Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript


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COACH SWINNEY: Just getting ready for
another well-coached team this week in Wake
Forest. A team that has had a tough season so
far. Kind of like ourselves, but just continues to
play hard. It's obviously a big week for us and
trying to get bowl eligible this week and get our first
win on the road. Something we have not done yet.

Big game for them too. It's their last home
game, Senior Day and all that stuff. Look forward
to hopefully playing our best game on the road this
week up there in Winston-Salem against a team I
know is going to give us a great effort.
We should get Kourtnei Brown back this
week from an injury standpoint. Question mark on
Brandon Maye. Last night in practice it looks like
we might have lost Bryce McNeal for this game as
well. He came down and had a heel injury, and
he's on crutches today. So does not look good for
him this weekend. With that I'll take whatever
questions you've got.


Q. What is the status on (Andre)
Ellington?


COACH SWINNEY: He's definitely out
this week. We've got to make a decision by
Tuesday of next week. That's what we're shooting
for in trying to get him ready for the Carolina game.
Hopefully, we'll be able to get a green light on
Tuesday. If not, then we'll have to go ahead and
do the surgery and move on. But we're still
hopeful for that.


Q. It looked like (Jamie) Harper really
stepped up last week to fill that hole. Can you
talk about the job he did?


COACH SWINNEY: Oh, man. Your heart
breaks for a guy that you don't get the W on the
scoreboard. We had some great, great individual
performances in our game versus Florida State last
week, and Jamie Harper was one of them;
140-something yards rushing. Had another eight
or nine catches, I think, almost right around 200
yards all purpose. Just had a great game and
really tried to put the team on his back.

Really proud of how he has stepped up
and has imposed his will to try to get us on the
right side of things here in the last couple of games
that Ellington's been out. If we're going to have a
chance to win out, he's going to have to continue
to play that way.


Q. How do you get your team's
attention against a team that's lost eight games
in a row like Wake Forest has? Because they
can look at the record like anybody else, and
they may feel like well, this is one we're going
to go get. But obviously it's not that easy.
Wonder how you get that message across?


COACH SWINNEY: Well, for us it's really
more about our situation. If we were a 10-0 team
or something, I might be a little more concerned
about that. But we're a team that is scratching and
clawing, and we've had our share of
disappointment as well.

Boston College had lost several games
when we went up there. You know, this team here
will certainly be capable of beating us. There is no
doubt about that. Wake Forest plays very tough at
home, in particular. f you look at who they've
played at home, their games are close. We'll have
to play a good football game.

Our focus is not as much on them and
their record and all that stuff. It's about how we
play. When the game kicks off, all that stuff goes
out the window. It doesn't matter what your records
are or what has happened previously in the season
or what's to come. It's about that day, that play.
For us, it's about trying to have a consistent
performance throughout the game so that we can
win the football game. That's really all we're trying
to focus on.


Q. Have you talked to your guys about
or the aspect that if we win this one, we're bowl
eligible, or do you think they're aware enough
of that that they don't need to be reminded of
it?


COACH SWINNEY: Oh, no, no. They're
very much aware of what's out there. This is a
huge game from a bowl eligibility standpoint. At
this point in the season you want to finish as strong
as you possibly can. Any time you lineup and play
you want to win.

For us this is a big game because we can
secure bowl eligibility. One of our goals every year
is to win our bowl game. You can't win your bowl
game if you're not in one. So that's a big deal for
us.

We want to get to the very best bowl game
we can, so we've got to win as many games as
possible to better our chances of moving up the
ladder. That's what this week's all about. It's
about securing that bowl eligibility and putting
ourselves in position to have a strong finish.


Q. I want a quick thumbnail evaluation
of your offense at this point. I know you've had
some injuries with the guys you graduated last
year. Just kind of your evaluation as you look
forward and back towards what your offense
has done and sort of the things you're looking
to improve on these last couple of regular
season weeks?


COACH SWINNEY: The team's playing hard as a whole and offensively in particular.
We've done a lot of good things. We're definitely
missing some explosiveness, there is no doubt
about that, without having Ellington. He's kind of
our big play guy. So we're hitting a lot of doubles,
as I said yesterday, hitting a lot of doubles and
leaving guys stranded on third - Kind of a
thumbnail sketch of where we are offensively.

But I couldn't be more proud of how our
offensive line has played. It's tough being an
offensive lineman right now here because these
guys are playing the best football that we've
probably had here in the offensive line in a long
time. I mean, a long time.

We played the number one sack team in
America the other night, and they couldn't sniff our
quarterback. We're moving the ball up-and-down
the field, averaging four and a half yards a rush on
a good team at their place.

These guys, you know, we lead the league
in not giving up sacks - One of the top 15 in the
country in not giving up sacks. But we're not
getting the points in the red zone.

The biggest problem for us offensively is
red zone scoring is a combination of touchdowns
and field goals, and we don't have a good
combination right now. We've scored 21
touchdowns, but we're 6 of 12 from the 20 in on
field goals and that's really hurt us. That's been
the difference in probably two or three wins for us,
especially with how our defense has played.

At the same time, having said that, our
offense is doing a lot of good things. We're just not
finishing some drives with some points. That has
become a real frustrating thing over the last few
weeks.

But Kyle Parker's really playing well.
Jamie Harper's playing well. Our young receivers
that we all knew that were going to be a transition
for us this year, our young receivers have emerged
like I hoped they would.

(DeAndre) Hopkins is going to be a great
player over his career here. Jaron Brown is a
special guy that is a sophomore, and Bryce
McNeal has done some good things as a freshman
as well.

They've made some big plays the other
night to put us in position to win. So we're doing
some good things, the biggest thing is missing
some of those explosive plays that Ellington
brought to the table and some of those guys last
year.


Q. How has practice been this week?

COACH SWINNEY: Really good. That is
the one thing I'm probably most proud about this
team is how they've responded. We've had
some -- it's not like we just have been drug up the
field and you just take a whipping and go to the
house. These guys have battled every play. And
four road losses by 17 points, that's our season
right there.

We haven't won on the road and we've
been in position to win the number one team in the
country. You lose by a field goal, and you lose by
a 55-yarder at the buzzer the other night at Florida
State. It's tough. As young people you worry
about that.

But these guys have gotten stronger.
They're closer. Enthusiasm is good at practice,
and I'm really proud of that. And I think that's a
good sign that we have the right things in place
from our program from a coaching standpoint and
how the coaches talked to them - How the
leadership on the team is and that type of stuff. It's
been good.

It's been as good as you can possibly
expect from a team that's had to deal with some of
the disappointment that we've had.


Q. You mentioned DeAndre Hopkins
just a minute ago emerging. Obviously as a
freshman he's made a big impact lately. What
qualities does he bring that makes him
effective as a receiver?


COACH SWINNEY: He's got off the
charts competitiveness, first of all. I mean the guy
is a great, great competitor. Then he just has
excellent athleticism, he's got a long body, and has
great hands. He has the ability to make whatever
catch is required.

If you've watched him this year, you've
seen just about everything. He's made some great
plays, one handers behind him. Low, high, he's
going to be some kind of player as he continues to
develop.

He's got to get stronger. He's still a young
guy. He needs another year in that weight room.
But his instincts, his competitiveness, and his
ability to catch the football make him special.

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