Dabo Swinney's Ball St. press conference

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson’s defense looked good at times in Saturday’s season opener against Auburn in the Georgia Dome, and then there were times where breakdowns were noticeable for all to see.

Head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said during his weekly Tuesday press conference that the defense had both bad and good moments.

“It was as a bad as it looked at times and good,” Swinney said to the media, “Good way to describe it. We did some really good things but had critical mistakes. They came out in a twins set a couple of times and we don't line up properly and are a man short. But again, a very, very difficult opener to prepare for. The staff did an excellent job making adjustments. The fourth quarter we were at our best. The most encouraging thing to me is that they only scored one touchdown and that's the No. 1 stat for me - scoring defense. Somebody may go up and down the field but how many times do they cross the goal line. We are just going to get better over there. We got to start somewhere. We've got some film to study from and improve from. “

This week, Clemson’s defense gets to take on a Ball St. team that rolled up over 600 yards of offense last weekend, and Swinney said that the Cardinals have some offensive weapons.

“It's a team that was 6-6 last year in coach [Pete] Lembo's last year and they had two or three close losses,” Swinney said. “They did some good things last year, but is even more improved this year. They beat Ohio and obviously that was a team that just came in and beat Penn State. Offensively, they are fast. They've got speed as in guys who can run and then they have tempo. Very impressed with their quarterback - No. 10 [Keith Wenning] Accurate thrower. Great arm and can make all the throws. Big guy. Very impressed with him and his ability to move the team. They also have a running back, No. 32 [Jahwan Edwards], who can probably play with anybody. Big, strong, powerful runner with great hip flexibility that can make you miss. He very rarely doesn't finish falling forward. The backup, No. 4 [Horactio Banks], a freshman has been impressive too.

“They have a couple of tight ends they mix in there. The receivers were all well-coached. They have a little guy, No. 2 who is not very big but man oh man you better know where he is. He can take a small catch and turn it into a big catch. Defensively, they've got five or six starters back. They move and disguise a lot. There will be a lot of stemming. We have to catch the movement. They will be in some even and odd (fronts). We've been impressed with them. “

Swinney said his team’s focus, however, needs to be inward.

“The big challenge for us is to take care of Clemson,” he said. “We are our biggest challenge every week. Obviously we have to eliminate the pre-snap penalties if we are going to improve and we look forward to seeing everybody on Saturday.”

He said he doesn’t think his team should have difficulty preparing for Ball St.

“It shouldn't be difficult. If it's difficult than we aren't going to be a championship team,” Swinney said. “If it's difficult to get ready to play one of 12 games then you aren't going to be a championship team. It's that simple. If that's the mentality of our players then we won't be a great team. Here's a standard you have to play to. Every opponent is nameless. The weather doesn't matter. Where you play doesn't matter. When you step on the field you play to a standard. Before we get to game day there's a formula of success you have to play to. Everything you do matters. Going to sleep. Eating the right way.

All that stuff matters. Going to your meetings with purpose. That's our formula. If we are focused on other things then we won't win.”

He also said he doesn’t know if this team will find its true identity until after the next few weeks.

“I said before the season that I don't think we are going to know who we are until three or four weeks, maybe five weeks,” Swinney said. “I don't know where we are with certain guys and hopefully we are going to have a lot of competition these next few weeks.”

On who surprised him Saturday

David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS So. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 315
Columbus, GA

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would be one. He won the job. He won the right to start based on three scrimmages. But he hadn't really played. Certainly hadn't played with the game on the line and he played great. He was physical. He had guys on the ground. He was as good on play 92 as he was early. Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
Wilmington, DE

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was. To see him take the next step is very encouraging. Charone PeakeCharone Peake
So. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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had a good night. Had some nice plays. Huge play to setup that fourth and one for us. Good to see Cole StoudtCole Stoudt
So. Quarterback
#8 6-5, 205
Dublin, OH

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as cold as ice go in there and execute. Spencer BentonSpencer Benton
RS Sr. Punter / Kicker
#13 6-1, 195
Myrtle Beach, SC

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would be another one. He hadn't been the starting punter and did an excellent job with kickoffs. A lot of guys like that. Hopefully we'll continue to see that. “

On one play that epitomized Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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’s growth

“One? That third down late in the game when he got the first. He didn't do that last year. He took sacks or he flushed laterally as opposed to stepping up in the rush lane and sensing the pressure. We probably had 10 completions that weren't pass plays. They were run calls that had built in options that he made really good decisions. The touchdown pass to Nuk was a run call all the way. But he had the ability to take that if he wanted it and he did. He did a really good job. “

On if he plans to play more of the younger OL players this week

“We are just young. Kalon [Davis] is the only guy who probably could have gotten in there a little bit more. Going in that was our plan but we got in such a rhythm and we didn't want to mess it up. Beasley was playing well and responding well. We want to give Shaq AnthonyShaq Anthony
RS Fr. Offensive Tackle
#76 6-4, 265
Williamston, SC

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the opportunity. Very talented young player. And Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 270
Mauldin, SC

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- another guy who is a really good young player. Kalon is another one. [Isaiah] Battle is still not a player we can trust yet but we have to be able to bring him along. He's as talented as anybody we have. But that's where we are. We are a young group.”

On any communication issues defensively

“No, I think we communicated pretty well. We missed some line ups. They weren't a fast tempo team and that's what makes this game this weekend so difficult. They will do a lot of checking and a mixture of things we'll see from these guys. This is a big week for our scout team to rapid fire at us. The good thing for our defense is they just spent a month practicing for our offense. So that's how they practice and it won't be a shocker to them."

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