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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 3, 2014


Dabo Swinney


COACH SWINNEY:  I look forward to getting back on the field this weekend.  It's our home opener, so it's a great opportunity for us to play in front of our home folks, playing South Carolina State, and they had an excellent year last year, got a lot of guys back, and really just looking forward to seeing our team correct some of the mistakes and really grow from last week's very valuable experience for us.

Q.  What did you learn as you guys tried to move past that and look ahead to this week?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, first of all, we're good enough.  We've got a talented team.  I mean, we're good enough to win in any environment against any team out there, I really believe that.
I was very encouraged by a lot of things that I saw.  The score in the end wasn't indicative of the game but I think we learned a lot about the team.  We certainly didn't deserve to win but for an opening game, openers are tough and they are really, really tough when you play very good people, especially at their place.
But I think that the mistakes that we made are very correctible.  I think seeing our quarterback go out and perform like he did, it was very encouraging.  I saw some very positive things in our offensive line.  Same thing defensively.  We played very well for three quarters.  Did not put it all together in that fourth quarter, that's for sure.
And then a guy like T.J. Green and our special teams, our return game, I was very encouraged with him.  And again, the mistakes that we made, there's nothing that's not correctible, and nothing that I came away from the game saying, oh, boy, we got major problems.
Bottom line is, we got beat by a really good team at their place in a tough opening situation.  But that's okay.  I mean, hey, we are going to play games like that, and there's always going to be a winner or a loser.  It's one game; we've got a lot more opportunities, and if we grow and learn from that game, I think we have a chance to be a really good football team.
But the biggest thing is, you think you're good enough, but until you really see yourself line up and play‑‑ I know that we are good enough to be the type of team that I expect us to be.

Q.  Curious about the circumstances Deshaun Watson got in the game, was that a planned thing, and what's his prospects going forward?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, it was very much a plan.  It was something we talked about all week leading up to the game.  He was definitely a guy that we were going to get in there.  He came in the fourth series, did a great job, a really good job.  Took us down and we scored and then he got a couple more series in the game.
Cole really played well.  He had about two or three plays he'd like to have back, but I really, really like how he led our team and the decisions that he made.  Had some missed opportunities where he had some drops where he absolutely threw a beautiful ball and made the right decision, so those are things we have to get corrected.  Really encouraged.
And Deshaun Watson is a guy that he just is very gifted and he's just going to continue to get better.  He's a guy we'll continue to have in the mix but Cole Stoudt is our definite starter.  Not a question of that at all, but we don't have anybody with experience behind him and we're building for this year and for our future; and making sure that Deshaun gets some opportunity, as well, as long as he plays well.  If he goes in there and he's stinking it up, then those opportunities will be fewer.  But as long as he performs well, he'll continue to get some opportunity.

Q.¬† In‑state games, is it good for your program to see teams coming to Memorial Stadium?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, I think so, first one, home opener, always exciting.  This is a neat place here in Clemson.  You have the stadium right in the middle of this little town and it's open for business seven times a year.  So regardless of who you play, it's always a special day for the Clemson family.
I do think it's good.¬† We try to play these games, play one of them a year from an in‑state opponent.¬† I think it's great that we keep the money in the state and we're able to help a team like South Carolina State financially.¬† I think it's great for those guys.¬† They get a shot to go to the big boys and play at the highest level.¬† You look last year, there was eight, nine, ten, I‑AA teams that won games against Division I opponents.
So for us, every week it's the biggest game, and we have to have that mentality, doesn't matter who you play.  I expect our guys to really bounce back strong.  I'll be very much in tune to how we correct some of the mistakes that we made in that first game.
A lot of times you make some of your best improvement your first couple weeks, because all you've done is practice and then you finally get to play a game.  So we have got a lot of things we have to improve upon and that's what I'm looking for.  It's about Clemson, but I do think it's a good opportunity for the people in our state and for South Carolina State for this game to take place.

Q.  How is the maturity of your quarterback after the tough loss to Georgia?
COACH SWINNEY:  Next game.  He's great.  Just what you expect your leader to be like.  It's one game.  Heck, if you go and pout after one game, you're going to be in for a long, long career and a long season.
But Cole Stoudt has been around here, been through a lot of battles and very mature young man.¬† He's done a great job.¬† And again, he played very well, he really did.¬† He played very, very well in a very tough opening environment for a first‑time starter.¬† I was very pleased with him.
So he's encouraged.  He's excited about getting back out on the field and trying to lead his team to victory.  That's all he's worried about.

Q.  For the second year in a row playing Georgia, wanted to ask you your impressions of Leonard Floyd, No. 84, how they utilized him and the pressures they brought.
COACH SWINNEY:  I thought they did a really nice job.  He's a really talented player and they did a nice job with some of their pressure packages in coverage and stuff.  He's a dynamic guy.  I mean, they are going to drive him in coverage and bring him off the edge and bring him inside.  He's a very good player.
I thought that‑‑ I think Georgia is a very good team.¬† I thought when we played them last year, I thought it was, you know, at that time, maybe the best team we played all year, the team that we played.
Obviously they lost a ton of guys injury‑wise and really for them to go on and win eight or nine games, whatever it is they won, was pretty incredible for the amount of guys that they lost.¬† I was very impressed, offensively, that is their strength and they are really, really good.
But defensively, I think they have got some dynamic guys and Coach Pruitt and his staff did an excellent job of getting them ready and I think they are going to win a bunch of ballgames this year.

Q.  Wanted to ask you about the running game with Davidson and Howard, not a ton of yards on their side but both got in the end zone.  What did you take away from how they played the first game and what you see going forward?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† They did a good job.¬† We really ran the ball up‑and‑down the field the first half.¬† We were pretty encouraged.¬† In fact, I think going into the fourth quarter, even with our mistakes in the third quarter, we still had more rushing than Georgia did at the start of the fourth quarter.¬† But the first half, just very encouraged by how we executed the running game.¬† That was a big emphasis for us.
All of a sudden in the second half, and they really didn't do anything different.¬† We just started and we just had a rash of just mental errors and missed assignments and really affected everything.¬† We'd be second and five, have a missed assignment and then it's third‑and‑long, and then field position was difficult.
But just from a player evaluation standpoint, I thought D.J. did a nice job for us and C.J. was probably the most productive and we got Godwin a little bit in there and see how he responded.  Just weren't quite ready to throw him out there as the game progressed.
But Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice are two guys you're going to see a lot more of as we move forward.  But I think all four of those guys are going to be quality guys for us this year and guys that we're going to need to get production from each and every week.

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