Highlights from Dabo Swinney's Tuesday press conference

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Dabo Swinney Press Conference Audio (WMA format)

CLEMSON – Highlights from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s Tuesday press conference.

On the Maryland Terrapins:

SWINNEY: Offensively, they are very balanced. A lot of formations. Torrey Smith is an outstanding player in this conference. Da'Rel Scott is the same way. And [Davin] Meggett- big player that is tough to tackle. The biggest challenge for us defensively is their quarterback situation. [Jamarr] Robinson is back, and he's the guy they like to run the zone-read with. We've had to spend a lot of time preparing for two different guys. O'Brien is a good player, and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

But we feel like they are trying to run the quarterback with Robinson. For us defensively we just have to be physical and stop the run. We also have to do a better job in the red zone and force field goals. We also have to be more opportunistic on defense. We either have to score or setup our offense to score.

From a schematic standpoint, they do a good job defensively. They bring a lot of pressure- perhaps more than anybody we've faced thus far. They do a lot of different things with their fronts. They move all over the place. They do a great job of mixing their packages together. They bring safeties and corners. Their defensive line is playing good for them. Their guy is second in the league in sacks behind Da'Quan Bowers. All their linebackers are back. No. 33 [Alex Wujciak] is back, and he's a heck of a football player. He's either making the tackle or sniffing it every play. He's all over the field. He's first or second in the league in tackles. Their two outside linebackers are athletic and run well. They have two safeties that look like linebackers. The other challenge is special teams- they lead the nation in punt returns.

The biggest thing for us is finding a way to win and making sure guys continue to believe in each other and that we have great leadership. That's one thing we've done a lot of us in the last few days. That's one of the things that's encouraging to me is this determined spirit. They are anxious to get started and that's something I was glad to see. Same thing on the practice field. Just trying to find a way to win a game this week and we'll go from there.

Question: Who are your leaders on this team?

SWINNEY: I think we've got several guys. Several senior guys , and a lot of juniors and third year sophomores that are highly invested in this team. Gilchrist, Jenkins, Chavis, DeAndre McDaniel, Kyle Parker, and Mike Wade. Andre Branch and Da'Quan Bowers. There have been a lot of guys who have stood up and challenged our group. The reality of it is - we have three tough losses. Three gut wrenching losses. Go down to Auburn, had a chance to win. Auburn is a good football team and is going to be one of the best in the country. Miami is going to be an eight or nine win team this year and a solid bowl team. North Carolina is a good football team. That's an eight or nine win team and a good bowl team. We've lost to three good teams - two of them on the road. It's frustrating because I know the talent on our team. I know the character of our team and I really want them to taste success. It's not about me- it's about the players. Same thing for our fans.

We've gotten no breaks. None. Absolutely zero. I thought the third quarter the other night we took the game over. But then we only have it a minute and 45 seconds. Some very frustrating things right now. I ask God why. I ask what do you want me to learn. I try to take the knowledge and do the best I can. I know we are on the right track. Our players know we are on the right track. We are doing a ton of good things. We just have to keep at it. Stay the course. But one thing that is very encouraging is this football team has been in position to win every week. When we win we'll move on from there.

Q: How much say-so do the running backs have in who is playing when?

SWINNEY: They don't have any say-so. Coaches make all the decisions on personnel. Players don't make those decisions.

Q: How many touches would you like to see Andre Ellington get on Saturday?

SWINNEY: Again, had we had the ball in the fourth quarter. Ellington needs to touch the ball more. He's earned that. He's got to get the ball more. I don't get amnesia like that like a lot of people do. Jamie Harper is going to help us. He's going to help us win. What the number is [for Ellington]. We've got to make sure he impacts the game. Right now Ellington is the most explosive guy we have and has earned that opportunity.

Q: Do you regret not starting those young receivers earlier?

SWINNEY: You've got guys playing well in practice competing. You have to let them go battle and it works itself out. Nothing is final. You don't want to throw anybody away. We have good players. We are going to need all of our guys at the receiver position to step up this season. Jaron and Bryce and Nuke Hopkins give us the best chance to win. Every decision you make- a thousand people like it and a thousand people hate it. That's just how it is. I'll give you an example, Richard Jackson is going to be a captain this week and he's not even starting. [Chandler] Catanzaro has to be productive and has to perform at a high level otherwise you give the other guy another opportunity. Richard has been extremely supportive. He's not giving up. He's speaking up in senior meetings. So I really have been proud how Richard Jackson has responded. He's preparing for his next opportunity, even if he doesn't get it. That's what you do in life. You don't sit around and cry about what's happening. You go to work. That's what I've seen of Richard.

What about DeAndre Hopkins?

SWINNEY: He is extremely competitive. He's not a me guy. He's not a media guy. He was like that in the recruiting process. He's about winning. I want as many DeAndre Hopkins as I can get. If we can get those kind of guys we are going to be winners. He's just a true freshman but is big time talented. He looks like a freshman at times ... you have to kind of close your eyes when you watch the film. Same thing with Bryce. Same thing with Jaron. Those are three dynamic guys that will improve tremendously over the course of the year.

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