Swinney talks South Carolina, relationship with Steve Spurrier
|Tuesday, November 26, 2013 12:24 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Nobody wants to win Saturday’s game against South Carolina more than the Clemson Tigers, but Clemson head coach
Dabo Swinney In five years, Swinney’s teams have accomplished just about everything they can – won the Atlantic Division, won the ACC, won big bowl games – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they haven’t been able to get past the Gamecocks. Swinney said that losing the last four against South Carolina hasn’t been because they haven’t wanted to win, but because they have been out-executed, something that must change for the Tigers to have a chance Saturday in Columbia. “We've gotten beaten four years in a row and nobody wants it to go to five,” Swinney said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “It's huge. It's huge for everybody. Everybody wants to win. Bad. But wanting it isn't going to get it done. But we have to be smart. Physical. We have to execute. We have to play our best game and that's where our focus is.”
View Full Profile said Tuesday that “want to” isn’t good enough when it comes to the rivalry game.
In five years, Swinney’s teams have accomplished just about everything they can – won the Atlantic Division, won the ACC, won big bowl games – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they haven’t been able to get past the Gamecocks.
Swinney said that losing the last four against South Carolina hasn’t been because they haven’t wanted to win, but because they have been out-executed, something that must change for the Tigers to have a chance Saturday in Columbia.
“We've gotten beaten four years in a row and nobody wants it to go to five,” Swinney said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “It's huge. It's huge for everybody. Everybody wants to win. Bad. But wanting it isn't going to get it done. But we have to be smart. Physical. We have to execute. We have to play our best game and that's where our focus is.”
Clemson will face its biggest challenge since the loss to Florida state, facing an experienced offense and a very talented defense.
The Gamecocks have two experienced quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, but it all starts with the offensive line – a group that is one of the best in the Steve Spurrier era.
“On their offensive line, they are big and strong and experienced group up front. Biggest we've faced,” Swinney said. “Their quarterbacks have played well all year. Both guys have a lot of experience. Dylan Thompson beat us last year and Connor Shaw has had a remarkable career. He's one of those guys not a lot of people talk about but he's a gritty player. His will to win is special. I have all the respect in the world for Connor Shaw and how he plays the game.”
At the skill positions, Mike Davis is one of the best running backs in the SEC and Bruce Ellington has wreaked havoc on just about every team he’s faced.
“They have outstanding skill. Two running backs are very good,” Swinney said. “Davis and Shon Carson. Physical runners who you can't arm tackle. You have to wrap up. They are both capable of making explosive plays. Very impressed with the year they've had running the football.
“On the outside, they have made critical plays at critical times in very close games. Ellington has a been a steady thorn to a lot of people. Has great instincts and makes key plays. Very good skill guys. Very impressed with their tight ends. They run a lot of verticals down the field, which puts a lot of stress on you. Our linebackers have to be able to run.”
Defensively every one knows Jadeveon Clowney and the defensive line, but sometimes forget about defensive backs Victory Hampton and Brison Williams
“Defensively, it starts with the guys up front. Very good defensive line and very deep,” Swinney said. “A lot of guys they roll in there. They are confident in all of those guys up front. Linebackers have gotten better as the year has gone on. Active group that plays physical. 27 [Hampton] is an outstanding player. 12 [Williams] is a leader. They manage their secondary.”
Swinney said the Tigers will have to limit turnovers in this weekend’s contest if they hope to leave Williams-Brice with a victory.
“Turnovers have been a thorn in our side in this game,” Swinney said. “We feel like we are playing our best football. And that's what it is going to take to get it done. They have the nation's longest winning streak at home at 17 games. Quarterback has never lost a game he's started at home.”
A victory Saturday would not only give the Tigers an edge in the rivalry, but also give the Tigers an 11-win season.
“Our focus is our finish. We've had a great year but this game plays a large role in that,” Swinney said. “We are 10-1 and have been consistently prepared. We've been almost perfect. Proud of that fact. But we want to finish. This is a game we all want to win. We all know what this game is about. But wanting to win doesn't get it done. We have to play great football and have make critical plays at critical times.”
On Swinney’s relationship with Steve Spurrier
“Coach Spurrier is only mean to me when he's not around me. I see him at several different things throughout the year. He's always very civil. His wife is always one of the kindest people you'll ever meet. Our wives like each other. They probably get mad at both of us. They swap gifts and all that kind of stuff. He's a competitive guy. I'm a competitive guy. He's got bragging rites. They've kicked our tail the last couple of years. He doesn't discriminate. It's just him having fun. I don't think he means anything personal.”
On the physicality of practice this week
“We are always [physical] in practice. Always. Last week was the first week all year I took the pads off on Wednesday. All year. Later in the season maybe I will cut a period out to get off the field a little sooner. But the structure of how we practice doesn't change. We do good on good. We don't do anything any different. We just have to play well on game day.”
Is South Carolina the difference between a good and great season?
“I think we've had a great year. But I want to see us play well. I want to see us play well. People don't like it when I say that. I don't focus on the scoreboard. I want to see how we play. If we play the right way the scoreboard takes care of itself. Don't get so caught up in the outcome that you aren't doing what it takes to win. I want to see us play well. As far as how people judge us, they are going to do that regardless. We can win Saturday and people will still complain that we lost one. We have a great opportunity coming up. We want to be the best we can be. The best we can be is 11-1.”
Swinney’s legacy at Clemson
“What I want my legacy to be at Clemson is that I did the best that I could. That I left this program better than I found it and that I did it the right way. That I impacted people's lives. All I can do is give credit to South Carolina. They've been the better team. They've coached better. They've been a very good football team that has beaten a lot of people. They've been better than us. That's my job and responsibility. Wish I could go and change it. It's not from a lack effort. That's for dang sure.”
“I don't know about that. He's [Mike] on his way to being. If he has the longevity he can be every bit as good [as James]. He's well on his way. Great already. He kind of came on the scene a little bit last year. He's really become the guy this year. James got off to a little better start as a freshman. We'll see how he finishes up but if he stays on the track he's on it will be interesting to see who has bragging rites later on.”
Defense holding up in big games
“How about those 10 wins we have? Were those big wins? I bet if we lost those they would all be big. LSU game last year wasn't big? Georgia game wasn't big to open the season. Everybody has their own deal. All I know is we are much much better. We are one of the best third down teams in the country. We are one of the top scoring defenses in the country. We weren't one of the best in any category last year. We were one of the worst. Are we one of the best defense in the country? Not yet. But we are on our way. Next year we will have a chance to take another step. Very pleased with the job our defensive coaches have done. It's not easy to do what we've done as a team.”