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November 13, 2012
Opening statement. "Really tough challenge this week. N.C. State is a talented team. This is a very dangerous team, especially from an athletic standpoint. It starts with their quarterback. He's a very, very good football player and a very capable passer. He can make every throw. He's a gutsy player and obviously he's a fifth-year senior with a lot of experience and knowledge. It starts with him. They want to throw the football. He can do it. He's got 22 touchdown passes. They've good backs and capable receivers. I think Underwood has 10 touchdowns. Their o-line is huge. They have a lot of size. They also do a great job with their tight ends. You better know where they are. They want to be a rhythm team. We will have to tackle very well and try to create some turnovers.
"Defensively, probably as good as anybody we've played athletically, especially up front. They're big across the board. They're talented. They lead the ACC in sacks. They have the No. 2 scoring defense in the league. I thought their secondary outplayed us. Their back, Amerson, is as good a player as you'll see in the country. They've got two big corners. We'll have our hands full with those guys.
"Our focus is on us as it has been all year. We just continue to work through our formula for success. There is still a lot of opportunity for this football team. We've got to finish better than we did last year. It's an opportunity to share the Atlantic Division title this week. To be able to do that three out of four years is a great accomplishment and a step forward to the kind of consistency we want to have. I like where we are right now. I like their demeanor. We have to continue to stay focused."
Question. They really like to spread the ball around. Does that mean different personnel sets for you?
Swinney. "Not really. They don't change a lot from week to week. They believe in what they do. They're mostly 11-personnel. They've played Wake Forest and got in the I. They felt like they had some good matchups there. We may see some 21-personnel. Mostly they've been an 11-personnel team. They want to put the ball in this quarterback's hands. And I don't blame them."
Question. Any questions about Sammy's health?
Swinney. "Nope. He's going to be alright. He practiced yesterday. He's played 10 ballgames. Hot Rod was more limited yesterday than anybody. He will be back today. He did the least. The plan today is to put him back in green."
Question. Is Martavis getting the ball more because he's healthy now or is the game coming to him?
Swinney. "Combination. He missed some time and it set him back. Mostly trust. He's earned some more trust with the coaches. He's been more consistent with his preparation and his commitment. He's as talented as anybody we've got. Guys get better. It's like Shuey. He's worked his butt off and guys get better. They should be better as a junior and senior than they were as a freshman and a sophomore. For some reason, when a guy isn't a great player as a freshman, the idea is we missed on him. That's not it. Some guys you have to coach more, you have to discipline more. We've all seen guys who weren't very good as freshmen and sophomores but turned out to be great seniors. Andre Branch wasn't very good as a red-shirt freshman or a sophomore and he developed into a second-round draft pick. Martavis ... it's not talent. It's just consistency and focusing on the right things."
Question. You talk about playing to a standard. Do you fear complacency could set in?
Swinney. "No. It would have to set in quick. We're about to be done. I think if they were going to get complacent, they already would have. This team has learned how to be consistent. Last year's team had 42 freshmen. This team has learned how to win football games. This team, through all that process, has learned how to handle success. They've learned what it takes to be a consistent team. They've bought into those things. We've tried to keep a focus on Clemson. We feel like we've got good players here. If we execute our plan to win, we feel like we've got a good shot. We have a level of play that we expect. It's a competition to try to be the best we can be. We're playing pretty good football defensively. We were a leaking dam earlier in the season."
Question. What do you point to in terms of improvement up front defensively?
Swinney. "Just improvement. We are so much better fundamentally and technically. We've developed quality depth. Guys understand our system. They just play faster. They're more confident and have more energy. We had two mental errors in this last game. And that is outstanding. That's impressive. It's the knowledge and understanding of what we're doing."
Queston. The o-line was a big question mark coming into the season but they've played a lot better than a lot of folks anticipated. Did you see that coming on in the off-season?
Swinney. "I was pretty worried. I was pretty concerned. Any time you have two starters back, you're pretty concerned. I'm proud of those guys. They just went into camp and competed their tails off and won jobs. At some point you have to go play. When we came out of that Auburn game, we're like, 'OK, we've got a chance. We've got something to work with. We finally saw them work against somebody else. I think Kalon is another one who has improved. Ryan Norton has performed very well for a freshman. Battle continues to come on, Gore and Shaq and Reid, all those guys. This has been a really good year from an offensive line standpoint. We call those guys the union. We haven't always been together like a union. It's been three out of five or two out of five. We want to consistently finish very well as a union."
Question. Is it the receiver that makes the quarterback or the quarterback that makes the receiver?
Swinney. "It's both, but it's the o-line that makes both. You better have some guys up front that like to run and can move the chains. If you don't, you're in trouble. I do think the quarterback is the most important position in the game of football. You're usually not very good if you don't have a quarterback. Tajh Boyd is a great player. Look at great teams, most have a great quarterback. Look at the NFL. It's why they pay them a lot of money. It starts with the QB. You can't just line up the village idiot out there."
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