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November 6, 2012
CLEMSON -- Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney met with members of the media Tuesday as part of his weekly news conference, this time previewing his team's upcoming matchup with Maryland. The following is an edited transcript of that presser.
Opening statement. "Good to get back home. Looking forward to getting back in the valley this week but I'm proud of our team with how they played on the road this year. Our mentality this week is exactly the same and that is it is the biggest game of the year. The formula is the same. We have to continue to prepare with purpose and effort. These guys have done a good job of buying into that.
"Offensively they've suffered a lot of injuries, but I was impressed with what they did in a few days. They had a good plan and I expect them to be even better this week now that they've had two weeks to get No. 31 ready to go. They've run a lot of speed option, screens and taken some shots. They'll do some things that cause problems. We'll have to play a smart defensive football game. There will be some unknowns going into this game. Their line is very solid. They've got good wideouts and good backs. They've got a good tight end who's hurt us every year.
"Defensively, probably as good as we've played. They have a new coordinator. They're 11th in the nation in total defense. They lead the league in sacks. They're good up front. Vellano, I can't believe he's still there. He's been there like 10 years. He's got a high, high motor and plays the game like you want it to be played. He leads the league in tackles for loss. It's no different this year. Just a productive group up front. They're very active at linebacker. They're mostly a three-down type of defense. They're very good in the secondary. They're big in the secondary and they run well. Special teams has been a big part of this game. Look back at last year. It was a big factor.
"The thing for us is to continue to improve and continue to learn to be consistent performers. I think we'll have a special opportunity this week to set the home winning record. It would be a great record to be a part of. I'm proud of the consistency we're able to play with at home and a big part of that is with our fans. The life has come back into our stadium. I think back to win after win after win and the crowd has been awesome. I'm hopeful we'll have another great crowd this week. I look forward to this week every year, driving through campus and seeing the students work. I love that every single year. I look forward to visiting with the students building floats. We need that stadium rocking."
Question. Talk about their quarterback situation. How do you try to scheme against them?
Swinney. "We'll have to be smart and do a good job of applying our system. We'll see some different things. They did a lot of things against Georgia Tech. They ran a lot of zone read and Utah and play action. He was kind of feeling his way through a little bit. He's capable. He's very capable. He made a few nice throws. You're talking about a freshman getting ready to play in three days. I was personally very impressed with the coordination of it. They had motions, timing and snap count. That's not easy to do. I think they'll be better this week with another week to kind of get him ready to perform. They've got good people. They have plenty of guys who are capable of hurting you. But we're not going to see something we haven't seen along the way unless they just completely change."
Question. Is Ellington on pace to return?
Swinney. "He is on pace to return. We expect him to do more today. He felt good this morning but we're not going to force him into action. If he's ready to play, he'll play. If not, we'll go with those other guys. Those guys are more than capable of playing winning football for us. I expect he will be ready to go."
Question. What do you think the theory is with defenses playing so much man?
Swinney. "I guess just trying to force the action a little bit. Our ability to run the ball a little bit has helped us in that regard. That's just what they do. People are who they are. They aren't going to just change from week to week. Ultimately it comes down to winning matchups and we felt like going into the game last week there would be some opportunities presented. If we hit on them, we could have some big plays. Our guys just made plays on their guys. A couple of times they had good position but we won the matchups."
Question. Clemson and Florida State are a combined 16-2 and the rest of the division is 16-20. Is that a product of recruiting?
Swinney. "I know FSU has recruited well. I know we have. I'm just focused on Clemson. I'm just trying to build this into the best program we can be and compete in this conference. Everybody else has to figure out those issues themselves. The league has kind of beat each other up. There has been a lot of back and forth within the league. Look at what happened at NC State last week. You have to come ready to play. If not, you get beat."
Question. Have you thought about the realm of emotion of how things could change if Va. Tech wins?
Swinney. "We don't control that. We really haven't gotten emotional about things we don't control. When you get emotional about it, that's when you can have issues. We preach focus on the things you can control. External issues are distractions. It's our daily preparation. It's our execution, our performance. It's what our guys are focused on."
Question. Tajh said the other day that with winning now, style points might be necessary. Is there some sense that you have to punish people?
Swinney. "It's November. You're coming to the end of the race here and you want to be playing your best football. You don't want to stumble to the finish line. You don't want to stumble in November. You want to play well. You don't want to be sloppy. We were 8-1 but then we went 1-2 and didn't play well. We were sloppy and had turnovers and gave up big plays. This year we've improved along the way and we want to keep that trend going. We just want to play good football."
Question. ESPN Game Day, in order to promote their show, they do promos with college coaches. I'm wondering have they approached you about doing a commerical with them? Is that an advantage for other coaches?
Swinney. "I think it's good exposure for them. Any time you can get exposure for your team, you take advantage of that. I think the best exposure is winning. No, I haven't gotten any calls."
Question. Talk about the job Spencer Shuey is doing for you.
Swinney. "He's playing great. He really is. He's fast, physical and knows what we're doing. He's brought a lot of energy."
Question. Talk about what Nuk has accomplished. `
Swinney. "If you go back and track Nuk Hopkins' career from Central Rec to Edwards Middle to Daniel High to now, it's the exact same story. He's been very consistent his entire life. He's made the adjustment every level he's been. He's made it mentally and physically. He's such a great competitor. He just loves to play. He loves to practice and loves to catch and win. He's very unselfish. He doesn't say a whole lot. He just has a ton of confidence. I'm proud of the season he's having and the career he's put together. All the records and awards, they're well-deserved."
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