Highlights from Dabo Swinney's Tuesday press conference

by - Senior Writer -

Dabo Swinney Press Conference audio (WMA Format)

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his first Tuesday press conference of the season with the media in the team room at the West Zone, and he said that while he thinks his Tigers have a chance to be a good football team, the true character of a team is unknown until game day.

“It's finally game week,” Swinney said. “I’m excited about that. It's time to start assessing what kind of work we've gotten done since last January. Game week is kind of like Christmas for me. Anxious to see our team play. That's probably the biggest thing from a coaching standpoint. You work. You work. You plant a lot of seeds in the offseason and you try to keep on getting better.

“I'm excited to see this team play. I like this football team and I think they've had an excellent camp. It's been a very good group to communicate with a on a daily basis. I think we are pretty healthy right now and that's always a great thing leading into the start of the season. We did a good job as a staff getting them some rest. They seemed really refreshed after practice and we'll have our normal tough Tuesday practice tonight. But our first goal is to win the opener and we've got that opportunity Saturday at 3:35.”

With the identity of last year’s team so closely tied to players like C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Michael Palmer, Swinney was asked if he had a feel for what the identity of this team might be.

“Last year's team was three or four guys that was the heart and soul of the team offensively - Jacoby, C.J., Michael Palmer - those were probably the three main forces,” Swinney said. “This year, we’ll be a much more balanced team as far as production. You may see one guy - Jamie Harper or Andre Ellington both rush for over 100 yards or one guy goes for a lot. Same things at wide receivers. You are going to see some guys this year have career games. It's not going to take much for that to happen because most of them are young guys. Dye and Ashe have had some moments from time to time. It's a more evenly distributed offense. I don't know we have a guy that is as explosive as C.J. Spiller but not many people do. “

“The departure of Ford and Palmer leaves a hole in the receiving corps, but Swinney said it seems like every year that the Tigers have had to replace a good receiver, and someone has always stepped into the breach.

“I just base things on what I see in practice. It's really never been any different since I got here,” he said. “The first year we had huge numbers at wide out with Derrick Hamilton and Kevin Youngblood and everybody was saying Airese Currie couldn't be the guy. Then he led the league in catching. Then we had a guy named [Curtis] Baham after him then Stuckey. He was back to back All-Conference. Then when Stuckey left, well, we surely don't have anybody now. Then we had this guy named Kelly and Grisham. Then they left. Then Jacoby couldn't be the No. 1 guy. Seven years we've had a wide out make first or second-team All-Conference.

“All those players- they listen to what you say. All I can tell you is that we've got good players. They are young, and they will make mistakes but I think we have really good talent. It's been kind of fun to be honest with you because it's been extremely competitive. The guy I hope is ready to seize the moment is Marquan [Jones]. He and Brandon Clear have had two good camps. Hopefully we'll see that on game day. But I don't think we have anybody right now that has separated above the other. At practice they've all been consistent. I think Jaron Brown has a chance to be special. Same thing with Bryce McNeal. Also Nuke Hopkins. They practice hard and they are tough. Now they got to go do it.”

Other notes:

“On whether the team has taken on his personality:

“I just want our team to be tough, hard-nosed and do things with class. I hope that they have a personality as a team that plays with passion and playing hard. A team that gives great effort. When people watch this team, I hope they say, 'gosh they play hard.”

On Chandler Catanzaro winning the placekicking job:

“He's 80-something percent. It's what he made in camp. He's kicked from everywhere. We've tried everything- different holders, different snappers, different groups. Everybody has had equal opportunities and he flat out won the job and it wasn't even close. Here's a young guy who is not played yet. I'm sure he'll be pretty nervous for the first time when he runs out there and kicks it through the uprights. Extremely focused young man. He's about his job all the time and he's dialed in every time I see him. I'm glad he took advantage of his redshirt year. Gotten stronger. He's been extremely consistent. If he's anywhere close to what he's done in practice, he'll lead the country. I expect him to get off to a good start. “

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