Swinney on ACC Championship: Four quarters away from the playoff


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The ACC Trophy is on the line Saturday night in Charlotte
The ACC Trophy is on the line Saturday night in Charlotte

CLEMSON – The stakes will be high in Charlotte Saturday when Clemson takes on Miami in the ACC Championship Game.

Not only is the ACC title on the line, but the winner likely advances into the final four of the College Football Playoff with a chance to play for the National Championship. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Clemson (11-1) faces off against Miami (11-1) at 8:14 p.m. on ABC, and Tiger head coach Dabo Swinney is already looking forward to the matchup.

“A lot to prepare for with this group, but really excited about it. It should be a great crowd,” Swinney said Tuesday. “It's good to be back in Charlotte. I think it's a sellout. GameDay. It's fun. It will be great. It's four quarters. Four quarters away from having a chance to go back to the Playoff and that's what we're all shooting for.”

Swinney said he likes where his team sits after the regular season.

We're what I thought we would be. I'm just proud of them,” he said. “Not many people picked them to win the division but we got that done. I'm really excited that we were able to win our state championship. I'm really excited we've hit three of our goals and we've got two left. We'd like to go 5-for-five on those goals. Usually good things happen when we do that, but we've got a big challenge this week with Miami.

“Congratulations to Miami. What a year they've had. This is a really, really good football. This is the way it should be. This is a championship game and you've got the best team from the Coastal and the best team from the Atlantic. It's been earned on the field by both teams and now you've got four quarters to decide who will stake claim to being the ACC Champion for 2017. It's a great matchup.”

NOTES

On the Hurricanes

“Defensively, they are really, really good. They look like Clemson. It looks like our practice tape when I watch that defense. They've got some cats up front. It's a bunch of pros - No. 9, No. 99, No. 80, No. 7, No. 33, No. 97. They've got a lot of them. Athletic, big, heavy-handed, well-coached defensive front. Backers can fly. Big, physical guys that can run and speed on the back end. They are a complete defense. It's going to be a challenge at all three levels. They lead the nation in turnover margin. They lead the nation in sacks. They're second in the nation in tackles for loss. I think we're right there behind them or right there with them in just about every category defensively. You've got two great defenses going against each other.

“Then on the flip side, offensively, they're very balanced. This is as balanced a football team as we've played all year. That presents problems. When you have a team that can play with balance, it challenges you. They've not been one-dimensional at all. They're a team that hangs their hat on being able to run the football and play-action in the boots that come off of that. That's a challenge. They've got four out of five offensive linemen back that started for them last year. I love this running back. Little No. 24, he's a baller. He's a really good player. Huge loss for them with the tight end. It's really unfortunate and you hate that for the young man. They've got a bunch of dudes outside.

"They've got some guys that can run. They've got size. It's a great matchup. Very impressed with this quarterback. He's made a lot of plays with his legs. He's very athletic. Mark (Richt) has done a fantastic job giving them a chance to win week in and week out with a great plan and they've stuck to the plan. They've found ways every week to move the football in critical situations in a game where they've had to have drives, they've made big plays. You know it's going to be a game of a few plays. Probably going to come down to that turnover margin and big plays. That's usually what decides championship games. We all understand that. Special teams - (Braxton) Berrios is the leading receiver but he's also a great returner. He's going to present some challenges for us that we've got to have a plan for. He's a really, really good football player who is a senior veteran, smart, savy guy that's a matchup issue.”

Injuries

*Travis Etienne: He is fine.

*Dexter Lawrence: He is as healthy as he's been. I don't think there's anybody out there 100 percent.

*Tre Lamar: He's doing a lot better but he's still day-to-day.

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