Dabo Swinney Weekly Press Conference

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Windows Media (36:15)

Q: Opening remarks.

A: “We had a good start to the week last night. We’re heading back in the right direction
as far as putting together a good plan for Duke. The guys’ attitudes are good. I’m really
excited about Homecoming. It’s always a great time, especially here at Clemson.
There’s a lot of family, friends, alumni, and former players that will be here to embrace
Clemson. I’m looking forward to it being a special day on Saturday. I know it will be a
great crowd. A lot of our former lettermen are going to be here to lead us in the Tiger
Walk. I look forward to seeing all of those guys.
“The game is going to be a tough task for us. Duke is a much improved football team.
We are two teams with the same record right now and we’re both trying to get back to
.500 and have a chance for a winning season and a bowl game. So this game is extremely
important and critical for both teams.
“ Duke is well coached. I’ve know (Duke Head Coach) David Cutcliffe a long time.
He’s an Alabama graduate like myself. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. He’s an
outstanding coach. He has an excellent staff. I want to compliment Duke on what they’ve
accomplished this season. It will be a big task for us this weekend, but we’ll be ready.”

Q: In preparation for Duke.

A: “I would like to get back to playing Clemson football no matter who shows up. We
still have work to do. I coach that every day. I’ve got to plant the right seeds every day,
which includes seeds of hope, encouragement, discipline, and the right type of mentality.
A part of that is showing up regardless of who the opponent is. You play at a level they
can’t match. That’s what my vision is. We’re not there yet. We showed some spots on
Saturday. We still have some work to do. We are making progress. But we still have
work to do.”

Q: On Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and wide receiver Eron Riley.

A: “They’re very good. Riley is a really good player. He can run. He’s had a nice
career and an outstanding season. They’ve done a nice job of getting him the ball. It’s
pretty easy to see who their go-to guy is. We’re going to have to do a great job of
defending him. They’ve been effective when they’ve run the ball at times. They will do
whatever they have to do to win the game. The thing that scares me about the quarterback
is that he can run. They will scheme runs for him as the primary ball carrier. He’s a

Q: On fairness of taking the head coaching job in the middle of the season.

A: “It is what it is. I don’t make excuses. There are a lot of other people out there that
have a lot less fair situations than this. This is a great opportunity. I’m blessed to be
doing what I’m doing. I think it’s fair. I have the opportunity to lead a great group of
men and make a difference in their lives. It’s not about me. I’m going to do the best I
can every day, with a great attitude and work ethic. Hopefully, the scoreboard will reflect
what I want it to reflect, which is wins. That’s what we work for every day. I’m trying
to do things the right way and help these guys through a difficult situation. I want to
finish on a positive note.”

Q: On Clemson’s offense.

A: “Offensively, we’re getting better. We weren’t scoring many points. Now we’ve
scored 17, 27, and 27 (in the last three games) against three pretty good football teams. I
see us getting better.”

Q: Is this team in better shape than it was before you took over?

A: “I hope so. I know we’re 1-2. I hope we’re a closer team. I hope we’re a closer fan
base. I want the fans to support these players. I think we were a fractured program prior
to three ball games ago. I don’t feel that now. I feel that people have rallied around this
team. I hope fans don’t quit on these players. It’s not about me or the other coaches. It’s
about these players. They practice every day and work hard.”

Q: On quarterback Cullen Harper.

A: “The coaches voted him player-of-the-game (at Florida State). He played well. He
had the one mistake and that was when we had a missed assignment in pass protection.
Cullen looked away and the guy was at his chin. He played well. He showed a lot of
toughness standing there. There was a lot of pressure on him the whole game. He made
some good throws. He moved around well. That throw to Michael Palmer was a thing of
beauty. He played a really good game. I was very pleased to see how he reacted.”

Q: Relationship with Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe.

A: “He’s a class guy. Our relationship is just professional. We’ve always known each
other and battled each other for years when I was at Alabama and he was at Tennessee
and Mississippi. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. I’ve written him notes over the
years and he has responded back. He went to Alabama. Then, he went to Tennessee for
graduate school and was there for a long time. He was a part of many wins. He’s a guy
that has proven that he can win.”

Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe Quotes

On what he expects from this weekend’s road trip to Clemson:

“I looked up Webster’s definition of a challenge – I’m here to educate you today – and it
said “an act or statement of defiance, a demand for explanation or justification, a
century’s call to an unknown party for proper identification,’ and the last one said
‘Taking a team to Death Valley to play Clemson.’ It’s a fun week, because it’s such a big
challenge, to take a team to Clemson and play an extremely talented team.”

On Clemson’s coaching change:

“They’ve obviously had a very emotional year with a coaching change – two of their
coaches who started the season aren’t with them anymore. That’s difficult for young men,
and they’ve handled that very well. It’s a nice statement to the maturity of their team.
They’ve got a talented team, some great players and some future NFL players. They
provide a lot of challenges in that regard. They’ve also made some changes and
adjustments since Dabo (Swinney) is in charge, so you have to watch closely to see what
team is going to show up. It’s going to take great preparation on our part.”

On how the team is preparing for the game, and what it will take for Duke to be
successful against the Tigers:

“We had a really, really good practice this morning. It’s probably as crisp a practice as
we’ve had on a Tuesday morning. We’re going to have to maintain that and be prepared
well enough to go down there and play better. We’ve got to worry about Duke. We’ve got
to play four quarters of really solid football. We’ve been good, but we’ve been
consistently inconsistent as of late in all phases. We’re going to have to throw one of
those games together where we’re consistently good throughout the 60 minutes of play.”
On how Duke has evolved throughout the season:

“What they’re starting to learn is that inconsistencies in games come from
inconsistencies in practice. There is no guarantee that you’re not ever going to drop the
ball or have some kind of error, but the better and more consistent you practice, you
minimize the chances of those things rising up at the worst time. Covering kickoffs is a
good example.”

On taking on Clemson’s defense, which is among the top units in the conference in
red-zone defense:

“I’ve said this more than once about red-zone play, but it’s really an indication of talent.
It’s like playing football in the back yard – you shrink the field, and it really becomes a
matter of athlete-on-athlete making plays. We can do spacing and a lot of things on the
field and they have to defend this way and this way, but when you get down to the red
zone, all of a sudden all they have to defend is the width of the field. What you’d like to
do is 100 out of 100 times be able to run the ball and score. But it doesn’t always happen
that way – safeties are closer to the line of scrimmage, and plus, we’re not going to be
able to whip Clemson’s front line. We’re just going to have to realize our opportunities
when we get them.”

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