Swinney previews Georgia Tech, says Jackets will be a challenge

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney said that RB Andre Ellington will work again at kick return this week
Swinney said that RB Andre Ellington will work again at kick return this week

CLEMSON – To all of the people that may be overlooking a wounded Georgia Tech team this weekend, Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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has a message for you.


Clemson returns home to take on the Coastal Division rival Yellow Jackets in a 3:30 p.m. match-up this Saturday in Death Valley. The Yellow Jackets are 2-3 overall, have a two-game losing streak and are battling defensive issues. However, the Jackets have won five of six in the series, and Swinney called this week’s game another challenge.

“Another big challenge this week with Georgia Tech. It's a rivalry game. It's always, always a tough game,” Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. “We've had some knock-down, drag-outs with these guys but we haven't won much as of late. It's a huge game for us. A huge game for Georgia Tech. They are coming off of a couple of overtime losses. That's a very difficult thing to deal with. You work all year then you lose two games on the last play of the game. I know they are disappointed with how they played last week but we will get their A-game and our players know that.

“They took Miami to the wire in overtime and they took Virginia Tech to overtime at their place. They put up more than 50 points against Virginia. And look at what they did to us last year. They beat us. This is a team we have a lot of respect for and we are going to have to play very well to win the game. The biggest thing is we are home. It's good to be home.”

Swinney said it will be good to simply have a home game – the Tigers have played seven of their last nine games away from Death Valley, and three of five this season – and he challenged the crowd to be a vocal force this weekend.

“We are 4-1 and three of our five games have been away from Death Valley. It's good to be home,” he said. “Seven of our last nine have been away from Death Valley. I really want to challenge our crowd. But we need to create the best environment in college football. It needs to be in Clemson. We have a 3:30 kick and we will make this a great environment. The energy in The Valley is awesome.”

He then previewed the Georgia Tech offense, and said the option will present the usual challenges.

“Looking at Georgia Tech, they are a veteran offensive line. But it all starts with the quarterback. No. 13 {Tevin Washington] killed us last year. He set about every record in the book last year. Big plays. He destroyed us. He rushed for 176 yards. He has 11 touchdowns right now and leads the ACC and leads the nation in touchdowns for a quarterback. He is a very dangerous player, and that's where it starts to defend these guys. No. 17 [A-back Orwin Smith] is dangerous. For whatever reason not many people talk about him much. Orwin Smith. He's got four of the top 20 longest plays in Georgia Tech history. Dangerous player. Good returner. He's a guy that is very capable of hitting the home run. He averages 9.8 yards per carry and that leads the nation. They always seem to have a 6-4, 6-5 guy. That's the nature of the beast. They've got two of them. They will play-action you. Post, wheel routes. We have to win those one-on-one matchups. They love to get outside. We have to leverage the ball and you have to play the option every single play.”

He said Clemson simply failed to execute in last year’s loss in Atlanta.

“This is a game defensively, we had guys in position but they didn't do their job,” he said. “You can't get bored with it. When you try to do more than your job. We have to play with great discipline and try and create some turnovers and stay on your feet. They cut you on every play- they cut you inside. That's a huge part of this game. We have to work hard on in practice. We will go live today and cut everywhere and try to get them ready. You never see it until game day.

“Defensively, they run an odd front but big. Really big, big guys. We will have to do a great job of winning individual blocks. They get No. 45 [LB Jeremiah Attaochu] back this week and he's a very very good football. He can play. He wasn't there for them last week but he's better. No. 11 [LB Brandon Watts}, 32 [LB Jabari Hunt-Days] they are all good. The secondary is a strength for them. They had a player of the week last year in the secondary against us. Ball security in a game like this is huge.”

He said the Clemson offensive will have to score at every opportunity.

“Offensively, you have to maximize your opportunities,” he said. “They are in four-down territory the entire game. We saw it in the championship game. Craziest game I've ever been a part of with no punts. I think we only had the ball 18 plays in the first half. We had five turnovers. Georgia Tech has forced nine turnovers this year and they've scored eight touchdowns off those turnovers. They cash in. That's a huge stat. It's a big challenge for us against a team that we haven't had much success against. We need to create momentum going into the open date and build off the second half we had up in Boston.”

Other notes

On how players getting bored with option can cause issues

“Guys, just do your job. We always have somebody for the quarterback, but instead of doing his job he takes the pump fake on the pitch and he's going to go tackle that guy too. When you do that, you are going to have issues. You have to do your job every single play. They have like 10 one-minute scoring drives. 10 plays of 50 yards or longer. They live off the big play. That's how they have beaten us. And then turnovers. We have to clean that up. Do your job. Then you have to win some one-on-one matchups. Win more than you lose. Then offensively, you can't help them. You have to maximize opportunities because they are going to keep the ball.”

On Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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and kickoff returns

“He's just gifted. I think we all saw that Saturday with the great field position he provided us. It's like what we had when C.J. SpillerC.J. Spiller
Pro Running Back
#28 5-11, 195
Lake Butler, FL

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and Jacoby FordJacoby Ford
Wide Receiver
#6 5-9, 175
Royal Palm Beach, FL

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were here. They just sense it better. We'll continue to use him back there. Sammy is the same way. He's gifted. And we'll use him too.”

On the offensive line

“After five games I'd say the arrow is way up for this group. I didn't think we played well in the first half Saturday night. Second half was much better. B.C. played some odd fronts and slanted some guys and they didn't make some one-on-one blocks. They didn't finish. Having said that our lineman of the week was David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS So. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 315
Columbus, GA

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. A year ago I didn't know if this guy was going to play. He was awesome. Must have loved the cold weather up there or something. After five games for me to be telling you he's our lineman of the week - man - he's improved. Old Shatley is a veteran over there. Then there's Giff. He probably had his worst game Saturday in Boston but he's solid. We are maturing on the offensive line. We have just one senior. I'm very encouraged.”

On the health of Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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“He looked great [in practice Monday] You'd never know three days earlier he was being rushed to the hospital. That was a crazy situation. As they kind of explained it to me it was a perfect storm. Virus, dehydration and then probably some type of trauma where he got hit somewhere. It was a very dangerous thing. But everything is great. He's back at it. Hopefully we can get his record above .500 because we are 1-1 with him this year.”

On if defensive positions are up for grabs

“We've just got a lot of competition because we've got a lot of young players. You have to continue to feed that competitive nature we have right now. We are looking for consistency in the secondary more than anything. It's good to see Garry Peters jump in there last week. He performed very well. And he performed confidently. I like the competition we've got going on. I think we are improving. I think Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
So. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

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is improving. He's a very young player that's playing a lot of snaps. I wish he was a backup right now where we could bring him along. Kind of like with Andre BranchAndre Branch
Defensive End
#40 6-5, 260
Richmond, VA

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. He wasn't very good as a sophomore that became a great player. That's where we are. These guys are made of the right stuff. They care. They like to play. Football is important to them. We just got to coach them.”

On if the defense is talented enough to be effective

“Oh yeah. I laugh when people say we don't have talent. We don't have a lot of experience on defense but we are getting better. We are getting better. I'd go back and recruit all of these guys all over again. We have a lot of guys who are playing a lot and who may not be ready for their role but I'm proud of them. We have a great defensive staff. They aren't guys that don't work on things every day. I'm encouraged. Not discouraged.”

On the play of the safeties

“Inconsistent. [Jonathan] Meeks has been very solid. Probably had his worst game in Boston but everybody else has been inconsistent. Up and down. [Rashard] Hall for example. He's had some really good moments and some disappointing moments. Our standard for him is higher because of who he is. We've just done some really not-smart things. We've done some good things but just inconsistent.”

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