Swinney says Clemson vs. Miami is "going to be an exciting game"
|Sunday, November 12, 2017, 7:05 PM- -|
Clemson will face off against Miami in the ACC Championship Game in early December, a game that might feature a matchup of top five teams, and head coach Dabo Swinney knows the Hurricanes are already playing championship football.
Clemson clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title with a win over Florida St. Saturday, while the Hurricanes clinched the ACC Coastal when Louisville defeated Virginia 38-21. No. 4 Clemson (9-1, 7-1) last played the Hurricanes on Oct. 24, 2015 in Miami in a 58-0 thrashing that turned out to be the final game for former coach Al Golden. The Hurricanes hired current coach Mark Richt six weeks later.
The Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004, but this is their first division title and first trip to the ACC title game.
“They’re playing great ball. They’re playing championship caliber football,” Swinney said on his Sunday night teleconference. "They’re winning close games. They’re running the football. They’re playing fast and physical on defense. They’ve made plays in special teams. They’re playing complementary ball as a team. They’re well-coached and they look like they’re having fun doing it, too. They’ve had a great year. I can’t say enough about what Mark (Richt) has done down there. He’s really done an awesome job pulling them all together. I know they’re excited to win the Coastal and we’re certainly excited to win the Atlantic. Both of us have business to take care of before that time comes. I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting game in Charlotte when that time gets here.”
Looking back at the win over FSU
“We got everything graded and looked at and it was really just a heck of a ballgame. Really proud of our guys, especially this team. It’s been awesome this past eight years and every team has its own personality and identity. This has been a unique team. Our last couple of years we were probably picked to win the division and win the league by a lot of people, but I don’t think a lot of people picked us to win the division or win the league this year, so I’m really proud of this team for coming together and they earned it. We’re sitting at 9-1 and we’re really excited to represent the Atlantic in Charlotte once again. I know we’ll have a great challenge when that time comes. We’ve achieved two goals and I’m really proud of these guys.
“Hard-fought game yesterday. Defensively, just dominant. They averaged .9 a carry. That’s really all you need to know. We had a few mistakes. The turnovers were critical. We had two touchdowns off of those turnovers. Critical. The interception by Van (Smith) is a sudden change. We fumbled it and then we went out and got the interception. I thought that sudden change was huge. They missed a few plays. We missed some plays, but overall defensively it was a heck of a ballgame.
“Offensively, just a little frustrating in some areas. You look at it and you go - okay, we had 82 plays, 24 first downs, averaged 4.5 a carry, rushed the ball for 227 yards, 8-fo-15 on third down and. Man, you just feel like you’re going to get more for that production, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to clean up our execution. It’s simple things and basic things. Second-and-goal at the one-yard line two times and we get three points. We fumbled the ball again. We’ll keep grinding. There were some good things. We had a couple of mental errors where we missed some signals and weren’t on the same page, but a lot of good things. Kelly (Bryant) was 20-of-30. The production on third down. The ability to run the football against a good team. Those are great positives. Even though we didn’t execute quite how we would’ve liked or put people away when we had an opportunity to, there’s still something to be said for finding a way to win, especially in crunch time.
“Special teams, I thought Alex Spence got back on track with his kickoffs and made a field goal. Our kickoff coverage was tremendous. Really proud of Ray-Ray and our punt return team. We had three punts inside the 15.
“Excited about this week and senior day and honoring our seniors and Military Appreciation Day as well. It should be a fun time.”
On the ejection of FSU’s Emmett Rice and his antics after ejection
“I think Jimbo (Fisher) will handle that. He knows how to run his shop. That’s something he’s in the middle of coaching a ballgame. I didn’t see it but people told me about it today. Those are things that I know he’ll handle within his team, just like I would if it was my team.”