Dabo talks about adding JUCO players, previews Virginia Tech

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – There are several college programs who successfully sign Junior College players in order to fill gaps left by attrition – Kansas St. comes to mind – and Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said Tuesday during his press conference that it’s his hope Clemson will one day be able to do the same.

Swinney said that the issue he hopes he can work out with the new athletic director.

“I agree 1000 percent. It's an issue. There are certain schools like K-State and Texas Tech that have signed some war-daddy JUCO guys and improved quickly,” Swinney said. “I'm more of a "build through the draft" kind of guy - that's my background. But there is an occasion - we did it at Alabama where we brought in John Copeland and he ended up the fourth pick in the draft.

“Alabama with Terrence Cody. Florida State. Auburn brought in Cam Newton. Tennessee brought in the Patterson kid. It's not that Clemson says "no" you can't come. It's transferring hours to count towards a degree. Guys would be ineligible here where they are eligible somewhere else. Now, we do have some new curriculums coming on board in 2013 that I'm exciting about that will hopefully help us there.”

In the meantime, Swinney and the Tigers will host Virginia Tech this weekend in a noon game in Death Valley, and Swinney said he expected the Tigers to get the Hokies’ best shot.

“We are excited about being back at home. Big challenge with Virginia Tech and they are coming off a very good game against Duke and you saw what Virginia Tech is really made of,” he said. “They got down 20-0 on homecoming and probably played their best game of the year after that. They made plays and played with a lot of confidence. This is a team in my opinion that has been the bell cow of this league the last several years. It's been a measuring stick.

“They’ve been very consistent. It's been incredibly consistent. Frank Beamer is 27-6 on the road in this conference. That is incredible. It's hard to win on the road. So these guys have been incredibly consistent and they've done a pretty good job when they come to Death Valley. They are very much in it from a conference standpoint. Not a whole lot of room for error for either team. It's going to take our very best to win.”

He said it looks like the Hokies are beginning to hit their stride offensively, and bring more pressure defensively than they have in the past.

“Offensively, they average 31 points per game. Their quarterback, we are familiar with him. He's athletic and his arm is strong. He throws the ball all the way across the field against Duke for a touchdown - he's strong. They are balanced. They want to run the football. They are balanced. It all starts with the quarterback. They are young up front. They have settled in with the group they have. They have lost their starting center but have moved their guard over. No. 7 (Marcus Davis) is a giant who can fly. Complete group over there that is playing pretty good. For us, we have to stop the run and that's where it starts. That's critical.

“Defensively, they've got their whole front back with their defensive line. It's a thick group inside. These guys are hard to move. Their ends are athletic. Fuller, Exum - they are all really talented in the back end. They are bringing way more pressure than they have in the past. They have been primarily known as a robber coverage team but they are bringing more pressure and using more man-to-man. We have to have success in those matchups.”

Swinney said that wide receiver Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
So. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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[shoulder], tight end Brandon FordBrandon Ford
Gr. Tight End
#80 6-4, 240
Wando, SC

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[ankle] and running back D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 195
Lincoln, AL

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[shoulder] should all be available to play this weekend, and that the open date came at the right time.

“It's been good. The open date last year we had after eight or nine games,” he said. “To be able to get it right where we had it was almost perfect. It's pretty good. We went through a couple of weeks of very strenuous practice. We had a good week of practice last week working on fundamentals. Last night at practice you could see energy. They were excited to get back to work. They had a bounce to their step that we hadn't seen. It came at a good time. That doesn't have anything to do with how we play Saturday but we are fresher.”

Dabo when reporter asked if Tigers were using Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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as a decoy

“You guys crack me up. I promise you - we aren't doing anything differently with Sammy than we've ever done. He's played two and a half games and the rest of the team has played six. He's fine. We literally aren't doing anything different. We don't force thing. The ball is going to go where it's dictated to go on defense. If people want to roll to Sammy- that's fine- that's their choice. We got other people who could make plays. We try to move him around and make plays. We have at least six more games to play and barring any conspiracy or injury he's going to be great. He's a great player. Sure practices good.”

On the younger players on the defense

“You'll continue to see [Travis] Blanks and his role like it's been. We have been cross-training him. Hopefully Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
RS So. Defensive End
#6 6-4, 275
Jacksonville, FL

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is coming on. I thought he played well against Georgia Tech in particular. D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-3, 335
Greensboro, NC

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has been better. We are really pleased with our d-tackles. Those first four guys have been ‘flip a coin’ with who practices best this week and runs out there first. That's going to be a really special group. The guy I hope to see more of in the second half is Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 300
Forest City, NC

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. I think you'll see Tony StewardTony Steward
So. Linebacker
#7 6-1, 235
Hastings, FL

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a little bit more the second half of the season. It looks like he's got his confidence back. Tig Willard had a good first half. You'll see more of Garry Peters. We like what he's done. Also with Darius RobinsonDarius Robinson
Jr. Cornerback
#21 5-10, 175
College Park, GA

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- I like how he's practicing right now.”

On whether the team will practice more on special teams this week

“We put attention on special teams every week. I don't know how we could meet more or practice more because it's every single day. We haven't been perfect. The kick return against us was probably the play of the game in Tallahassee. But we did it up in Boston and we did it against Georgia Tech. Our guys take pride in special teams and will continue to.”

On how he knows the team will finish better than last season

“Hopefully, I can base it on what I've seen out of them. They've shown good leadership. They practice hard. You can coach them. They want to win. They want to be good. And they've responded in every situation. They've responded in the opening night win which was a big win, I know Auburn hasn't had a good season but that was a big win in that kind of environment. Then losing in Tallahassee and going up to Boston and taking care of business. They've responded. Whether it's not playing good in the first half and playing good in the second half. They've responded. That's encouraging to me. We'll find out. We have a lot of opportunity- conference-wise, nationally. There's a lot to play for.”

On being concerned with Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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’s turnovers

“Not really. Because he's responded going back to last year when in those situations he was in a little bit of a funk and he wouldn't get out of it, it would just get worse. He knows that. It's been a good time to re-evaluate to get back to what we do and he's been great.”

On being No. 19 in the BCS

“We've played six games. All we have to do is take care of business. We take care of business and we have a chance to have a special season. They come up with this stuff this time of year and it's laughable. It's irrelavent. It's all about what you do each Saturday. If we win, we are in great shape. If we don't, we won't be. We control our own destiny, yes. Do things have to happen for us to get back, nationally? Yes. But there's a lot of play for. The bottom line is if you take care of business, that thing changes drastically. We have to control what we can control and that's play the best we can against Virginia Tech. And it shouldn't matter for anybody. December is when it matters.”

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