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November 18, 2012

Sunday teleconference notes

CLEMSON -- Sunday evening Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney addressed members of the media as part of his weekly teleconference, this time to look back on his team's 62-48 win over N.C. State and also to look ahead to next weekend's season-finale versus rival South Carolina. The following is an edited transcript of Sunday's teleconference.

Opening statements. "Wild and wacky game last night. All wins are great wins in my vision. Just proud of our guys. The big thing is we responded to adversity last night. You're up quick and then you're down 24-13. I just liked how they responded and I liked how the staff responded. A lot of things were accomplished.

"Offensively, 754 yards and there were a lot of good things. The offensive line did outstanding. The big penalty was a 50-yard run called back. We had some drops which were disappointing. We still haven't played our best game. We have a lot to challenge them with this week.

"Defensively, it was a poor first half. They had four, one-play touchdowns. That was 28 points. But I thought we really came back and played better in the second half. The interception, we gave them a short field. Sacks were big and the stops on fourth down were big. We created turnovers and competed with great effort all night long. We blocked another kick and Catman kicked two more field goals. Our kickoff coverage was poor.

"We're still improving. We've got another opportunity this week. We've got to put it all together. This is an outstanding team we're getting ready to play. We'll have to execute at a high level for four quarters to win the game. I look forward to diving into the film here tonight. It's a great opportunity for us. I'm proud of our team.

"Injury-wise, the only one I'd say is doubtful is Bashaud Breeland. Beasley and Brewer were players of the game on defense. Tajh and Andre on offense."

Question. Talk about the role Brandon Ford has played this year after losing someone like Dwayne Allen?

Swinney. "That's what you want to have in your program as you graduate great players. He's stepped up. In fact yesterday I felt it was his best game of the year. He's improved so much with his blocking. He's a very smart player. He's helped his team a ton. I think he's proven he can play after Clemson. I'm pleased with the job he's done all year."

Question. How do you feel like Brandon Thomas has played the last month?

Swinney. "He's had a good year. He really has. He was kind of up and down for a little while, but the last few weeks he's put it together. He's played outstanding football. He's played a lot of snaps and has not had many mental errors. Our o-line as a whole has had its best couple of ballgames here - Duke, Maryland and N.C. State. They've played well as a unit and that's been a good thing to see them put it together as a group. The last two games we've played the team that's led the league in sacks and we've given up zero. Just proud of that group and the pride that they've taken to get better. The leadership of Dalton Freeman has been awesome. Robbie Caldwell has done a fantastic job of preparing them every week."

Question. What have you seen of South Carolina this year?

Swinney. "Same old South Carolina ... what we've seen the last several years. It's a very talented group. It's as good a team as we've played. They're right there for sure with Florida State. Their defense is outstanding, just lights out with the type of personnel they have. They create a lot of pressure. A lot of the same guys are back from last year. Their quarterback really killed us last year. They've got some playmakers outside. We're just getting into studying them personnel-wise. They're outstanding in the return game. The way we covered last night, that's a concern. We'll have to execute consistently for four quarters. We've got our hands full."

Question. How important is it that the line is performing well given that you'll face one of the better defensive fronts in the country?

Swinney. "I'm encouraged that our guys have performed well throughout the year. We've had some spots where we were inconsistent as a group. Listen, this is a tough matchup regardless of how you play. You won't go against a better group in the country than what we're going to see. You want to play against the best and they present that challenge. We'll find out with how our guys respond to it. It'll take a great effort on our part."

Question. Is this the healthiest you've been for this game since you've been here?

Swinney. "I don't really know, to be honest with you. I'd have to think back to last year. Everybody has bumps and bruises. But we're pretty healthy. We've got a lot of guys who have aches and pains, but as a group we've been pretty blessed there. We've had some guys miss some time here or there. For 11 ballgames in, we're in good shape."

Question. Do you think both programs being ranked will become a common occurrence with the way recruiting is going with both programs?

Swinney. "If both schools continue to recruit well, then I would say that's a strong possibility. Time will tell."

Question. You and Steve Spurrier have had words back and forth the last few years. Do you enjoy that?

Swinney. "Whenever I'm around him, our relationship has always been very cordial. I have a lot of respect for him. But it's not about me or coach Spurrier It's about the guys playing the game and that's where we need to focus."

*** To chat with other Clemson fans about this article please visit The West Zone message board.

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