Quotable: Players, coaches talk Clemson's win over Louisville


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Watson was 21-30 for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Watson was 21-30 for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns.

LOUISVILLE, KY - Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino and players from both teams talk about Clemson's 20-17 win over the Cardinals Thursday night.

Head Coach Dabo Swinney

(Opening statement)
“First of all, let me give Louisville a lot of credit. I know that they have had three very difficult losses. That is a tough situation to be in. They had chances to win all three of those games. They have a good football team. They've got good players. Obviously they have good coaches. We are very fortunate to get out of here with a win. Their guys fought hard. They never gave up until the very end. They gave themselves a chance to win the game, so give them credit. It was a hard fought game and at the end of the day I am so proud of our football team. Coming into this game everyone kept asking, what do you know about this team? We have competed. We have shown up but we haven't faced adversity. And when you go on the road you find out what kind of mental toughness you have. We have had enough adversity in this game for the whole year. We have had about everything you can think of thrown at us. It really made it a lot harder than it needed to be. We had a chance to put the game away and we missed a big, big play. We had the perfect call and just came up a little short.

"And then we gave up the kick return, which is very disappointing. We gotta get that fixed. That's how teams can get back in the game. We just weren't quite able to put them away, so give them credit. They fought hard all the way and made enough plays. I'm just proud of our guys in the fourth quarter. I think now we are 40-0 when going into the fourth quarter with a lead. That's something we talk about as a team. That's something we take pride in. And that's a credit to their mental toughness. It is a credit to our offseason, how we train, how we get ready. That's what I'm really proud of. At the end of the day we got a lot we can take and learn from this game. We didn't win the division tonight but our goal was to be 3-0 and that's where we are at now. I am proud how we were able to dominate the line of scrimmage. They had 19 yards rushing. We had 202 yards rushing. That's dominating the line of scrimmage. That's where the game was won. I think we took it on both sides.”

(When you have a lot of momentum plays in the fourth what kind of resolve does that show?)
“That's what I was just telling the team. I think we answered a lot of questions tonight. We had mental toughness. Tonight was a ton of adversity. Some of it was self-inflicted and some of it was Louisville making plays. At the end of the day it's about finding a way to win and that's what we did. They had us and took the lead and our offense answered the call. We get the big field goal to tie it up, we get a stop then, go out there and score another touchdown. Then we go up 10 and we're thinking we're about to put this thing away and we let them back in with a kick return. Overall I was proud of our team and love all those guys. I appreciate how they competed, it's never perfect but all you need is one more point than they do and that's all that matters.”

(What did you say to the team after the game)
“I'm proud of them. It was a team contribution. We had mistakes in all phases. We had big mistakes on offense, defense and special teams. I just told them I love them and I appreciate them for competing. It was about the heart and mental toughness they displayed. That's what Clemson football is about, however long it takes to finish. That's what we talk about and take pride in. Our team brought it tonight, they found a way to win. The sack at the end of the game was huge and we dominated the line which was huge. I think we managed the clock well. I thought we had the first down and victory then tell us we were short. Then we punt it out of bounds, because we didn't want any type of return. Our punter executed that well and they had a long way to go and our defense held it down. That sack at the end was huge with a three man rush. We found a way to get to them.”

(On the win despite Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 207
Gainesville, GA

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not playing his best)

“He played pretty good. He was 21 of 30 and had two big touchdown strikes. Big ones - ran the ball well, made some big plays. What he's going to tell you is he's going to be real disappointed with two missed throws. The one to (Jordan) Leggett he either scores or its bout 40-yards. Because we had the right call, against the right blitz, and they turned him loose. And he just kind of got a little antsy and he just kind of threw it off the wrong foot and just kind of threw it in the ground. Hey, I mean he ain't perfect. He's going to make some mistakes. What a leader, what toughness he showed out there tonight. Did a great job of getting us into the right place. He made a couple of checks that led to big plays for us so I just thought he managed the game well and he's going to be sick with a couple of plays but (others) are going to be sick too. We ran the angle route that probably scores or gets inside the 10 and we drop it on third down. I think we were 5 of 14 on third down. We missed a couple of them so we should have been right around 50 percent which would have been a huge, huge accomplishment for us. So we'll get better. We'll get better. He hasn't had any adversity either. You got to understand this kid, it's been a lot of success for him, coming out of the gate here, so it's good to see him respond here.”

(On the young defense facing adversity)
“My message to them right before we went out there was I'm going to make them use all of their timeouts and we're going to have the same exact situation. Let's don't be stupid. And let's not make some boneheaded play like we did last year. We did turn that 83 loose, we played two-man and we turned him loose, but you know we played smart, we did a good job. I was about to run out there and tackle him myself at the end of the game. I was glad to see him get down on the ground. The pressure I think was the difference in the game for us. They never really could get comfortable. They couldn't run the ball. And if you can't run the ball it's tough. Especially when your coverage people do their job. And so I'm proud of them. We played and managed that situation better than we did last year against this same team. So that's a good thing.”

(On the offense being out of rhythm)
“I really don't think we had a hard time finding a rhythm. I thought we played field position. We go pinned deep a couple of times and we let them move the ball out. Kind of played the little field position game. No one scored, but you put two, a couple of first downs together, and you create field position, that's huge when you got a defense like we do. We had one really good drive where we started out about the fifty, but then we put them down at like the 14 yard line. And then we got the ball back and we scored. So, the game within the game there is critical. That was my message at halftime. We were moving the ball, putting first downs together, but we just weren't finishing with some points. There's some things we'll look at. Again, just a couple of missed plays that we sputtered on. But, overall I'm proud of our guys, it wasn't perfect. Give them credit. They're a good team. It's a hard thing to overcome all of the things that we did.”

(How far away are you from being a great team)
“We're getting better and improving, I think we have a chance to be a great team by November. That's where we want to be. We're getting better and all we can do is play the schedule that's in front of us. We have to win those games. I think we have the potential to be a really good football team. It's not easy. Ya'll watch college football and y'all see how hard it is for teams to win at home or where ever against teams that you're supposed to beat. It's difficult when you're a young team with 40 freshmen making their first trip. It was an opportunity to get better. We achieved our mission. If we can stay humble and be focused on being successful, we have a chance to be a great team. We're going to take it one game at a time. Notre Dame is our next biggest game because it's our next game. If we keep that mentality and how we prepare I think that we're going to get better. We're confident we have a few guys that can make plays.”

Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
Jr. Tight End
#16 6-5, 252
Navarre, FL

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, Jr., TE

(On the win not being pretty) “Yeah we'll take a win any way we can get it. Louisville played great, nail-biter that came down to the last play. I'm just happy we came out with the W. “

(On his touchdown) “Yeah it was a little fancy play that we came up with Coach Elliot. We actually did it a couple years ago with Cooper it just so happened that another tight end got a score. It was pretty exciting.”

(On why they ran that play tonight) “Big stage. We just wanted to show how explosive our offense is and how tricky we can be.”

(On being open on another one, that came up a little short) “It's all good though as long as we came out with the win. As long as that play wasn't the one that decided the game.”

(On what Deshaun said to him on the sideline) “No, I mean after that we just had to punt the ball away. It was just go on to the next play.”

(On what it means to get a big road win) “It definitely feels good. It's behind us and we have that road win. We're just going to take these two weeks off and get ready for Notre Dame. It's definitely big for our confidence.”

Deshaun Watson, So., QB

(On Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 210
Loganville, GA

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) “He did a great job, he was running hard, and before the game I told him, 'It's your time to shine.' And that's what he did.”

(How much does that help the offense take it to the next level) “It's great, you know, especially to kinda balance out the offense in the running and passing game. And the offensive line did a great job of opening up the holes, and creating them at the line of scrimmage, and he (Wayne Gallman) kinda followed them and just ran hard and got what he did.”

(On what he saw on the throw to Hunter (Renfrow) for the touchdown) “I just seen cover two, and Hunter ran a great route to beat him, and I just threw it in, and he made a great catch and ran it in for the touchdown.”

(On did you know you were gonna get hit on that play) “Nah, my eyes were down field, and I kinda felt the pressure, but I just got rid of it in time, and he made a great catch.”

(What does it mean to get a win on the road in the ACC) “It's great. I mean, especially in this conference, it's hard to win on the road. So, just to come on the road, especially Thursday night, they're hyped up, and we're going for undefeated in the ACC, it was, it was tough. We had some mistakes that we couldn't fix, so it was good to come out with the 'W.'”

(Do you think the defense has exceeded the expectations of many so far in the first three games) “We knew from the offseason and camp that the defense was gonna be tough, and it's one of the best defenses we gonna see everyday, so we knew that they weren't gonna have any problems, and Coach (Brent) Venables was gonna do a great job of preparing those guys, and that's what he's done so far, so they've been playing tough the next two games, and I'm gonna have a bye week to have those guys rested up and get ready for Notre Dame.”

(Did you rush it because you saw it was gonna be a big play, I mean, what made you rush it) “Yeah, I just kinda, tried to hit him with something, you know, I usually never do. I usually always, you know, be back and calm, and it was one of those things that I kinda tried and rush it and, you know, try to hurry up and get it there. But it's one of those things I can correct.”

(Were you a little hyped up tonight, more than maybe usual) “I guess you could say that. I was prepared and ready to play. I've been waiting for this moment my whole career, so it was a blessing to be out here in this environment, so it was great.”

Wayne Gallman, R-So., RB

(Did you feel early in the game that this game is where you really need to carry a heavy load tonight) “Uh yes, this is probably one of the first games where I was really confident in myself and I had the jitters and so I really, really starting to feel everything come out feel really good about myself.

(What kind of game have you envisioned being a bell cow/work horse at running back) “Yeah that's what the group like what we all wanted in the running back game and just be a game changer. We just want to put the team on our back and I feel like I need to do that.”

(What gave you the extra confidence tonight) “Just sticking with the plan and our preparation and just really trusting what we been doing in practice and uh really just trusting myself and offensive line.”

(You were able to get outside a lot vision was really good tonight you were able to kind of see where to go especially when you got outside the tackles a little bit) “Yeah man I had fun tonight and really everybody really just did a great job.”

(Are you going to need a cold tub tomorrow with all the carrying) “I feel pretty fine. I'll probably just go over there and get some treatment anyway but um I'm pretty fine.”

(I'm guessing you didn't have a 24 carry game at Grayson, did you) “It feels great to have carries over 20 yards man because in high school man I barely got any but I tried my best with everyone I had.”

(This one didn't have the big numbers of the South Carolina game, but does it mean more on the road in a tight game you did this?) “Yeah not just that um really more of you know last year I came into my own probably later on in the year and now we're starting out the year I'm glad that the whole team is getting on this trip and man I'm just glad I'm feeling more natural at the position.”

(A lot of young guys made plays for you tonight on offense. What can it do for your all's confidence being on the road in a game like this?) “That just goes to show that they've been doing what they've supposed to do off the field and on the field. Really getting into the playbook and learning what they're supposed to.”

(A win like this on the road, is this special for this team right now in terms of the confidence that it brings going forward?) “It definitely bring confidence and it's definitely something that we know we can do when we go to places. It's also exciting just really getting to experience different stadiums and different fields. It's all about just having fun.”

(You gained 139 yards and you didn't go backwards at all how much does that mean to you just knowing that you didn't lose a yard) “It's something that I know I can do. It's really all just preparation when you really get into it and uh really trust the offensive line. That's what it all comes with.”

Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino

(Opening statement)
It's a very competitive game. I thought our players today did a good job getting ready for the game in this short week. They prepared well and practiced hard … came out and competed hard. We didn't do everything right particularly on offense. We're just not very good right now on offense. We have a hard time running the football and tonight we had a hard time converting third downs. That was something we were able to do the previous two games, but we couldn't sustain drives on third down. It is a good defensive football team. They're very good against the run. They're smart. I thought we made some plays and we did get an opportunity to get in the position to tie the game and then in position to throw one in the end zone late, but there just wasn't enough power on offense. We got a big lift by the kickoff return… still getting a lot of production from a lot of freshmen out there. Defensively we played well at times, but when we get the lead, we've got to keep the lead. That's what we need to expect on defense. It was a close game. They're a good football team and we played a couple of good football teams, but we've got a lot of work to do to get this thing turned around.

(On what he would have liked to see on the last few plays)
“Well we got the one down the middle to Micky (Crum), and then we come back and then had another play that gave us an opportunity to get the ball down the sideline or down the middle. I think Kyle (Bolin) thought he'd be able to step up and make a throw down the sideline and he just got sacked. I thought maybe we'd get in a position to try another field goal or get the ball in the end zone. Obviously we didn't get it done.”

(On quarterback Kyle Bolin's performance)
“It wasn't as good as we need, but obviously it's not just the quarterback. You've got to help the quarterback by being able to run the ball. You've got to help the quarterback by having better protection. Being more precise on our routes. Even though we are getting some production from young receivers, at times they're not where they need to be on time with their routes. So we still have a whole lot of work to do offensively. There's no question about that.”

(On the team's quarterback situation)
“I think what we need to do is just continue to evaluate where we're at. We felt like going into this game, he gave us the best opportunity to win the game. And then we had a package for short yardage where we brought Lamar (Jackson) and Reggie (Bonnafon) in there, and it did help us. We had a big play there on the drive before the last one, on a short yardage play, but we went down and missed the field goal.”

(On the challenge of keeping players motivated after an 0-3 start)
“It's definitely a challenge. There's no question about that. I don't think I've ever been 0-3 before. We've lost some really close games. We've had our opportunities. We just have to go back to work. You only know to work hard and get rid of mistakes and execute better and learn how to run the ball. I thought we had some opportunities to run the ball and we just didn't sustain blocks or didn't hit it right. We missed a block one time. It looked like it was going to be a touchdown and then we just missed it. So we had a lot of opportunities, we're just not getting it done right now.”

(On third down situations)
“Well we missed some third and shorts today and that really hurt us. And then they did a good job on pressures and attacking our protection and beating guys one on one. We really didn't have time to throw the ball a couple of time and third and long plays. But we need to convert those third and ones, that's something we've been doing a great job of. I think we were 89 percent on third and ones and we didn't get it done, especially early in the game. That is how you sustain drives, keep them on the field then they get tired.”

Jaylen Smith, Fr., WR
(What was the coaches' message after the loss?)
“Coach Petrino told us that we competed, played hard, and had a few key plays and a few mishaps.

(On the missed opportunities in games that led to the outcome)
“I feel like we should be 3-0 easily. I feel like we should be able to run with them 100% of the time. Having a few mishaps throws off the flow of the game and messes up the timing for the quarterbacks. Or if a lineman misses a block, it just throws off everything.

(On the mood in the locker room?)
“It's tough. We know we played hard. Everybody knows that we competed but it's just tough because we feel like we should be 3-0 or maybe 2-1. We feel like we could have won all three games. We had the opportunity in the fourth quarter and in the third quarter to take the lead and keep the lead. We're getting better, we know we're getting better. We feel the progress.

(Any play you wish you had back?)
“Second and 10 in the second quarter. I dropped an eight-yard stop drop. And then late in second quarter, me and Kyle weren't on the same page. Coach tells us all the type in practice, if it's inside you have get in there. If it's low, you have to put your pinkies together and bring it back to you. This wasn't the perfect ball but I still could have made the catch so those were two plays I wish I could have back.

(What do you think of Kyle coming in as primary quarterback?)
“I really like Kyle. I like all of the quarterbacks. I feel like Kyle to come and be the 3rd starting quarterback, and to have the high spirits that he did have was great. He had a great week of practice, he played tough and hard all day. He has all the respect for me and I feel like whatever quarterback is in, they have all of my respect and all of my efforts.

(On the last play)
“I don't think we realized that the clock was running. I at least didn't think the clock was running. I thought JaQuay had run out of bounds. I look at the clock.. it's 12…11…10. He called a play, that we could catch the pass to get out of bounds but the pocket collapsed. The DBS did something different other than what we expected. It just all went down from there”

(How much responsibility do you have even though you're so young?)
“You have to be regardless of how young you are. You have to feel responsible. I'm starting I'm in the starting lineup. If coach has the trust to put me in, I have to respond to that by giving my 100% effort and doing right on my assignments.”

(What you are feeling right now?)
“I feel like 3-0. That's all I can think about. I feel like every game we've had a chance to take the lead or we've had a final drive or something. I feel like we're getting better, but at the same time.. I want to win.

(Are these one of those games that play over and over in your mind?)
“Yes. It's one of those. It's one of those, you had a chance two or three times. You could have made that play, you could have made this play. It's just there”

(Any concern that guys may start checking out with tough beginning of the season?)
“I feel like everybody is pretty much mentally at that level where they realize what's going on. They realize that we're still in a good position and that it's just the first ACC game of the season. We have seven more.

Sheldon Rankins, Sr., DE
(How difficult is tonight's loss?)
“It's extremely difficult. The players come to practice every day and go over game plans, and try to come out and execute. Sometimes things go right, sometimes they don't, but that's a part of football. We've just got to go back to the drawing board and come back next week. We got a game next week. It's not the end of the season, so you got to come back with a great attitude and get to work. It's not the end of the year. Obviously to lose your first conference game, the way we lost it… close game, prime time ESPN it sucks, but the season must go on and we can't let this affect the rest of the games.”

(Is it a frustrating feeling, a discouraging… how do you process this?)
“I'd be lying if I said it wasn't frustrating, but like I said it is a part of football. You win some, you lose some… Somebody has to lose, and sadly, these first three games it's been us in close games. It's not like we've gone out there and got ran out the building. We've been in every game. A few things here and there that will cost you the games. We have to learn from it. We have to grow from it. And like I said we have to go back to the drawing board and come back ready next week, and ready to play.”

(On the defense)
“Like I said we got to go back to the drawing board with everything. Yeah, we gave up some runs. Sometimes we were stout and stopped them and gave the offense the ball back. Like you said there were times where they gashed us. Guys maybe not where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, or maybe it was just good scheme by Clemson. I'm not taking nothing away from those guys, but we have to fix what we can control. That's our effort, that's our assignments, and we'll do that. We will come back next week with a great mentality and ready to play.”

(What do you hope to see from your team this week?)
“I hope to see guys able to put it behind them. I know that it's a tough loss, especially since we're a young team. We've got a lot of young guys playing. This is a big stage. We started off with a big stage with Auburn and third game of the year now is a big stage with Clemson. And we lose both of those games, and just kind of talking to those guys and not letting them get discouraged. Like I said, it's a long season, and we have to fight through it. We have to fight through the growing pains and try to win games. That's what we need to do.”

(Are you worried that younger guys might check out? How do you keep them on?)
“I don't too much worry about that. We've got a pretty resilient group. Our guys, just their mentality since they stepped on campus has been great. They're not guys who are just going to waver to one side or the other, they are going to follow what the older guys are doing. Me, myself, Aaron Epps, Radcliff, Kelsey, Burgess… Us captains and those other guys that are playing a lot… DeAngelo Brown, Pio (Vatuvei), and those guys, we're going to lead by example and we're also going to talk to the guys. I don't think these guys will be discouraged. Like I said, we've got to come back next week and get to work, and I think we'll do that.

(What do you say to John Wallace, It can be a pretty lonely spot, especially for a kicker?)
“You got to tell him to keep his head up. I'm pretty sure there is going to be another time this year that we are going to call on him to kick it, and we fully have confidence in him to go make it. That's just a part of kicking, you make it or you don't. The situation that it was in, it is going to get blown up more, that's just a part of kicking. But we have full confidence in him. We've seen him make a hundred field goals before, so it's not for lack of confidence. We're just going to tell him to keep his head up and when his number is called, I'm sure he'll make it.

Kyle Bolin, So., QB
(On that last play)
“We just knew we didn't have any timeouts and we had to get the ball down the field quickly to get it in field goal range or a touchdown. On the last call he just tried to send guys down the field and I tried to throw in an area where my guys could adjust and Clemson ended up with the ball. That situation is difficult so we have to do our best to come out and make a play.

(What were you thinking about the play before the sack?)
“I was just trying to get the ball out of my hands to where either my receiver could make a play or it was an incomplete pass to stop the clock. That's what we are taught in those situations.”

(How difficult is this week and moving forward how do you put 0-3 start behind you?)
“It's very hard right now. We did a great job this week in practice. I felt like coming off the Houston loss we were right back the next day working hard, so proud of the team the way we focused in practice and worked our butts off every day, this one hurts. Hats off to Clemson they are a great team, I wish them the best of luck in the future but we have to put these three losses behind us and move forward. It's a long season right now we are 0-1 in the ACC and I'm sure there has been plenty of teams make it to the ACC championship with just one loss in the conference so we just have to keep trucking along.”

(What needs to happen to get the rushing game going?)
“We just have to get the screens going, we are a young group of guys once they get a feel of the offense and are able to communicate and work together as a unit that's when we will get our running game going.”

(You're one of the older guys and team leaders you have a lot of young kids on the team… four freshman receivers, what do you say to them to keep their spirits up?”
“It's just more of making sure they stay focused, young guys understand how important this is they understand what it takes to be successful. Their maturity level making sure they are locked in 24/7, there is no time for you to mess around or not pay attention or miss a rep in practice. It's just nailing that hammer to make sure they are staying focused. I'm really proud of the young guys they stepped in here and they're playing a big role and they are coming along great.”

(How do you evaluate your own performance?)
“Honestly I feel like I made plays when I needed to. There were mistakes here and there that I wish I could take back. Obviously we didn't win so I could've played better, statistics… I don't really even know.”

(Is it encouraging to know that you come within a play or two of two top 10 teams?)
“A loss is a loss it doesn't matter how much you lose by. On the flipside taking two losses by three points to two great teams, Houston is a great team they don't get the respect they deserve but that's three great teams they we unfortunately took a loss too but we've just got to understand we are a couple plays away from getting the 'W'.”

(What gives you confidence that your team can bounce back from an 0-3 start?)
“Just being around these guys for so long understanding what they want and are willing to sacrifice to get to that point. I have full confidence that we are going to bounce back.”

(You got the sack or whatever was there ever a sign from the sidelines to spike or to go?)
“We were just trying to get a play off, to get an incomplete, spike the ball, or get out of bounds. We just had trouble getting back to the line and making a call. We will take a look at the film and see what we can do.”

Traveon Samuel, Fr., WR
(Talk about the spark you gave your team)
“I was just going to go out and do my job competing on the kickoff team, I saw the seam and I busted it.”

(Did you guys feel like you needed a spark?)
“Yeah, we really needed that big spark in the game. That really turned us around and gave us a lot of momentum.”

(On the kickoff return what was going through your mind, when did you know?)
“Once I stuck my foot in the ground and gotten off I knew that was it.”

(What kind of things was Petrino saying to the team?)
“He said we competed well we came out and played hard a physical game.”

(How much has this team been learning on a weekly basis?)
“We have been competing more and going harder in practice each and every week trying to get better.”

(Even though you're so young how much responsibility do you feel to make a play because the receiving core is so young?)
“All of us are young right now so we all have to make plays.”

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