Dabo Swinney weekly press conference

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CLEMSON – Highlights from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s press conference, reviewing the victory over Virginia Tech and previewing this week’s game against Boston College.

Opening statement

“I am really happy we are 5-0 at this point in the season. Our focus is on 100 percent on just trying to win our division. That's all our focus is on. Just trying to get to 3-0 in the ACC. Really like the business-like approach our team took yesterday. Our senior meeting was outstanding. They know we've got a ton of improvement to do. There's a lot of work we have to get done - in a lot of areas. We are finding ways to win. They keep responding and I'm thankful for the leadership we have on this team. I've been saying that since last spring. They are just focused. You put that with talent and great work ethic you have a have a chance.”

On Boston College

“Boston College is a typical B.C.-type team. Tough, physical. Five of the last six games [between the two schools] have been a touchdown or less. They beat us last year I know they are not having a great season last year to this point, but they were 2-5 last year when they beat us and I don't believe they lost a game after that. We know we are in for a tough game against these guys. The other thing is that it's Homecoming. That's a special time here for our fans and we obviously we want to make it a special week. Again, just trying to have a good routine this week and do things the way we want to do them all year. Boston College - they try to get you to line up wrong with their motions. Montel Harris is an outstanding running back. We had a hard time getting him on the ground. He had a lot of yards after contact and he had the one touchdown they had on a wheel route. They have a controlled type passing game and then they'll take their shorts. But for us we have to stop the run. If you are going to win this game you have to stop the run and win first down. That would be advantage Clemson. Their defense is strong, physical and young. They don't have the stats they have had in the last couple of years, but they are really tough every single year with their style of play, especially with how they slant and angle their defensive line. They always have big, physical linebackers that can run. They only have one senior on defense and just two on offense. They are a young football team that is only going to get better. They are active up front. Their linebacker, [Luke] Kuechly - he may be the best linebacker in the country. You can stop the film on every play and somewhere he's in the picture. You see him somewhere around the ball. He's something special. He leads the country in tackles. He's relentless. We have our hands full with him.”

On injuries

“Injury-wise, we are in pretty good shape. We do have a lot of guys beaten up. The only one that is definitely out is Spencer Benton. He's going to be out for a while. He fractured his shoulder. I'm hopeful we will get him back at some point. He's a guy we are definitely going to miss. We will take tomorrow to figure out who will be our kickoff guy. Dawson [Zimmerman] will be our holder. [Chandler] Catanzaro will be our backup punter. He's capable. Kickoff-wise Dawson and Catanzaro will be the guys we look at.

On adding to the package for Tajh Boyd

“We did more naked last week. They were effective. It was more play-action boots type of deal. We carry those. We just called it more with what they are doing. Some teams don't pursue as much from the backside so it's not as effective. We continue to open it up. We are doing a lot of same things we just have different ways of doing it. We have a big library of calls. We are right on track. Did not play great offensively last week. Tajh was a little off. Tough defense and a tough environment and the wind - we weren't quite as good but we made enough plays. We made the five or six plays we had to make to win the game.”

On difference between this year and last year

“They bought in last year. We had a bad record but we weren't a bad team. Nobody last year was excited about playing Clemson last year - I can promise you. I saw a lot of love on our football team last year. I can promise you. Yes we had to fix some things and get better. But we had a lot of things that were starting to take root. But the biggest thing is we have outstanding leadership on our team and our staff. Those intangibles are very important to a football team. The accountability of this team and the leadership is better. We have better players. We have more weapons. We tried hard last year but we got a whole different dimension to us this year that we didn't have last year.”

On the chemistry of the staff

“I didn't think we had quite the chemistry that we had last year that we have this year. That's my fault. It's my job to make sure we have the right kind of morale. Our team - we are more talented. We've recruited very well. We just have better chemistry. We didn't have bad chemistry last year. We had good people. That's not it at all. It was just my job to fix us. That's what you do every year at the end of the year. When it's all said and done, good or bad, you sit down and evaluate everything from a program standpoint and you keep moving forward. That's in business and in football.”

On not listening to accolades and the press

“It's a challenge in the world we live in. It used not to be as bad. A lot of players probably didn't pick up a newspaper. But it really is a challenge because they are social people. Twitter, internet and Facebook. That kind of stuff. It's a challenge. We've done a good job with it as a team and a staff. What they've bought in to, is that listen, we are Clemson. The outside is irrelevant. It's about us. If we will be about our work ethic we will change Clemson. You don't worry about what they are saying. We know what's going on. We are here every day. That's a challenge for young people. Not from me because I've been through it all - good and bad. But young people are still growing in that area. Our players have done a great job of blocking all of that out. They've bought into all the right things. So now when people are patting us on the back and telling us how great we are ... it's been a great teaching process for our team. That's why our leadership is so great this year. They've done a great job for our young players. All of that stuff is irrelevant. Here's why we are 5-0. Stay focused on our preparation.”

On being a work in progress

“I think that's proven to be true. But we are pretty much a work in progress. Our defense is getting better. We weren't very good the first two or three weeks. Offensively, we started out slow but then got it going. I felt like Tajh was really going to play well but I don't think I expected him to be where he is right now. He's been outstanding. I'm really proud of him. Sammy Watkins - I expected him to be great. And he's been great. Corey Crawford - statistically isn't flashy right now. But excited about him and his future. Tig Willard - there's a guy. He redshirts. Didn't play much as a redshirt freshman. Then gets hurt. Now the light has come on for this guy. A lot of guys who have stepped up in a lot of ways. Brandon Thomas. He's been a positive for us. Phillip Price -he's been outstanding. We have several guys that are a work in progress. Some of our young defensive tackles. “

On Mike Bellamy

“Bellamy will see more snaps because he is earning that. We tried to get him going with a couple of packages early then we put him out there and we can't trust him. He's responded well. Obviously he can really spark a game. But if he continues to practice how he did last week and last night, you'll see his role increase. He's earned it and he can change the complexion of a game.”

On Brandon Thompson

“He ain't off the radar from the National Football League. He's a great football player. He is the heart and soul of this defense. He doesn't say a lot but does on the field. He's a joy to be around every day. Very good player. Going to be a high draft pick. Plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He likes to play. He hates to come out. Every now and then he likes to have a little breather. In the past he would come out on our rabbits package but he's worked so hard for our pass rush. But not anymore. Our opponents know about him. Turn the film on - he stands out.”

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