Quotable: Clemson and FSU players and coaches speak out

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B.J. Goodson had two of the game's biggest plays
B.J. Goodson had two of the game's biggest plays

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher and Clemson and FSU players talk about the Tigers 23-13 ACC Atlantic division clinching victory over the ‘Noles Saturday night.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney

Opening thoughts

“Our crowd was amazing. They really hung in there with us. Florida State got a touchdown in the first minute of the game, but the crowd stayed with it and for the next 59 minutes, they didn’t score a touchdown. I appreciate our fans.

“That’s what a championship game is about. Florida State is a great champion. They’ve had an amazing run because they’re very talented. We were bad in the first half. I’ve been saving that fake punt for two years and we lined up wrong. Sometimes it’s not easy, but we overcame.

“I told our guys at halftime that we just had to ‘be who we are’. Deshaun (Watson) missed some easy ones, some layups. We had to calm down. Our guys showed poise at the half and came out confident in the second half. This was an awesome game to be a part of.

“Our guys never quit. The defense forced two turnovers and really a third one on the fourth-down stop. That was a championship play. Those conversions, for us to make those big plays and finish the game on offense, that was huge. We finally got the big run for a touchdown, and there were some huge passing plays. They were trying to press us at the end, so the screens came in big. I’m really proud of our guys.

“We had two 100-yard rushers and one 100-yard receiver, and our offensive line was great. We definitely got stronger as the game went on. Our guys had a will to win and showed a fight in the fourth quarter. Our offense played hard, and that’s what it’s about.

“(Greg) Huegel is 13-13 in ACC play, which is awesome. (Ben) Boulware was a huge part of fourth-and-one stop, and I couldn’t be more pleased. (B.J.) Goodson and (Shaq) Lawson. They have both been huge in the last two weeks. (Florida State running back Dalvin) Cook had 150 yards in the first half, but just 44 in second. I’m very pleased with our second-half performance. It was a team effort.

“We set out to win the division, and we accomplished that goal today. They have to print 14 tickets now, but we still have business to handle. We’ll be back on Monday and will head to the biggest game of the year on Saturday at Syracuse.

“Hats off to Florida State. I appreciate our fans giving us an unbelievable atmosphere. I’ve told our guys that this year is ‘bring your own guts and bring your own heart,’ and we did that.”

On the adversity they faced during the game:

“We had help from all phases tonight. When we had mistakes, we picked each other up. There was no panic. There was some frustration in the first half, but the will to win and the fight was there. Our team loves each other, and that’s what it takes. You have to play with that.

“Our staff has unbelievable chemistry and trust. Everybody made huge contributions tonight. It was a tremendous team effort from everyone. That’s what it takes if you’re going to win a championship.”

Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher

Overall thoughts:

“I am very proud of our players. I thought they put their heart and souls on the line and played extremely hard. I thought we competed. We came here with great intentions to win the game but we just came up a little short. We had plenty of opportunities.

“You have to go through some tough moments sometimes to get to where you want to go. We have some young guys on this team that play very hard, and sometimes you need to go through these growing pains. We want to be relevant in November and we were in a position to do that. We still want to finish strong.

“But there’s some hurt in that locker room. That’s what happens when you play great teams. My hat goes off to Dabo (Swinney). Those guys did a great job and have a great football team. They’re having a great year and I’m happy for those guys. Hopefully, they can continue and carry the banner for the ACC.

“Our defense played outstanding. Offensively, we played well early but then we missed some third downs and some red-zone situations. I think our guys wanted it too bad. You have to learn to play the next play. They didn’t quit or have bad intentions, they just needed to keep their poise.”

On starting quarterback Sean Maguire’s performance:

“He played well. He commanded our team and did a great job of managing the football game. He had a chance to hit a couple deep balls, but we knew we wanted to get down there. The way Sean practiced all week, I felt very comfortable with him.”

On his team’s mindset for the rest of the season:

“We need to go at it. We’re going to find out who we are and about our character. You get 12 of these a year. You only get 48 in your career. You better cherish them and play them. We need to finish out this season strong and go to a great bowl game. We need to set our foundation for next year in how we play and the things we do. This is all a part of our future.”

On going for it on fourth-and-one with 6:17 left in the fourth quarter:

“We had to go for it. I felt very comfortable. We had a good play, but we just came up an inch short. We came here to win the game. We had it right there. We have one of the best running backs in America, so we gave it to him. I’d do it again.”

On the state of Florida State’s program:

“I think this is just the beginning. What I saw in the eyes of the players in the locker room has me extremely excited for what we’re going to do in the future. We have guys that want to win, know how to win and have talent. Our guys will grow from this and mature. It’s been a heck of a run, and now it’s time to start another one.”

On what he said to his players in the locker room:

“I’m extremely proud of them. We asked them to put their hearts and souls on the line and come off of that field extremely exhausted, and they did. Sometimes, once you feel that hurt deep down, then you’ll never want to feel it again.”

On the play of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson:

“He’s a great player. He battled. He’s a competitor and a very good player.”

On what he said to Dabo Swinney after the game:

“I said congratulations. They have a heck of a team and I hope they go win it all and represent our conference. Clemson is a really good football team, and anytime you have a quarterback like that, you have a chance.”

Clemson Tight End Jordan Leggett

On the win tonight as the No. 1 ranked team:

“We are still rolling, it is these big games that give us all the momentum we need going forward. I’m just really proud of the way we overcame adversity in the first half and came out swinging in the second half. The defense did a great job holding them to 13 points, and we were able to put up points when we needed to.”

On being the guy that jump-started the offense:

“It definitely felt good, Coach Swinney always talks about whenever your number is called you have to step up, so I was ready to play 60 plays if that is what it took. When my number was called I was ready to make a play.”

On Deshaun Watson’s performance:

“I have never seen him down, but I did see a little frustration on his face but after we got in at halftime. In the second half it was good to see his motivation rise, and we were able to go out and get the win.”

Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson

On defeating Florida State:

“We accomplished one of the five goals for the season, first was win the opener and then win the (Atlantic) division, and that is what we did.”

On if the win over Florida State validates the No. 1 ranking:

“It is always good to get a win. Florida State is a good team, they have won the division three years in a row and a national title, they have great coaching and we knew they were going to give us a great game that we would have to work for.”

On Deon Cain’s touchdown jump-starting the offense:

“In the first half we were just over-thinking the game; we were just a couple of plays away from breaking one like we did with Deon. Each play, there were a couple of mental mistakes and in the second half we corrected those and hit the play to Deon. That got the crowd back in it, the defense into it and offense and special teams. It was a big play.”

Clemson Linebacker B.J. Goodson

Thoughts on how the game panned out:

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Florida State went out and fought really hard. That’s what we were looking forward to. They weren’t going to come in, lie down, and give us that division title. It was a hard-fought, great experience and I’m blessed to have had a part in it.”

On the recovered fumble and celebration afterward:

“I kind of had that feeling all game, glory to the Lord! I knew (it was probably over at that point). I just knew he was going to give it to us, and we were going to go out there and get it. Even when we were down in the game, I never got discouraged.”

On the 4th-and-1 stop the previous series:

“We’re built for that. We’re built for situations like that. That’s what we work hard for. I tip my hat to offenses that try and do us like that, on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, by running the ball. We’re built for that.”

Clemson Linebacker Ben Boulware

On the satisfaction of the win:

“In the first quarter, we were just giving up stupid plays. When we were doing our assignments, they couldn’t do anything on us. We just kept making mental errors and not sticking to our gaps. Once again, the offense and special teams complemented us by bailing us out a couple times. But it definitely was a good feeling to solidify the win on our side of the ball and make up for those costly mistakes in the beginning of the game.”

On Dalvin Cook’s long touchdown and what was said afterward:

“We just encouraged each other. We knew if we were doing our assignments they couldn’t do anything on us, but it so happened that on that run we misplayed a gap. The one thing about our defense is that we are very mature. A lot of people think we don’t have a veteran bunch, but how we handle things like that on that sideline. It speaks volumes of this group. We are constantly picking each other up, for all the right reasons.”

Florida State linebacker Reggie Northrup

“We were just trying to be aggressive. We knew they weren't as tough as us. It was just toughness and effort, but they found a way. We got worn down, but you have to be ready for it”

Florida State safety Lamarcus Brutus

“We weren't going to just give it to them. They were going to earn it. We felt like we were one of the top contenders in the country, but we fell to the number one team in the country, so there's no shame in that.”

On the play of Deshaun Watson:

“You have to play your lanes. We were doing our job most of the game. He is on scholarship just like we are on scholarship, so we expected him to make plays and he did.”

On Watson’s spike at the end of the first half:

“That was their mistake and not ours. We capitalized on that mistake.”

Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire

“I think we missed too many opportunities, but I was still proud of the way this team played. The O-line fought - that is a heck of a defensive line and a defense but we played hard. Coach Fisher preaches to leave everything on the field and that's what we did tonight. I thought this team fought to the end, that's for sure.”

On the third down struggles:

“Third downs are tough. We knew they would drop eight or blitz the house or play man. We just had too many missed opportunities.”

Running back Dalvin Cook

“I came into the game feeling good and ready to go. I was feeling good enough to be out there.”

On the touchdown run:

“Coach Fisher called the play. We had worked on it all week in practice, and there was just one man to beat.”

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