Dabo Swinney's Press Conference
By Roy Philpott
November 23, 2010
CLEMSON - Head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday night's game with archrival South Carolina.
Swinney: Appreciate y'all being here today. Excited about this week. This to me is what college football is all about to be able to participate in games like this as a player and a coach. It's one of the main reasons I got into coaching to be honest with you. Love to compete. Always have. Games like this what you dream about.
USC is a really good football team. They've had a great year. They won the SEC East for the first time. They are really playing well as a team. They are going to be a tough challenge for us. Last week, I told you Florida State was the best offense we've played. I'll say the same thing this week- this is the best offense we've played. These guys are more efficient. They present a lot of challenges. Bunch of formations. Not as many personnel groupings but a lot of formations. Biggest thing that's different about them is that they've been more balanced. That's helped them. They are 50 percent plus on third down. You talking about a very efficient offense. Garcia is top 10 in the nation in passing efficiency. They present a big challenge for whoever they line up and play.
They've got some special players. It's all about recruiting. Marcus Lattimore is a very very good player. Very good player. Good back. Guy we recruited very hard. Had a great rookie year for them. He's been the difference with 19 touchdowns. Garcia has played well. Alshon Jeffrey has had a great year. Then they have other guys- real good complimentary players you can't forget about. No. 81. No. 9 and No. 4. No. 10 is a good back. Tight end is a good solid player and their offensive line is playing well. Well coached. Very solid up front.
For us - we've got to win the line of scrimmage. Simple as that. Our front four has to be dominant. They've done that as of late. If you can make them one-dimensional you've got a chance. They love the deep ball - and we have to do a good job there. We obviously have to get after their quarterback and effect him.
Defensively, they are very talented. Very good. Multiple. Even fronts and odd fronts. Lot of different pressures. Their defensive line is very disruptive. These two tackles together are really really good. Defensive ends are active and long - tip a lot of balls. Florida must have had four or five balls (tipped). They do a lot of stemming- right before the snap they will move their fronts.
For us- last year against these guys we didn't take care of the football. Had we done that it would have been a different game. Don't know if we would have won or not but momentum is critical in a game like this. We have to take care of the ball and score some touchdowns.
Our offensive line will have to play well. They have all year. I think we match up well with these guys. Offensively, our best players have to play great games. Simple as that. If they do, and execute, we'll have a chance to move the ball.
Special teams- we have to take pride and do our job. Whether it's a return or a block. Injury-wise- y'all all know about Terrance Ashe. Miguel Chavis will hopefully do some more today. Still day-to-day. A little more encouraged with Ellington last night then I was last week. Ellington looks like he's going to be a game time decision. I thought by today I would know if he was out. Looks like he will practice today and we'll see how he responds to pads. If he continues down the track he's on right now he'll be a game time decision.
Last year your team had the playmakers now it's them.
Swinney: They are a good football team. They won the east. everybody talks about the east isn't very good but people don't understand that's not easy. It ain't easy to win. Like last year we went and won it and it wasn't easy to do. For them to go to 5-3 record in their conference which is a good record for them - my hat is off to them. They got it done.
Last year your team won the side of the conference now this year they have. Was your team ready to play for that game now that you can look back on it?
Swinney: We had a great week of practice. Put everything we had into that game. Just turned it over. Just didn't do the things we needed to do to win. Just like at Alabama when we won the division five or six times while I was there and we played with Auburn the week before we would play Florida in the SEC Championship game. That's just the way it is.
What's unique about a rivalry like this?
Swinney: It's everybody's back yard. Most of the players know each other. They see each other all year. You are in the same state with the same resources. It's the game in the state everybody cares about. Win or lose when you go to the grocery store- you hear about it. When you go to church you hear about it. It's all year long. They aren't sitting around talking about the Tennessee game.
What do you hear about this rivalry during the offseason?
Swinney: It sure makes for a better offseason when you win it. I've been in a bunch of these. 13 at Alabama. eight or nine (here). Fortunately I've won more than I lost. But had some tough ones. Last year was a very disappointing loss. We lost won one year on a field goal here. These players really have a lot of respect for each other. They are competitors. They are going to line up and compete and when the game is over shake each other's hands. Things spill over outside the stadium but the players have a genuine respect for each other and it was like that when I was at Alabama.
Dabo Swinney said Tuesday Andre Ellington would likely be a game-time decision against South Carolina. (Roy Philpott)
What's your advice to Billy Napier in talking to Furman?
Swinney: Well, right now, the advice is nothing. We aren't even going to talk about that. We'll talk on Sunday. It's an honor when you get a call from an AD about one of your coaches. That's a different career path. Things we'll have to discuss. I think it will be a pretty quick decision one way or another. Billy is a very good football coach and that's his alma mater.
Is he too young to be a head coach?
Swinney: That's for other people to decide. Coach Ford wasn't too young to be the coach here. There probably was a lot of people who thought he was. Right and wrong doesn't know you. Either you can do the job or not. I have full confidence he could do a great job. No doubt.
Coach Spurrier said some nice things about you after the game last year. Have you gotten to know him better since then?
Swinney: Yeah. I have gotten to know him more. We've crossed paths a ton since 1988. With him being a coach and then with me playing and then coaching against him. We won a couple and lost a few. Some heartbreakers. 1994 we lost by one point. We were 12-1. Then we lost at 10-3 in 1996. But then in 1999 we beat them twice. Once at The Swamp. I've always had a lot of respect for him as a coach. He's won a ton of games. Always liked their style of play. He's been good to me. We've spent more time together. Much more serious golfer than me. He's been good. He's called me a couple of times this year. We've spent some time doing some charity things together. I congratulated him when he won the division.
What did y'all talk about?
Swinney: I can't tell you that.
How has Spurrier's philosophy changed since he's been at Florida?
Swinney: They are doing a lot of the same things. It's amazing to me. Screens, draws, curl flats. They've been doing that since 1988. They run the zone. He's been running the ball more.
What do you think about Steve Spurrier the strategist?
Swinney: He keep things pretty simple because it comes down to matchups. He's all about matchups and they've got some pretty good players down there now thanks to recruiting. It's all about recruiting. I know we were a lot better last year when it comes to coaching. And we'll be better when we get some more guys in here.
What is so good about Marcus Lattimore?
Swinney: He's a good kid first of all. Football is important to him and he works hard at it. He's a winner. Comes from a winning program. Football-wise it's his vision. He's got excellent vision. They pretty much run the zone every which way but loose. He's outstanding at being able to jump cut a whole hole. If you are a linebacker trying to play over the top, he sees it. And good toughness. He's broken tough runs this year. He's got a little bit of James Davis in him because he has great vision. But Marcus is a little faster. He's also a great receiver- which is similar to C.J. [Spiller]. They do a good job of involving him in the passing game.
What about Jamie Harper and the depth he's been able to provide at running back with Ellington out?
Swinney: It's good to have some depth. Different kind of player. What can you say about Jamie Harper. You couldn't ask for anything else from this guy. Last three weeks. What he did in Tallahassee and up at Wake he was the best guy out there. Hard to tackle. Playing with a lot of confidence. I'm sure Coach Johnson over there isn't excited about covering No. 8. He can make you miss. He's physical. He's a good football player. Not quite as explosive as Andre. None the less a really good package. Typical NFL kind of back. He'll play a long time on Sundays if his body holds up.
Do you have any idea of what kind of role Ellington would have if he was able to go?
Swinney: We would just kind of manage it. We really haven't rested Jamie a whole lot. It would be nice to see how Andre does. He'd have to get a shot on game day and would probably feel pretty good. We'll have to gauge that on game day. It would be great to mix him in some key situations.