Swinney previews UNC, talks special teams and kicking game

by - Staff Writer -

CLEMSON – The Clemson football team is preparing for home game number two this week, and like the first game the Tigers are coming off a tough road loss against a ranked opponent.

However, head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said he feels better about where his team is heading into the fourth game of the season against North Carolina than he did after the game against Georgia.

“Excited about getting back in the Valley. Night game here in Death Valley - that’s something that we really treasure,” Swinney told the media during his Tuesday press conference in the WestZone. “We've only had one home game this year. I know our team is excited about spending some time at home. Not excited about being 1-2. I will say that I'm very proud of the improvement of our team. We've greatly improved from the start of the season and I'm thankful for that. We've got a long ways to go and we've got a chance to be a heck of a football team.”

The Tar Heels are coming off of a 70-41 loss of East Carolina – a performance that Swinney said isn’t indicative of the North Carolina program and should give Larry Fedora’s group extra motivation this weekend.

“Another tough challenge this week. Only thing being worse than 1-2 is 1-3,” Swinney said. “UNC is a dangerous team. They are coming off of a really tough loss like we are. I know people look at the score and say goodness gracious. Football is crazy sport and crazy things happen. This is a really good football team. Biggest thing for us is to finish.”

Swinney said that offensively the Tar Heels are a faster version of Clemson’s offense.

“Offensively looking at them - they are the fastest team we've played in terms of tempo,” he said. “They are extremely fast. We have to do a really good job preparing for that. They score a lot of points. They score a lot of points. They are big up front. They play two quarterbacks. They just play them. They have a ton of confidence in both of those guys. Both guys are capable of executing offensively. They have three running backs they all love to play. They all run hard. They understand the scheme. No. 34 (Elijah Hood) looks like he's going to be great in time.”

On defense and special teams, the Tarheels may be one of the more dangerous teams the Tigers will face this season, according to Swinney.

“Defensively, they are big up front. They have size and depth. No. 9 (Travis Hughes) is a linebacker we recruited hard at Clemson. Back end on the secondary, No. 28 (Brian Walker) leads the league in interceptions with three. They really create turnovers and that's a huge factor in being 2-1.

“Special teams, this is the most dangerous team we've played in a while. They return kickoffs. They have had some last-second punt returns. We've got good people. (Ryan) Switzer is as good as we will see. They take chances.”

Other notes

On the kicking game

“Coverage-wise we did better. We had the one return (given up). Pinion had one that could have been better. Ammon [Lakip] is the most talented guy but that hasn't translated yet. It's just mental. We've got to get him through that and if we can’t someone else will get a chance. We are really stressing that all week long. Alex SpenceAlex Spence
Fr. Kicker
#47 6-2, 190
Florence, SC

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, I was very impressed yesterday. We are going to give Bradley PinionBradley Pinion
Jr. Punter
#92 6-6, 230
Concord, NC

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a chance too.

“Alex was one of the best guys out there when we signed him. But he was a little overwhelmed when he first got here. He has kind of been on the shelf since then until yesterday and then all of a sudden you could see he looked like what we saw when he was in high school. So he looks different. We'll see how it plays out. You know I'm reminded with Ammon of Cat ( Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
Punter / Kicker (2009 - 2013)
#39 6-2, 195
Greenville, SC

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). Cat struggled and that's the reason we went out and signed Ammon but then he refused to let that starting position go. And we all know how that turned out. So we'll see. I'm hopeful the same thing will happen with Ammon.”

Quarterbacks taking snaps under center

“You're not going to see us change our offense, no. We are who we are. We've been under center, yes, but we are not an under-center offense. I'm not going to change what we do because we had one bad play. I'm not going to change our offense because we've had one bad snap out of 10,000. Fact of the matter is we have to make the proper snap. Chad wasn't comfortable with it. We are who we are and I know everybody has an opinion and that's fair.”

On the lack of review after C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Jr. Running Back
#32 5-10, 203
Clemson, SC

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’s “touchdown”

“We didn't really have a clear view. They were just matter of fact. They tell us they review every play. It's automatic. And if they see any doubt, they buzz them, but they were just matter of fact. But you know what? Doesn't matter. It shouldn't come to that. We are 0-2 versus Clemson. That's the bottom line. We have to control the things we could control. Yeah - I wish they could have reviewed it. I didn't have the info up top like we normally do. There was no sense of urgency at all. It was matter of fact that he didn't score.”

On the running game

“It’s been ok. First half of the Georgia game we ran the ball great. S.C. State – we were very pleased as we played a bunch of guys. Very pleased with how we ran the ball Saturday night. I think we are improving. Not best in the country at this point. Very pleased with our offensive line from Saturday night as we were physical. That No. 90 and 99 are some grown men. Their ends and the depth they have and our offensive line matched up. We weren't perfect. I think we are figuring some things out on the offensive line as well.”

On the threats to Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 292
Simpsonville, SC

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“Haven't talked to him about it yet. That's disappointing. He deleted his account. It's a shame. You move on. I remember we came back from Georgia Tech a few years ago and Tajh had a rough game and we were 8-0. We came back and his house was egged. He came in all upset. Coach Morris told him 'Coach Swinney threw the first carton and I threw the second carton." It's a tough thing for young people. Nobody likes criticism. People are passionate about it but that's crossing the line.”

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