Swinney says win over LSU "next step" in evolution of becoming an elite program

by - Senior Writer -

ATLANTA, GA – Sunday’s final press conference before Monday’s Chick-fil-A Bowl featured Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
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and LSU head coach Les Miles, and it was less about X’s and O’s and more about the state of the teams and a session of mutual respect accolades between the two coaches.

However, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney did say during the press conference that when he looks at LSU, he sees a program that has the consistency he wants for Clemson.

“This has not been the norm for us and we are trying to make it the norm to where we are in this situation every year,” Swinney said. “Like LSU has been. LSU has been a program that's won, 10, 11, 12, 13 games pretty regularly under Coach Miles. So again they are a national-championship caliber team and we are not quite there yet. But we have made great progress: Back-to-back ten-win seasons and for the first time since the 80s and we won ten regular season games this year for the first time in 31 years.”

Swinney said the Tigers are close, but need to take the next step, and a win over LSU would be a crucial next step in the evolution of the program.

“So I think you've got to at least acknowledge that we are making some progress,” he said. “We are a Top 15 team. If we are going to be a Top-10 team, you have to step up and win games like this at some point. And our two losses this year were to top-10 teams, competed hard. Just didn't get it done.”

Swinney said a win over LSU would be a “great finish” to what would then be an 11-win season.

“But again, to be in a situation where we have a chance an 11th game, something that has not happened in our history very often, is a great compliment to our team and our staff, because again, we have made steady progress,” he said. “It would be huge for us. It would be a great ending to an already very good season, a great finish. But you know, that's easier said than done. We know that LSU is who they are because of their consistency in play regardless of who they play, where they play, and we'll have to play very well.”

Swinney was asked about LSU’s physical style of play, and he defended his team as being physical and said teams don’t have to run the I-formation in order to be physical.

“I don't subscribe to the theory that you have to line up in I-formation to be physical. I don't think that's the case as all,” he said. “We pride ourselves on being a physical football team. There are lots of different styles of play in college football, and I think that's what makes college football so much fun. It's not a cookie cutter product. You have all kind of varieties out there and it's made this game very popular and exciting. I think at end of the day, you have to do what gives your team the best chance to win, ultimately. That may be different depending on where you are and what your personnel is and your resources and all those things.

“You know, I'm very confident in our style of play of how we play the game, and we have been successful -- in preparing for any opponent, we try to present the challenges for your team that they
are going to see on game day. If you are going to play a spread team, a true spread team; we kind of get lumped into that, we are not really a huge spread team. But if you are going to play that type of team, then you have to present that and the challenges that come with that. If you play a triple-option team, you have to present that. It's difficult to prepare for. If you're going to play a team like LSU that has a physical style of play that you don't see every week, you've got to prepare for that.”

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