Inside the Interviews: Clemson and VT players and coaches on Clemson's win


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Kelly Bryant runs for yardage against the Hokies
Kelly Bryant runs for yardage against the Hokies

BLACKSBURG , VA – Second-ranked Clemson waltzed into Lane Stadium Saturday night and defeated No. 12 Virginia Tech 31-17.

The Tigers continued their defensive dominance by forcing three turnovers, and Clemson junior quarterback Kelly Bryant paced the offense with 186 yards and one touchdown through the air and 94 rushing yards.

Clemson improved to 5-0, while Virginia Tech fell to 4-1 in a rematch of last season's ACC Championship Game.

Here are quotes from both postgame locker rooms:

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney

Opening Statement

“First of all, I just want to congratulate Justin (Fuente) and his team. They have a heck of a football team. Tonight didn’t go the way they wanted it to, but I have a lot of respect for the way they do things. We played really well in all three phases. It was a complete effort by our team. It was key that we won the turnover margin. Defensively, the effort was tremendous. The story of the game was turnovers and that we controlled the line of scrimmage. Our defense takes a lot of pride in playing for each other.”

On stopping Virginia Tech’s momentum with interception return for TD

“That was right after the punt play. We had a bad tackle for loss, had to punt it away, and they got the ball after that touchdown. That was a huge play. They’re looking for anything to erupt and that settled everything down a little bit.”

On how this defense compares to last year

“Oh man, we have a long way to go. That defense last year played 15 games. Five games don’t make a season unless they cancel October and November and give us a bye. So far, they’ve done a great job. They’ve answered every test. They show up and take pride in their preparation. They all really care about getting the job done and we have great leadership.”

On how the team embraces the spotlight

“We don’t make it about that stuff. It shouldn’t have anything to do with how we play. If you’re a good player, you’re a good player anywhere. Those things shouldn’t matter. We focus on the thing we can control and that’s our preparation. We focus on getting ready and preparing. We don’t get distracted. They really believe in themselves. You have to win in your mind before you can win anywhere else and our guys have the right mindset.”

On Fuente’s potential

“My first year we went to the ACC Championship and got beat in a heartbreaker. We all know I almost hired Justin. He’s a heck of a coach and a good guy. He’s good for the business and someone you want coaching. He’s very fortunate to have a guy like (Frank) Beamer. He represents everything great about this business. Justin is going to do a hell of a job. They’re off to a great start. We might end up seeing them again in the championship. They aren’t a team that is going to go away. They’re going to be a handful for every team they play.”

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente

Opening statement

“I want to commend the Hokie Nation. I’m sorry. I wish we could have played better. We played a really good opponent today that highlighted some mistakes really quickly. I thought the show that the Hokie Nation put on was absolutely fantastic. The festivities earlier today and the crowd, it was everything you could ever want and more. Sorry that we couldn’t find a way to get it done. Clemson is a fine football team. Coach Swinney has done a great job there. I don’t see any weaknesses right now coming off the field from playing them. I do love the way our guys battled. I thought we were competitive, I thought our guys were competitive. It wasn’t always pretty but the guys out there in maroon and orange were competing their tails off but we weren’t good enough today. Our challenge is next week.”

How much did their defensive front force you to use screens and draws and how did you try to counteract that?

“They played us different than they’ve played before. They’re usually an attacking defense and they did not do that today. They played more 50 defense, used more techniques than they’ve ever shown, dropping more guys. Yeah we knew that we had to get the ball out quick, use some misdirection that kind of stuff. We knew it was going to be difficult no matter what they did. Part of the plan was getting the ball out of Josh’s hands quickly.”

Does facing the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country provide a barometer for this team and do you like having the chance to play a team like that early in the season?

“Well, I hadn’t really thought about where it fell in the season too much. I like playing good people, I can tell you that much and I thought we played a pretty good opponent right out of the box. We’ll see. The season will tell how good everybody is. Each week is kind of its own individual entity, but I enjoy playing the best and our guys do too. I didn’t feel nervous or anxious to play I thought we were ready to compete.”

Do you look back to those miscues in the third quarter and kick yourself?

“There’s a lot of things I kick myself about. We get a stop and then we fumble. We had great field position then we fumble on the second play if I’m not mistaken. Great field position, crowds into it, that’s a really tough pill to swallow right there. Kind of forced our hand right there to start going for it. I just didn’t think kicking long field goals was going to win us the game to be honest with you.”

Did you think there was a feeling out process against that defense?

“I don’t know, I think they did some things differently. They made a concerted effort to keep the ball in front of them. I felt like they were going to play a different style of defense than they had.”

On the play of Clemson’s quarterback, Kelly Bryant

“We had him defended well a couple of times, and he did make a couple of plays. We had, on that one drive after the turnover, we’re in a certain coverage where we needed our safety to be in what we call a cheated post, and he didn’t line up over there. We had it where we could fit and keep him in a phone booth. We had him a couple of times, and he got out and made a couple of moves. Then down on the goal line, we had him sacked, and couldn’t get him on the ground. He was the difference in the football game when it’s all said and done. Made a couple of nice throws and a couple of nice runs. It was an impressive game. I was impressed by his athletic ability all the way around.”

Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips

On if it took a little while to figure out Clemson’s defense

“I think you’ve got to give credit to those guys. They did a good job of mixing up looks with throwing a lot of different stuff at us coverage wise. Against those guys, you’ve got to get a drive started and we couldn’t do that, which leaves our defense on the field longer. But overall we need to execute better.”

Virginia Tech Josh Jackson

On if there was a feeling out process against Clemson’s defense early on

“They definitely played us a lot different than they showed on film. We couldn’t finish drives and get points.”

Virginia Tech DT Tim Settle

On Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant’s ability to avoid sacks

“He’s just a bigger guy, athletic. He’s tough to tackle with being very athletic. We practiced that.”

On how deflating was the sequence where Tech fumbled and Clemson scored on its next drive

“Coach [Bud] Foster just said to play the next play. We have to be able to go through adversity. Everything won’t go our way, so if something that happens we need to go through adversity. I felt like it was good for us, we practice that stuff but it didn’t really affect us too much.”

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