Swinney on big game game with NC State:
Dabo Swinney and Dave Doeren before last year's game (Photo by Rob Kinnan, USAT)

Swinney on big game game with NC State: "This is what it's all about"

by - Staff Writer -

CLEMSON – The ACC Atlantic Division can’t be won or lost in one week, but the winner of Saturday’s showdown between unbeaten Clemson and N.C. State will certainly be in the driver’s seat heading for the ACC Championship.

The Tigers and Wolfpack square off in a 3:30 p.m. tilt that will be aired on ESPN, and both teams are ready to prove they’re the best team in the Atlantic.

“Coming off of an open date. It's been a really productive open date for us. I think it came at a great time,” Dabo Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. “This worked out great for us because we've grown our team over the first six weeks. We've learned a lot about our team. We've developed some very critical depth. We have some young guys who have shown that they can help us win. It's been a very productive first half being 6-0. We have enough video to help us improve and give us the best chance going forward on how to improve.

“We've had a little bit of extra time to get ready for N.C. State, but so have they because they had an open date as well. Health-wise we're in a good spot. Hopefully, that will continue through a tough week of practice. This is going to be a big game, man. They're all huge. There aren't many undefeated teams left. You have two in the Valley Saturday. You best believe no team wants to lose. You're going to have two teams who are passionate about winning.”

Swinney said it doesn’t get much better than a matchup between two undefeated division rivals.

“We're excited about it. 3:30 kick in The Valley. I know we're going to have an awesome crowd and we're going to need them,” Swinney said. “This is what it's all about. You have two undefeated Power 5 teams in the same division. We can't win the division this week and neither can they, but the winner of this game has the opportunity to stay in control of their destiny and that's really where you want to be. The loser isn't out of it, but you've got to hope something happens. We want to do everything we can to stay in control of our destiny and get off to a good start in the second half of our season.”

The antics from the last few Clemson and N.C. State matchups will only add fuel to the fire.

"I didn’t want a laptop investigation. I did want an investigation into the towel stealing. Dave sent me some adidas towels. I was like, ‘Hey, these aren't even our towels’. I guess Bradley Chubb has them hanging up somewhere in his apartment in Denver,” Swinney said. “This is a competitive game for sure. We have had some crazy stuff, though. Isaiah Battle punched that guy one year and lost his mind. One of their coaches pushed Deshaun (Watson) one year. I had to call him and apologize for Isaiah and he had to call me for his assistant coach. Last year I didn't understand the laptop stuff. It was all good. I get along fine with Dave. It's competitive. They're a good team.”

Led by quarterback Ryan Finley, Swinney said the Wolfpack offense may be one of the best Clemson will face this season.

"N.C. State is a good team. Schematically they're one of the best teams on our schedule. This quarterback is a legit pro,” Swinney said. “I don't know where he will be drafted but it will be early. He has complete ownership of what they do. They do a great job with their run game, their stretch scheme and he is a very gifted, accurate thrower. Great command of everything they're doing. He has a good understanding of defensive concepts. They give up the second fewest sacks in the country. They're good up front. They're physical, nasty, aggressive and do a great job of cutting you on the backside. They have an All-American at left tackle, a really good center and I thought they beat us up front last year.

Defensively, Swinney said not to let the fact that State lost a bunch of starters off last year’s team deceive you.

“N.C. State is always one of the best we play. They're good up front,” he said. “They lost some guys from last year but these guys who are starters this year played a ton of football for them over the last couple of years. Three guys back in the back end that started for them. Same thing, really well coached. Schematically, they know exactly what you're doing.”

Other notes

On Tavien Feaster’s health

"He's a lot better and back in practice. We expect him to be ready to roll."

On Cornell Powell

“He's back and ready to go. He got his situation resolved. We're talking about maybe trying to red-shirt him. We've had some discussions about that. We might see how that goes and see if we can get a year back on Cornell."

Reflecting on his 10th anniversary as Clemson’s head coach

“I did. It was more so last week. I had a chance to visit with some people who wanted to talk about it. It was neat to do that. I was in Ohio for a funeral this past weekend. I did ride an unbelievable roller coaster on that anniversary. I can't believe I rode it. It was crazy. It was freezing, too. This little town we were in was near Cedar Point. So that's what I did on my anniversary. I was just thinking about surviving that roller coaster."

On Xavier Thomas’ role

“It's already increased. We've created some packages where he has been in there. It ain't going to decrease. That's for sure. Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant can play both sides. Xavier is kind of that third guy right now. Justin Foster is right there, too. Logan Rudolph is in that mix, too."

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