Dabo Swinney weekly press conference

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CLEMSON – Highlights from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s press conference Tuesday in the WestZone.

On being a second half team

“I think we've had a good first half to our season, and one of the things I've told the team is we've been a good second half team all year and we need to have a good second half. We are going to have to be a really good road team in the second half of the season. But I'm proud of them. We are getting better. People always ask, ‘How do you keep them focused?’ Well you turn the film on. We haven't played a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination.”

On playing Maryland

“This is a really big game against Maryland in terms of our team goals. They are a division opponent and right in the thick of it. They only have one loss (in conference). If you want to be in the driver's seat we have to handle our business. It's about us and how we play. Maryland is a very capable team. Don't let their record fool you. They lost to the No. 12 team in the country in Georgia Tech, 21-16. And Georgia Tech has been blowing everybody up. They also played No. 13 West Virginia close. They beat Miami. Offensively, I think they are starting just two seniors. They are a young team. Their offensive line is big. They have two big tackles - one of which we recruited here. Their tight end, No. 89 [Matt Furstenberg] really does a lot of things well. He's their second leading receiver.

“I think their receivers are the strength of their team. They can all run. As a group they are dangerous. They throw a ton of screens. We'll have to play well at corner. We'll have to tackle after the catch as well. Their running back, [Davin] Meggett, we've played him before. He's big, tough runner. Number 44 [Justus Pickett] will play a good bit too. At quarterback, obviously they are not sure themselves. They made a change last week. I know this – Number 5 [Danny O’Brien] is a good player. Number 16 [backup QB C.J. Brown], in one game he's the second-leading rusher on the team. He can run the football. If he's the guy we are going to have to do a really good job defending him from a zone-read standpoint. Defensively, they are an even front, an odd front. Defensive line is led by number 72 [Joe Vellano] . He's a really good football player. He makes a lot of plays and brings a lot of energy. Their linebackers are athletic. Number 6 [Kenny Tate] actually played safety for him last year and now he's kind of the SAM linebacker and good talent in the secondary. This is a really capable football team. Perception wise, they may not be but this team is capable of winning the division.”

On injuries

“Injury-wise, I think we are in as good of shape as we are in in a while. Obviously the situation with Tajh could have been worse. But he's fine. So with that we are in good shape.”

On what he looks out for while trying to keep team focused

“Distractions. All of a sudden, you lose an edge. You lose your focus. You get complacent. You start reading your press clippings and you then you start to think you just need to show up and you win. If that's the case then Auburn would have showed up here and won. Florida State would have won. When we went to Virginia Tech, they would have won. We prepare with a purpose everyvday. We have an all-in commitment to do the very best we can on and off the field. That's all we focus on right now. Everything else is irrelevant. I've seen that happen with teams – they lose their focus. They lose their humility. You have to stay dialed in as a team and realize it's a team goal. You have to nourish the concept of team and family. That's what we have to keep doing. “

On last trip to Maryland

“We were far from this team the last time we were up there. We should have won that game. They tried to give it to us and we wouldn't take it. That was an early game. We turned it over early. The last play of the game we had a quick gain and we held the ball. But we made a lot of mistakes. We were still a team trying to figure it out. We didn't play well. It wasn't a lack of focus. We didn't know what we were to be honest. We didn't play well. We prepared well. We just didn't handle the situation very well. Anybody in this league can beat you. When you go on the road in this league, anybody can beat you. But in this case, in this situation, it's different. We are 6-0. We've got people talking about us and that's great. We want to be right here. We want people to talk good about Clemson. And we want people to raise the expectations at Clemson outside of Clemson. But in order to be able to be in the elite of college football you have to consistently perform. You've got to take pride in your personal performance and play well. And if you have talent, you'll have the chance to get your program where you want it to be.”

On if there is anything on this team that is a mystery to him

“I think we are who we are. We've answered a lot of questions. There were a bunch of questions, but I think we've answered all those. I'm very confident in how our guys are going to respond - good or bad. I saw that last year with these guys. I know this team very well and very comfortable with the challenges ahead - good or bad.”

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