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March 24, 2010

Swinney still confident No. 11 plays this fall

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Following Wednesday's practice Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney met with members of the media. The following is an edited transcript of that meeting.

Q. Talk about what you saw in the scrimmage today.

Dabo. "Today was about trying to create a bunch of situations that as we've studied with our quality control we felt like was relevant to having a good season or bad things that might happen along the way. It's all about building towards Saturday. You just get out of the way and let them play. We worked a plus-minus four contest. Six plays and if it was tied, you had a tiebreaker. Then we came back and worked a first down series, which is really good. We worked a third and long. We worked a third down and three and it's two-down territory all the way. You stop them, you win. We just tried to create situations.

"We wanted to make sure we hit all the areas. When you just go scrimmage, you may not get everything you need. I saw a lot of good flashes today. I thought the wideouts really made some plays. Kyle Parker, he's a cool customer. He just came out and had a great practice today. Tajh is getting better and better. I'm pleased with our backs.

"Defensively, again, when we're getting our hands on the ball, we're catching it. We had a couple of tipped balls that led to picks today. So we did a lot of good things. The first group on offense and defense, there's some separation right now, so we've got to get our second groups up to speed more. Because we want to be able to play more guys.

"I'm a little disappointed in some things, because we want to be a smarter football team. That's going to be critical for us to have the kind of year we want to have. We should be smarter and we have to be smarter. We have to eliminate the things that beat us… like missed tackles, missed assignments, dropped balls, jumping off-sides three times, somebody not lining up on the line, or it's third and four and someone is off-sides. Those are things that beat you. We have to continue to work on eliminating those things as a team.

"But a good day. Again, I'm pleased with the spirit of the team. I'm excited about coming out Friday. We've got our coaches clinic. Coach (Bill) Oliver is here now. Coach Phil Fulmer is coming in. Coach Mickey Andrews is coming in. It's going to be a great weekend. Friday will be a high fundamental type practice. Saturday will be the first full scrimmage. I'm anxious to see everyone get on the field and let's go play and react to whatever situation comes up."

Q. You talked about separation with your first and second-team defense. Can you be more specific about which areas have the biggest drop-offs?

Dabo. "There are certain areas where that's the case. I'm talking about as a whole, as a unit, we have to get up to speed. There are certain areas where you can't tell a difference. Our defensive line (is one of them). But that's how we play. That's how we want to play. We roll those guys four plays. We roll them because they're good enough and they deserve to play. All those guys have started at that defensive tackle and defensive end position. We still have to get Kourtnei Brown up to speed. Our defensive line is going to be in good shape."

Q. Talk about what you like now at receiver. You've mentioned them a couple of times now this week. Who's got your attention there now?

Dabo. "All seven of those guys have competed very well. They were not making a lot of mistakes. They're really executing properly. Brandon Clear had an excellent day today. Jaron Brown just continues to progress. You come out to practice and you don't notice him, you need to take your glasses off. He just jumps out. Bryce is just still processing info. He'll make a play and then he'll drop a ball. That's a product of him not being fully focused. Dye had a good day today and made some nice plays. Marquan continues to keep his arrow going up. Brandon Ford has had a good spring. All those guys have done well. Terrance Ashe is just as steady as they come. It's a solid group but right now I'd say Jaron, Marquan and Clear and Dye… they stood out the most."

Q. Is that the group, the foursome, that you need to really step up in order to have a lot of success there this fall?

Dabo. "Well yeah, absolutely. Last year it was about our offensive line. I feel like we have a group there that has proven that they can win at a high level. Yeah, our wideouts are going to have a lot of eyes on them. But I'm confident in them. I'm excited about them. Just as I sat here this time last year and was excited about safety. Yeah… we had some guys who had to go prove it. But yes, I have all the confidence in the world in the guys we have on campus now and the guys that are coming in here. We're going to have an excellent group of wideouts that are going to pose a threat."

Q. Any question in your mind that No. 11 is going to be on the field for you in 2010?

Dabo. "Not really. Not really. I mean anything is possible but again, I'd be shocked if he's not out there. Who knows, but I know he's having fun. He has a great ole time. He looks like a guy who's excited about playing a little football to me when I watch him."

Q. Do you worry a little when he's on the diamond and goes in head first on a slide?

Dabo. "No. Heck no. You can't worry about that. You just have to play. Just play. I don't really worry about that stuff. You worry about all that, you'll go crazy. I'd be a nervous wreck. Just play."

Q. What does it say that he's climbed the charts this fast in homers in two and a half years?

Dabo. "Hey… I've got a (Tim) Bourret-ism for you. And it's not official yet. We're still trying to research it, but preliminary reports are let's say he hits 15 homers. He'll be the first football-baseball dual athlete to throw for 20 or more TDs and hit for 15 or more homers in a season. John Elway is out. Weinke is out. Drew Henson is out. The preliminary return is that he'll be the first ever to do that."

Q. With Kyle gone the next few days with the baseball team, talk about Tajh and his opportunity to run the show with the first-team.

Dabo. "This has been the first time that Tajh has had Kyle here two days in a row. It makes a big difference for him. He's got a lot on him right now, then you throw him out there with the first group. You have veteran guys all over the place and he's trying to be in that leadership role, yet he's still figuring it all out. But he's really handled it well. It's helped him tremendously when Kyle has been here, because he can see it and really visualize it. He's had two good days. Hopefully Friday he'll be ready for the big stage. There will be a lot of eyes on him Friday and Saturday. But that's part of it. It's a good opportunity for him."

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