Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript


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Audio of Dabo Swinney's teleconference (MP3 Format)

COACH SWINNEY: Thank you, good to
be with you all today. Biggest thing for us as a
team as we move through this week in practice is
try to continue to get better. We are 2-0 and we
feel fortunate to be 2-0 and you know we feel like
that we are improving in some areas and definitely
have got a lot of work still to do.

But I like this it football team, and we are
excited about the opportunity this week in playing
Auburn. Obviously they have got the longest
winning streak in the country and they have earned
that, and we have got a tough task in front of us to
try to knock these guys off.

But you know, we are looking forward to
having a great environment here Saturday, and
hopefully playing our first truly complete game of
the season, because that's probably what it's going
to take to beat these guys.
With that, I'll take whatever questions you
ever.

Q. How hard is it to keep your team
focused on just winning the game and not
trying to seek revenge from the overtime loss
from last year?

COACH SWINNEY: That's not a real big
motivating factor. That might be something more
for the fans or something.

We are just -- go through our normal
process. Our formula success doesn't change
regardless of who we play or where we play or
when we play. It's really irrelevant to us as a team.
We just focus on trying to practice the right way,
and making sure our effort is where it needs to be
and our commitment and just work to the standard
that we have set. That's really all we focus on, and
watch film and prepare.

They all know that this is a great
opportunity for us, and that it's a team that we
know a lot about, but they also know a lot about
us.

At the end of the day, it's just trying to be
the best team from an execution standpoint,
because that's what we have to do to have a
chance to win.

Q. In your opinion, where is your team
struggling the most, after facing opponents like
Wofford and not being able to beat them
handily?


COACH SWINNEY: That always amuses
me when I hear people talk about that. Nobody
ever wants to give the opponent any credit. They
are championship programs, and they are tough
outs for anybody. So you know, we are very proud
to be 2-0. Do we want to play better? Do we have
to play better? Yes. But the objective is to win that
game and whatever you've got to do to win that
game.

So you know, that's really all we are
focused on. There's a lot of areas we have to
improve in and really just consistency to having
good, crisp execution.

Defensively, we have got to tackle better.
That's something that we have not done a great
job of, and we have got to minimize the big plays
and just play with some poise. We are playing a
lot of young guys and got to keep growing those
guys up offensively. We are doing a lot of good
things there.

We have got to continue to take care of the
ball. But the biggest thing is, you know, put it all
together, two halves, which we have not done yet.
So that's the objective just to go play a complete
game.

Q. With the speculation nationally
about the advancement of super conferences
merging and 16-team leagues, you've played
these games against Auburn and Alabama and
I'm sure they have been beneficial to your
program, if schools start playing nine- and
ten-game conference schedules; there a reason
that they might be less likely to schedule these
big interconference matchups like this? And I
wondered how important these games -- like
the one you have this week have been, in
getting exposure for your program to kids who
might not otherwise see it and just the overall
growth of Clemson football.


COACH SWINNEY: Well, I mean, I think
that those things would go away for sure, if we get
into some kind of mega- conference type deal.
And I have no idea if that's where it's going. You
know, there's a lot of speculation, a lot of people
talking about all that stuff. I really at this point -- I
literally don't pay it any attention. Just got a job to
do and I know it's above me. That's more the
president's level right now as far as what's going
on.

But it seems to be picking up some
momentum and if it goes that route, I don't think
you'll see games like this, which to me, is sad. I've
always been a traditionalist with college football
and I love some of the great rivalries that you have.
It's great to see Alabama play Penn State in that
type of stuff.

You know, I don't think you'll be able to do
that if you're having 16 or 20 teams in a
conference. Change is inevitable it seems and
we'll just have to see how the landscape goes and
then it will all shake out from there. But I have no
idea right now how it's going to shake out.

Q. Do you get the sense though that
that is one thing that players like about coming
to Clemson that you guys do consistently
schedule these games?

COACH SWINNEY: I think people like
coming to Clemson because it's Clemson. We are
in a great conference and we have an incredible
environment here and a great fan base and an
incredible game day experience, high academic
standards, great coaches, great support and
resources.

I think that's why they come to Clemson,
because of those things. They know if you come
to Clemson, you're going to play a great schedule
and great teams and have a chance to win. But
that's probably the biggest reason, not who we are
playing.

Q. It's been well documented that
Auburn has won ten games decided by eight
points or fewer. Some attribute it to luck. What
do you attribute it to?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, you make your
own luck. I think that they have done a great job in
creating a winning culture over there, Coach Chizik
and his staff deserve a lot of credit.

I was a part of a 20-something game
winning streak at Alabama and the one thing that I
can remember is, you just expect to win. When
you win that many games in a row, you expect to
win. You just never panic. You expect for
somebody to make a play and good things happen
for you whenever that ball gets rolling and that's
what's happened with Auburn.

People can say whatever they want. And
they have just found a way to win for 17 straight
games and that is incredibly difficult to do.
Especially when you play a difficult schedule like
they play, an out of conference schedule and have
to win a championship game and stay healthy.

There's so much that goes into that, so
you know, I don't really get into the luck. I mean,
yeah, I think to be a championship team, you have
to catch a break or two here along the way, but I
believe that you make your own breaks.

Q. And you have experience with them
last year in that overtime game obviously; can
you talk about that experience, and do you
expect this game this week to be similar to that
one?


COACH SWINNEY: Well, the last two
times we played Auburn they have been overtime
and unfortunately Clemson has come out on the
short end of the both of those. I expect it to be a
very hard-fought game.

I know our team is excited to play, and
they are going to try to defend this turf with
everything they have got and try to find a way to
win the game. I mean, I don't doubt that at all. But
I also know that Auburn is going to do everything
they can to extend their streak. That's what they
do.

And last year was a very physical game.
We just made a couple more mistakes -- at the end
of the day, we had some really critical missed
opportunities that you have to make to win those
type of games. And really, things that weren't
totally in our control that we didn't take advantage
of, and that was the biggest disappointment of that
game was really just more things that we didn't do.

And it was a great football game, and I
hate that it ended the way it did. But I would
expect another hard-fought game for sure.

Q. A lot easier to prepare for them
without Cam Newton? What's different?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, certainly I'm
kind of glad Cam Newton is with the Carolina
Panthers. I'm not going to lie to you about that.
But they are very difficult to prepare for. Coach
Malzahn uses their personnel very well, and
whereas they may have called more quarterback
counters or quarterback powers, because they had
the ability of Newton. This year, they are just
calling more of something else that was already in
their system, but equally, equally as dangerous.

They have got some playmakers, 23 and
80 and 5 and 43, they are going to run their
offense through those guys and you'd better know
where they are. The biggest thing is just he's
calling some things differently. But so far, they
have kind of lived on the big play and found a way
to win. We have to do a great job of stopping the
run and making them have to go the distance and
not giving them big plays.

Q. You talked about Auburn getting the
ball rolling and how that helps you in close
games and that sort of thing. Given how close
you were at Auburn and where they ended up
in the season and where you guys ended up
the end of the season, was it -- do you have to
play a little bit of the what if, if Kyle ParkerKyle Parker
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pass is completed in the end zone?


COACH SWINNEY: I think that's part of it,
every year, when you look back on your season, all
teams, you look back on your season and you go,
oh, man, that game right there, or oh boy, that was
a moment that really created some momentum.

My first year we won down at Miami. They
are a Top-10 team on the road. We upset them
down there and that just kind of sparked us and we
come back and beat Florida State and Virginia and
win our division and go play in the championship
game.

And then last year, we just never really
recovered. We had some guys hurt. We
continued to play hard. But we had a hard time
winning the close ones. We had a hard time -- we
missed a big kick down there at Auburn and as the
season went, we never really were able to get the
kick game going to where we could win those close
ones and that was the story of our season.

I think our guys are confident, if nothing
else, because they learn from all of their
experiences. They learn from the positive. They
learn from the negative. And if nothing else,
seeing Auburn go on and win the national
championship, I think that was kind of a
confirmation, at least in these guys, because we
are a young program in what we are trying to
establish for the long term here, and the biggest
thing is that you have to establish a belief in what
you're doing and a belief that you can be special.
So I think that if nothing else that, gave these guys
confirmation that, hey, we can play with anybody.

We have got to improve in some areas that
we can line up and compete. So if nothing else,
that's one positive when you're dealing with young
people for them to be able to draw upon.

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