83 and 88, 87, those guys could play for anybody in the country. They’ve got a veteran offensive line. The quarterback is playing outstanding. He's got one pick, thrown for over a thousand yards, and is making good decisions.
This is a very talented football team. Again, everybody wants to talk about a couple guys they don't have. We're more interested in what they do have, and they've got more than most.
Q. You're coming off two close losses to good teams. What do you need to do better to get over the hump this week?
COACH SWINNEY: We have got to stop beating ourselves, that's the bottom line. If somebody lines up and beats you, they beat you. Let's control things that are in our control. We've given up some absolute uncontested touchdowns because of some critical busts. Then offensively, we played three pretty good football games. And played very well. All of a sudden we get in the Miami game and we have six turnovers. Heck, you can't win that way. We went from 5th in the nation in turnover margin, excuse me, 7th, to 51st in one game, and still had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.
That's the biggest thing for us right there, is just controlling the things that we control.
Q. Coach, you're sort of an expert on the long play. I think there were seven plays with 70 yards or more throughout the league last week, 22 overall this year, which is the most of any conference. Why is it? Is it the time of the year, playing some FCS opponents? Why have there been so many?
COACH SWINNEY: I don't know. I can only speak for Clemson. I know why we've given up so many. It's because we've had some busts, absolutely turned people loose and have had some uncontested plays. That's the only thing I can respond to. I'm not really sure about everybody else.
Q. How much of Kyle's performance last Saturday against Miami had anything to do with the pounding that he took at Auburn? What is his physical status coming up this weekend?
COACH SWINNEY: He's fine. He played a bad half of football. That's really it. He played three good games, and he played lights out second half for us. He came back the second half and played outstanding. Nobody wants to talk about that. Everybody wants to talk about his first half.
He played poor, no question. He just didn't play good. In the second half he responded. He threw some great balls that we didn't catch, but still put us in position to win in the fourth quarter.
That's what I'm really proud of. That's who he is. I mean, he's played three games and a half of very good football. He's fine. He's ready to go. There's no conspiracy. He doesn't have some kind of disease or something like that. I mean, he's just a guy that was a little banged up in the ballgame.
We wouldn't play him if he wasn't a hundred percent ready to go, totally fine. He just had a bad half. Sometimes in baseball it goes 0-4. He comes back next time and gets hit.
Q. On Marcus Gilchrist, how do you explain he's never missed a game, and he's been a good player who just got his first interception of his career? D people just not throw his way?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, that's a big part of it. He's always doing his job. He's a guy that not many people are going to pick on. Then also he's played so many different roles for us. He's played corner, both safeties, nickel and dime packages. He's everywhere. He is our guy. He is the most complete football player on this roster as far as just the total package, Marcus Gilchrist.
He's a guy that, again, just not many opportunities. He's got great ball skills. He's doing a super job as a returner for us. But a very durable guy that works very hard to be in great shape on his body and all this kind of stuff, physical player. Just has a great future.
But he's having a good year for us. One of those guys we're really pleased with.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks for being with us. Good luck this weekend. Talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH SWINNEY: Thanks guys. Have a great day.