Dabo Swinney ACC teleconference transcript

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Audio of Dabo Swinney's teleconference (MP3 Format)

COACH SWINNEY: Good to be with you
guys. I'm proud of our team and staff for where we
are right now in the season. We have got a lot of
work to do. It doesn't get any easier.

Just got another very tough, physical
opponent this week. And Boston College is typical
BC, they are tough, hard-nosed, well-coached, and
you know, five of our last six games against these
guys for whatever reason have been (decided by)
a touchdown or less.

So they beat us last year up there, and so
it's going to be a tough opponent once again. We
are just trying to have a great week of practice and
you know just see if we can keep getting better.
Home coming for us and we are excited about a lot
of people coming back and hopefully we can play
well on Saturday.

Q. Can you talk about how you went
about reassuring Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
RS Jr. Tight End
#83 6-3, 255
Fayetteville, NC

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when you made
the changes in the off-season about what his
role would be in this offense, because I guess
he had some apprehension about it at first.

COACH SWINNEY: I just talked to him
and just told him obviously that I think he's a great
player and he's a guy that we have been trying to
involve since he got here. Just told him, I said,
listen, I'm interested in winning. You know, you're
going to have to trust me; that the changes that I'm
going to make are going to be the best changes for
the program, the team, but that you're going to be
a big part of this. Every thought I have, you're a
big part of it.

This guy is obviously a great weapon. So I
wouldn't be a very smart coach if you had a guy
like that and not involve him. And you know, he
thankfully trusted us and it's worked out great.

But you know, there was a lot of
misperception out there and people create their
own perception in putting all kind of garbage on the
Internet and all that kind of stuff, create -- you
spend half your time in this deal dealing with
problems that other people create that are not
even -- they are so far from reality, it's not even
funny. But you end up having to deal with it.

And a lot of people, oh, we are going to be
five-wides and all this kind of stuff, and just
nothing's further from the truth. We are a
power-oriented type of running football team that's
always going to involve a tight end, and especially
when you have a great one like we have got in
Dwayne Allen.

Q. What was the appeal to Chad's
offense when you decided to hire him?
Obviously the league has been hesitant to go in
that direction. You see it more in the Big 12
than we do in the ACC. What the was the
appeal to you for bringing him in?

COACH SWINNEY: It's what I wanted to
do for a couple of years. The timing of it was
perfect. Our quarterback situation was perfect. It's
what we were recruiting to, and it was just a good
time to make that change.

There was a lot of carryover. There was a
lot of similarities from what we were doing before
as far as just some of the schematic stuff: The
zone, the power, the counter; a lot of those things,
there's a lot of carryover. But I wanted to be able
to involve our quarterback more and all of the
elements that come with that. I wanted to have an
option threat involved in our offense. I really
wanted to attack more from a play-action
standpoint, especially down the field.

And all of those things were in place with
the system that Chad was running and I just felt
very confident. I kind of had a checklist of
everything I wanted, and as I went through my
process and met with Chad, it was check, check,
check, check, check, and then it was just a matter
of if the chemistry was going to be right. It couldn't
be better.

I’m just really happy that it all worked out
and we are playing pretty good.

Q. Does that offense work without a
player like Tajh or Sammy? We have seen
Oregon and Auburn in the National
Championship game, some pretty good players
and Boston College, which does not exactly
have the same personnel as you, or pick
another ACC team you are not playing this
week; is that one of the reasons why it's been
kind of successful?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, I don't think,
first of all, it doesn't matter what you do offensively;
if your players don't believe in it, you're not going to
be successful and vice versa. If they believe in it
and are totally committed to being great in
whatever system you're running, then you've got a
chance to be successful.

But there's no question, it all comes down
to the personnel. You've got to have good players.
I mean, listen, we run a lot of the same plays that
we have run, but they work a lot better when you
have got guys like Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Fr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-1, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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and certainly
this type of system, you need a quarterback who is
mobile, who can move around and do some things.
That is a critical part of what we do, and we are not
going to be as effective if we have a guy that can't

So it's definitely a part of it. But you need
speed, because you want to make people defend
every patch of grass out on the field and
everybody needs speed no matter what system
you're running.

So recruiting is the big key to success.
You have got to have good players and
everybody's got good coaches. Everybody's got
good coaches out there, and we have been
blessed that we have been able to recruit the last
couple of years and it's paying off for us in a big

Q. Your defense was pretty impressive
there last Saturday is; did you just take step
forward with your defense or how do you
account for how well you guys played on
defense last Saturday?

COACH SWINNEY: We definitely took a
step forward. We have been improving. We had,
all year long, we had had some really, really good
moments where we played very well.

But we also had some very shaky
moments where we, you know, just didn't play well
in spurts, giving up some big plays, missing some
tackles and just doing some things that we can
control and improve and we worked hard and we
just, like I said, have gotten better, a little bit better
in areas each week and I thought we played
probably our best game against Florida State.

And then we continued that improvement
at Virginia Tech. We took another step. And so
that was really good to see as far as -- they got a
lot of yards, but I wasn't pleased with the amount
of yards after contact that they got. But we tackled
better. We defended every pass. We were
executing the call. We really did a good job with
our gaps and all that type of stuff.

I mean, really just played a very solid
game, and you know, we have had good practices
and we have got good leadership over there and
some of our young guys are stepping up for us.
But that's the kind of effort and commitment to
preparation we have to have every week if we are
going to continue to improve.


COACH SPAZIANI: Well, we are excited
about going down to play Clemson,
nationally-ranked team, a great venue, great
program, great coaches and certainly some great

With that, questions.

Q. Can you talk about the problems
that Sammy Watkins presents? He's obviously
had a huge impact as a freshman at Clemson.
When you see him and compare him to the
other top receivers, seeing Gibbons last week
and Vernon and Varner the week before, what
does Watkins do that makes him so effective?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, he's a lot faster
than a lot of people, that's the first thing. You
know, when you watch him, it's hard to fathom that
he is just a true freshman. He has tremendous
skills, quickness and speed. He's a handful.

Q. Is he a guy that you shape your
coverage for, to double him or try to take him
away and make him do other things?

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, I don't know if
we are equipped to do that, but you certainly have
to be aware of where he is and what he does, and
schematically do the best job you can to make sure
you try to neutralize him in the best things he does.

Once again, I don't know, you have to be
on a certain level to do some of those things. We
have to play our defense.

Q. Coach, Clemson tries to set up a
quick pace offensively, snap the ball inside 20
seconds or so, does that create problems any
more for teams, or do you see that enough that
you are conditioned to it?

COACH SPAZIANI: No, I think it creates
problems and I think people are starting to create
their hands around it. I don't think we have our
hands around it; we being coaches, that is, as
much as we are going to need to with many teams
doing it, and it's certainly been a problem for us.
It's certainly something that's a big concern.

Q. I assume that it just pretty much
limits, if not eliminates, in some circumstances
situations, substitutions.

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, you know, it's
not -- when they substitute, you're supposed to be
allowed to substitute and so there's a gray area in
there. But it poses problems, it does, yeah,
because of, you know, trying to get fresh people on
the field and matchups. There are a lot of
problems there. That's why they do it.

Q. I know this is a loaded question, but
can you explain or summarize why you guys
have struggled so much this season?

COACH SPAZIANI: That's not a loaded
question. That's straightforward. We have
struggled, and once again explaining is not
excuse-making. We are who we are and we never
have excuses.

We have had some -- what usually
happens when you struggle. We have a
leadership issue. We have very few upper class
seniors on the team. We have had the ones that
were upper class injured and hurt. And we have
had guys in and out of the lineup, and we have had
an inconsistency in our practice schedules that has
shown up and manifested itself in the games.

Once again, they are realities and nothing
that we didn't expect or obviously there's some
different things that happened that no one
expected. But injuries that came -- you know they
are going to happen. You just are not sure who it's
going to happen. So everybody is going have
them and you have to work through the problems.
I hope that answers your loaded question.

Q. Is there anything that you can do in
the second half of the season to reverse that?

COACH SPAZIANI: First of all, we are not
into the second half. You know, we are getting
better. Let me just say that, all right and once
again, the record is what it is. But there's
improvement. The young players that are playing
are getting better. The players are working hard.
There's a tremendous attitude.

And we go one game at a time. You know,
the whole idea from the beginning, and this is not a
revelation for programs, but is to get better as the
season goes along. We always are looking to get
better week-to-week. I guess that will improve in
the second half, won't it?

Q. To follow up on that, have you
resigned yourself to, we are going to need win
ballgames, 21-20, 23-20, that kind of thing, have
you resigned yourself to, that there's a certain
kind of ballgame you can win, you have to play
a certain way defensively?

COACH SPAZIANI: Resign yourself is not
the term I would have used. We look at our squad,
and we looked at it in preseason and we looked at
it in summer and we looked at it as we are going
along. We are always evaluating how we have to
play to maximize our chances to win, and we knew
we had to play different coming in in some ways,
and as things have unfolded, you know, that's --
we have not quite met the challenge doing that.
We understand that we have to make some

Q. So you knew you had to play a
certain way, so you privately saw this coming;
that it was going to be a struggle offensively
this year?

COACH SPAZIANI: Not privately. I've
been quite forthcoming with how we -- with what
we needed to get out of certain people and how we
had to play and what our role would be as coaches
and putting guys in the right .

Q. With all of those great receivers
outside Clemson has, how difficult is it to
handle their tight end, Dwayne Allen, who is
also a big, physical, fast guy?

COACH SPAZIANI: You're right, he's a
great football player. They have a lot of great
football players. And we usually do when there are
a lot of great receivers like that, we just don't cover
the decoys.

Q. You were asked recently about sort
of a comparison to last season when you got
started slow and finished strong and from what
I kind of read in the comments, you basically
shot down any type of comparisons. And I'm
wondering what your thinking was in doing
that, or is it a message to your players, don't
expect that you can magically turn things
around; some people might have thought you
were sounding kind of pessimistic with those

COACH SPAZIANI: You know, first of all,
I'm not pessimistic at all. I'm very optimistic. What
I was trying to say was, yes, there is certainly a
comparison in both years, the starts have not been
exactly what you would like. Let's put it that way;
the optimist.

But they are different teams with different
problems and certainly different circumstances.
And yes, we did it once and certainly you can build
on that, and you should. But it doesn't guarantee
and we are certainly working towards that. That's
what I was trying to say. I was in no way implying
pessimism, because that's not even a thought.
Matter of fact I'm very optimistic about the direction
we are going.

Q. What gives you some optimism?

COACH SPAZIANI: The optimism is that
we have a tremendous amount of improvement
that we can make. There's a tremendous amount
of potential.

Now, potential means you haven't done it
yet; but we have that. And it looks like it's a
function of time and we have to speed it up as fast
as possible. And we have kids that are working
hard, understand exactly what they have to do,
and they are coming out to practice and to get as
good as they possibly can be.

The guys that are out there every day are
getting better, and we'll all get better for it. That's
my -- there's a lot to be optimistic about.

Q. Montel, can you quantify where he is
physically at this point?

COACH SPAZIANI: Montel will be
day-to-day throughout, you know -- that's where he
is. It's taken a long time to get to this point, and
best answer I can give you is he's day-to-day.

Q. He's shown incredible grit to be able
to work through that.

COACH SPAZIANI: Well, Montel, I've said
it over and over again. Montel is a very special
person and he's certainly a very special player,
and we all recognize it here in BC.

Q. The other thing, curiously, this
Clemson/Boston College rivalry in the ACC has
taken on kind of an identity of its own,
obviously recognized with the trophy deal; but
just the nature of the games and the closeness
and some of the dramatic outcomes. Is it just
kind of a curiosity or is it -- do you have a view
of it?

somebody asked that. I think early on, a couple of
the games had some implications. They had --
they were all important but some are exponentially
important with rewards and outcomes. So I think
that has taken it on, and they have got great fans,
and they have been for the most part competitive
games. So other than that, I can't really explain it.

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