Highlights from Dabo Swinney weekly press conference

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CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers travel down I-85 to Atlanta this weekend to take on Georgia Tech in an 8 p.m. game televised to half the nation on ABC.

The Tigers and Jackets have played some close and interesting contests of the years, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said during this Tuesday press conference at the WestZone that he expects more of the same this year.

“They don’t make it easier on us with an 8:12 kickoff this weekend,” Swinney said. “We look forward to it, and it’s another big challenge for us. Everyone knows Clemson-Georgia Tech. It's a rivalry game. Especially tough on the road and we know to expect with Georgia Tech and they know what to expect with us. We have to continue to execute at a high level. Their offense - everybody is pretty familiar with at this point because we've seen them quite a bit.

“They lead the nation in third down. They are usually one of the top rushing teams and they are again. The big thing with Georgia Tech this year is they throw the ball a little bit more. The big plays are a concern in going against their offense. They've had eight one-play touchdown drives. They've had four pass plays of 70 yards or more. Fourteen of their touchdowns are 20 yards or more. Ten are of 50 yards or more. If the big play is part of their day then it's not a good day for you.”

Swinney said it comes down to execution and discipline.

“We have to do a good job with our discipline,” he said. “You have to play right with your eyes and just do your job. They have good players all across the board. Orwin Smith is averaging 12-something yards a carry. They have a bunch of guys with a lot of high averages per carry. It's a big challenge there. But it comes down to winning at the line of scrimmage. We have to tackle and make sure we get these guys off the field on third down.”

He said his team also can’t overlook the Jackets’ improved defense.

“Their defense - coach [Al] Groh has done a great job,” he said. “In ACC games they are leading the league in total defense. They are very stout. They don't give up a lot of big plays and you have to earn what you get. They've improved a lot since last year. For us, it's about having a great week of preparation. Today and tomorrow are critical days from a scout team preparation standpoint. We have to have really good looks. And then we have to execute our game plan to win. We've played with great effort each week. We've done a great job in creating turnovers. We are plus-9 now. We've out big-played the opponent.”

On Tech being stripped of the 2009 ACC Championship

“They beat us. The thing I don't understand is if that win doesn't count for them, why does the loss count for us. That's really none of my business. They run a good program down there. I know coach Johnson tries to do things the right way.”

On having Chad Morris on the field and not in the press box
“It's been great. He's got good energy. I like being able to go and talk to him face to face. I think it's great especially when you have a young quarterback. He can get with him and calm him down or talk about the next series. Coach Pearman has done a great job for us up in the box. That's been a really good game day environment for us.”

On if playing Wofford earlier in the year helps

“A little bit. They run the triple option, probably 20-to-25 plays. Wofford does a lot of stuff. They are all over the map with what they do offensively. You get a little bit of exposure to it.”

On doing something different this week because of Tech

“Just forget everything we taught you all year. It has nothing to do with our normal defense. It's a game in the season that’s totally different. We always take a couple of days during spring ball and fall camp to work on these guys. And we do that for all of our opponents. Our installation offensively and defensively tries to reflect what we are going to see. We try to expose our players to things during camp to what they are going to see. Georgia Tech even more so. You don't have your normal calls defensively. It's not the same. It's totally different. It's assignment football and it's a game plan for the opponent. When the game is over, you put it on the shelf for next year.”

On learning something from Miami, who shut down Tech last week

“The biggest thing is what they did at the line of scrimmage. And there's carry over. That's football. You have to do the football things it takes to win. We have to do a good job up front. You have to win at the line of scrimmage.”

On expectations of Clemson’s offense

“We expect a high level of execution. Every play is designed to score. We expect a high level of execution. We had some moments Saturday where our tempo was tremendous. That's one of the reasons we are such a good second half team. We wear down people the second half of the game.”

On the national exposure winning brings

“It's great for Clemson. I love being 8-0. Heck yeah. I'd rather be 8-0 than 4-4. It's great for our program and the Clemson brand. You turn on the TV and you've got the paw sitting there. But that doesn't have anything to do with beating Georgia Tech. I know there's a lot of talk. We've got a division championship, a state championship and an ACC championship. We have all of that before we can even talk about the BCS. Our guys understand that. We have four more battles on our regular season schedule.”

On health of Andre Ellington

“He will be limited today hopefully by tomorrow get rolling a little bit. He wasn’t able to do anything yesterday. It really swelled up on him. Right now, it’s day to day and we will see how he is by game time. That is one good thing about playing so late, we have a lot of time to get him ready.”

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