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CLEMSON UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 16, 2014


Dabo Swinney


COACH SWINNEY:  Excited, first of all, just to get back at it this week.  You know, it's not often that you have an open date this early in the season, but that's just kind of how it fell for us this year.  But really excited to kind of get back in the game, if you will.  Didn't like being on the sidelines this past week.  Obviously, a huge challenge for us as we head down to Tallahassee to take on the No. 1 team in all the land.  But it's also a great opportunity for our guys, a great opportunity for them to go compete with the best team in the country.  A great opportunity to go compete on the road again and see if we can show some improvement from the last time we were out on the road.  I don't think we've got to play perfect, but we're going to have to play well to have a chance down there, that's for sure.
Offensively, when you look at Florida State, this is a team that we know a whole lot about and they know a lot about us.  It's not just a conference game, but it's a division game and it's been a huge game for many, many years.  It's a fun game to be a part of.  When you look at them offensively, I think they do a great job of being balanced.  That is something they're very committed to, and because of that, they create a lot of explosive plays.  They're going to run the ball in play action off of that run and try to do a good job of protecting their quarterback that way.
Their offensive line is as good as there is out there.¬† All seniors, very athletic, very experienced.¬† They've all got a bunch of starts under their belt.¬† They only lost one guy from last year, and that was their center.¬† Their center has played a ton and has several starts under his belt too.¬† So this is a really, really good match‑up if you just want to have some fun watching their offensive line and our defensive line.¬† I think that's a great match‑up and one that I'm looking forward to seeing.
Obviously, their quarterback is the Heisman guy.  He is a great player.  I mean, he is a great player.  He really doesn't have any weaknesses.  He's big, he's strong, he runs very effectively, and he made just an incredible run for a touchdown against Oklahoma State.  He hurdled his own guy.  I mean, so I don't think he gets enough credit for being able to be effective with his legs, but he's very, very capable of hurting you both with his arm and his legs.  He's very smart too.  He's got great instincts and a great feel for the game.  He does an excellent job of taking care of the football and putting his team in position to be successful.  So we've got our hands full with that guy.
Their tight end is an All American.  Really hurt us last year.  I mean, this is a great football player.  They do a good job of involving him in a lot of different ways in the passing game, the screen game, running game.  They'll play three running backs, all of them are dangerous.
Williams, No. 9 is their big back.¬† I mean, he's a 230‑pound guy that can get downhill on you, and he can run away from you.¬† So we've seen him and know a lot about him.¬† Very, very good player,¬† future NFL guy, for sure.¬† Then they've got two young guys behind him that are explosive and fast and, again, they'll do a good job of playing all of them and trying to keep them fresh.¬† Their receiver, same thing.
Got about eight guys, and they can all play.¬† They've got a few freshmen kind of mixed in there as back‑ups that are very talented.¬† But it all starts with No. 80 for them.¬† He is a great football player.¬† He really is.¬† When you think about what he has done in his career, nobody really talks about Greene quite as much as some of the other guys that have come through there.¬† But he's got a chance to set every record that they have down there from a receiving standpoint, and there have been some great, great wideouts that have played at Florida State.¬† He is a very smart, crafty player that has that great, short area quickness, but the ability to run away from you too, tough‑handed guy, got a lot of respect for him.¬† All those guys, 8, and 89, veteran guys for them, and good depth at that position.
Defensively, it's another great group.¬† They're big up front.¬† Really, really big.¬† They're in and out of their three and four‑man‑type, four‑down‑type stuff. ¬†They do a good job of stemming and moving.¬† They do a good job of playing at the point of attack.¬† They'll do some two‑gap stuff, but just big, strong, physical guys up front is where it starts for them, trying to allow those backers to have some ability to run.
Excellent at linebacker.  Got a bunch of guys that started for them back, and I think at least seven guys that have starts under their belt.  This is as good a secondary as we'll see all year.  Really, really talented group, deep group.  They'll be in their nickel and dime stuff, and they just roll them in there.
So all these guys played against us last year, so we're very familiar with who they are and I've got great respect for them.
Special teams, dangerous group.  This is a group that's got the Groza Award winner back as kicker.  They've got their punter back, very, very talented in the special teams area, and you look at their return guys, they'll have 9 and 8, and 80 is their punt return guy and is very talented and capable of creating some explosive plays in the kicking game.
So not a lot of weaknesses when you're looking at Florida State.  They're really sound.  They've got good experience all over the field, and obviously they've got a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and he's earned it.
As far as open date for us, I think we're in good health.¬† Guys were very fresh last night and excited to get back to practice.¬† We're going to have to have a great week of practice.¬† Going to have to have a great Tuesday‑Wednesday for sure to really give ourselves a chance to go play well.¬† Florida State has won 18 in a row, I think, and been a long line of folks that have tried to knock them off and we're up next, and we're looking forward to the opportunity to go down there and excited about being a part of a game like this.¬† This is what makes it all worth it.
You get opportunities like this throughout the course of your season.  With that, I'll take your questions.

Q.¬† Coach, your team has been in a number of big games over the last few years.¬† I guess, how do you prepare the team going into a game like this without getting a bunch of 18, 19, and 20‑year‑olds jacked up about playing the No. 1 team in the country in their house?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, it's not about any of that.  That's what people want to talk about and remind us, but it's not about all that stuff.  It's about how you play the game.  The biggest thing is you draw on the experience that you have in the room.  We've got a bunch of guys that have good experience.  As you've said, we've played in a bunch of these games.  I think this is our 8th top 12 game in our last 18 games.  So we've been in a bunch of these type games.  We've played four Top 10 games last year.  So our guys understand how you have to play.
When we've won, we've won our share, and when we haven't won, they understand why.  So you draw on that experience that you have with that senior and that junior group that's been a part of a bunch of these games and you try to resonate that, and make sure guys are focused on the right things.  I think mentally they're in a good spot, and I think the fact today we had to open up and go to Athens, I think that's a positive for us.  We obviously wanted to win the game, and we didn't deserve to win the game, but I think that hopefully we can be much further along going into this game than maybe we would have been had we played somebody else a different caliber team.

Q.¬† Jimbo mentioned yesterday that this has become a rivalry‑type game for them.¬† How do you guys view it, and having it so early in the season, is that difficult for both sides that you're not what you're going to be in November?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, it's definitely a rivalry game.  Again, it's conference, but it's division.  For us, it's all about winning the league, because if we can win the league, then we have opportunity to do great things nationally.  That's been proven.  If you win this thing, you're going to be in the mix, so it's huge from that standpoint.  But at the end of the day, it's just our first conference game, and it's the same for them.
They do all that schedule stuff.  I don't know how they figure all that stuff out and I don't waste a lot of time worrying about it.  We're going to play them whenever they say play them.  That's just the way it is.  So I think when it's this early in the season, you have to be careful though that you have good perspective when you're playing a big game like this where it's been so huge the last few years from a conference standpoint.  Because you've got 12 games and they're all critically important to the overall big picture of what you're trying to do with your team and your program.
You have to be careful when you win this game, and you have to be careful if you don't win it.¬† That's very important.¬† If you celebrate and act like you've won the ACC because you've won this game, well, guess what?¬† You're going to get beat the next week and probably get beat again.¬† If it doesn't go your way, hey, you've got to pick your boots up and go back to work and control what you control.¬† I think that's what the great programs do.¬† That's what‑‑ because you don't ever know.
In college football, just when you think you know, you don't know.  All we know right now is we've played two ballgames and who knows.  Auburn wasn't even ranked last year in the preseason, you know?  They ended up in the National Championship Game.  So it's so early in the season, but as far as the schedule, you just play them however they say play them.  You get ready, and I mean, if everybody had their say in how you aligned everything, we'd never come to an agreement.  So you just can't worry about that stuff.

Q.  What does Clemson need to do to be the first team in the nation to beat Winston and the Seminoles?
COACH SWINNEY:  First of all, we need to take care of the football.  If you're going to have a chance to win this game from a Clemson perspective, we have to win the turnover margin.  When we've lost to these guys that's been a problem.  We have to find a way to create some turnovers and take care of the ball.  I think that's critical.  I think we have to win the big play margin.  It's not something people talk about as much, but those explosive plays are a huge part of winning this game.
When we've won, we've been good in these two areas.¬† When they've beaten us, they've been good in those two areas.¬† I think that's critical.¬† We've got to be excellent in special teams.¬† That's a huge factor.¬† And our best player had a got to play well.¬† When you win games like this, your best players have to play well.¬† So I think that's just some critical factors for us big picture‑wise for us to have a chance.
If we go down there and we don't win the turnover margin and they have more big plays, it's probably a long night for the Tigers.  So we've got to do a good job in those two areas.  And that's everything combined.  That's offense, defense, special teams.  That's all of that working together to try to win both of those margins.

Q.  They beat you over the top last year.  How do you think y'all held up?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Yeah, I thought we played actually pretty well on both sides.¬† I thought we played really well on the offensive line last year in this game.¬† I thought we played well in the defensive line.¬† But the game really kind of‑‑ I mean, if you really sit down and watch the game and you know what you're looking at, it changed quickly.¬† The most disappointing part of the game to me, obviously, I was disappointed with the turnovers and a couple of just really poor plays on our part.¬† But we didn't respond to the adversity when we had a chance.¬† That was probably the most disappointing part of that game.
It was a 17‑7 game, and we had the ball twice, one time inside the 25, and we call a simple play and we end up taking a 15‑yard loss.¬† Ran backwards on a play, I mean, it was a nightmare.¬† If you just score on one of those possessions, 17‑10, 17‑14, it's a different mojo, if you will.¬† And we didn't respond.¬† Then they went on down and scored, and now all of a sudden, the game changes, everything changes as far as how the game is called on both sides, type of coverages that you're seeing and so forth.¬† That's the frustrating thing, but that's football.
As far as how the guys played in the trenches, I thought they really played solid, you know?¬† We just didn't really‑‑ usually games like that come down to the trenches, but never really gave ourselves a chance to get it there.¬† That's all you can do is your part.¬† Football is about 11 guys doing their job and caring about each other, and when you have eight out of 11 or 9 out of 11, it usually doesn't work as good as, but everybody suffers.¬† That's why having a high level of accountability is critical.

Q.  Your program started that upper trajectory at the same time.  Is it fun to compete against them after winning a National Championship last year and you guys are trying to go step for step with them?
COACH SWINNEY:  Absolutely.  We want to be the best.  That is the bottom line.  We want to be the best in the country.  It's been difficult.  It's been a challenge because we've beaten everybody but Florida State and SouthCarolina.  You know, we finished 7th last year, which is the highest finish we've had here since 1981, but you can't feel good about that because your two biggest rivals are in front of you.  One of them finished fourth, one of them finished first.  That puts a little damper on the mood pretty quick.
But it's a great challenge for us and certainly embrace all the very positive things that we've done, and a lot of the big wins that we've had we've responded to the adversity in the game, and you have to do that.
But I'm proud of what Florida State was able to do last year.  Shoot, I was tomahawk chopping at The National Championship Game, two handed, pulling for them.  At end of the day, we couldn't be there.  We had our chance, we had our shot.  We were number three in the country and we didn't get it done, but what I know is we're not going away as a program.  We're going to be in these type of games every year and we'll go get our shot.  If we continue to stay focused on the right things, and continue to improve at a high level and have great discipline and have the culture the way it needs to be, we're going to get there.  But it is definitely a journey, and came up a little short last year.  Hopefully we can get back on track this year.

Q.  Last year after the game against Florida State, you said that you felt the two programs were on a level and you played ten times between half of them.  Can you still look at the personnel with their team this year?  Do you still feel that way?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† I don't know.¬† We've only played two games.¬† Last year I think we were what, 6‑0 or 5‑0, 6‑0.¬† We played six games.¬† I made that statement, Lord have mercy, I caught enough grief on that.¬† I can't give you an honest answer without getting my butt ripped by people.¬† I gave an answer that I really truly believed about that team, last year's team.¬† I still believe that.¬† It was nothing negative.¬† Everybody wants to take something you say and turn it into a negative.¬† It was absolutely nothing negative.
Jimbo and I talked about it, it was nothing negative toward Florida State at all, great respect for them.  But I felt like the team we had last year, the comment was if that team played each other ten times, we would win half of them.  I still believe that.  I believed that then, I believe that now.  That's not a negative.  I really think we had a heck of a football team, a really good team.  We finished 7th in the country.  That is the reality.
There ain't a lot of difference between 1 and 15, to be honest with you.  There's not.  There is not a lot of difference.  It's a play here or there.  Things can snow ball quickly.  That's football.  That's what I believe.  To ask me right now, heck, I don't know who we are.  I think we're pretty good.  I mean, let me go play some games and figure this thing out.  If I had four preseason games, maybe I'd have a better answer, but I don't get that.  It's real bullets when you lineup in college football.  They're real.  You better be ready to play.
We'll find out a little bit in the month of September, but not everything.¬† Not everything at all.¬† We going to win this thing?¬† That means we're 2‑1, and we have a bunch more games to play.¬† If we lose that game, we're 1‑2, and you'll probably have a lot of people quit and call the season off, but not this guy.¬† I'm going to try to win every game we can win starting this weekend.¬† I'll know more about our team and our season as we go through it.
Last year we played six games and I really, really liked our football team.¬† At the end of the year, we were what I thought we were, a really good football team.¬† That had a great year, a great year.¬† It's just hard to celebrate a great year at Clemson when your only two losses are to your biggest rivals and they finished 1‑4.¬† I get all that.¬† But at the same time, that's reality.

Q.  Last week your younger players were very productive.  We didn't see a lot of them the first week because they're young.  This week are they more prepared?
COACH SWINNEY:  Oh, no question.  They played two games.  Two weeks ago was huge for them to get some great experience.  The level of competition was obviously different but at the same time, to get guys confidence and experience is huge.  You never know how freshmen are going to respond or react until you get them that experience.  But I think we've recruited well.  We've got excellent young talent and we're playing them for a reason.  They've got to go perform and we've got to give them opportunities to do that, and we'll continue to.

Q.  When you look at last year's numbers they were pretty even.  Going into this game, how do you stop that pass?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Biggest thing, we've got to contest more plays.¬† If you watch our game last year, they threw a hitch for a 75‑yard touchdown, a hitch.¬† It was a four‑yard completion, maybe five, maybe five yards, and he went 75 yards.¬† Totally uncontested, missed tackle, 75 yards.¬† So we have to start with playing with more confidence and making those space tackles.¬† These guys do a good job of creating space.¬† They're athletic.¬† I think we match‑up better than we did last year from a back end standpoint, but that's where it starts.¬† We have to contest the throws, put some pressure on the quarterback.¬† We can't let him sit back there and be comfortable.¬† We've got to mix our coverages.¬† We can't be predictable.¬† There are a lot of things that go into that.
But at the end of the day, the guy won the Heisman Trophy for a reason.¬† He's a great player.¬† Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the opponent.¬† You know what?¬† That guy, for a freshman, any red‑shirt freshman, but for a red‑shirt freshman to walk into death Valley into that environment and play like he did, you know, well, you just tip your hat to him.¬† It was impressive.¬† I mean, it was impressive, and he did it all year to everybody he played.¬† First time I saw him look like a freshman was in the National Championship game.¬† Only time I saw him all year look like a freshman.¬† But he got himself together and responded like a Heisman Trophy winner would.

Q.  Have you ever played or coached on a team where Las Vegas or the national media says the opponents three touchdowns better?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, that stuff, you can't pay any attention.  Good Lord, if you pay attention to that stuff, we'd all be going crazy around here.  I mean, we've won 7 top 11 games since I've been the head coach and I bet you we were the underdog in all of them.  I don't think we were favored in any of them.  Heck, we beat Virginia Tech at their place in '11.  They didn't cry.  Their season was over and all that stuff.  They went back to work.  I think it might be the only loss they had, and we had to play them again in the championship, and they were third in the nation.  I think we were the underdog in that game.  Were we the underdog?
We were the underdog in that game to y'alls perspective.  We were the underdog.  The team we already beat.  No way.  We got lucky.  We got lucky.  Stars aligned.  Everything was perfect.  We got lucky.  We can't win again.  But we won.  If it was all about that, college football wouldn't be any fun, would it?
Why do we watch college football?¬† Because you see Boston College smash Southern Cal.¬† Who thunk it?¬† Did any of you all think that?¬† Come on.¬† You're lying.¬† All of you are lying.¬† You're all lying.¬† I mean, that's what makes college football great.¬† We won the National Championship in '92.¬† I think we were the largest underdog ever in the National Championship Game at that time.¬† I think we were the 13 or 14‑point underdog.¬† I believe.¬† Any y'all remember that?¬† They had the Heisman Trophy winner, by the way.¬† Gino Torretta.¬† They had the fun and gun, all that fancy stuff going on, and we beat them 34‑13.
But here's the deal:  We didn't think of ourselves as underdogs, and this team doesn't see themselves as underdogs.  Now y'all see us as underdogs.  Why are we the underdog?  I think we had a good team.  That's all fun stuff to talk about.  But that's what makes college football a blast.  You see things all the time.  Just when you think you figured it out, here comes East Carolina who beats Virginia Tech.  Everybody's got it figured out because they go to Ohio State and win.
College football is the best thing going out there.¬† It's a blast to be part of it.¬† It's difficult, a challenge because you're dealing with young people, and young people can be influenced by the smallest little things, and we live in a world and coach in a world now that it ain't like it used to be where it's the coffee shop and the barber and the grocery store.¬† Yeah, it's always been the same and this and that.¬† But you didn't the have the everybody had access to everything all the time.¬† So it's a different world.¬† So it's a challenge when you're dealing with young people week‑in and week‑out.¬† But, man, it's fun.¬† I'm glad to have the opportunity to be in a place like Clemson and to be able to be a part of games like Clemson‑Florida State.¬† It's awesome.
This is my 20th year coaching, 25th year in college football, and playing and coaching and being in games like this where it's Alabama‑Tennessee, Alabama‑LSU, Alabama‑Auburn, Alabama‑Florida, SEC Championship games, National Championship Game, ACC Championship, Clemson‑Florida State, whatever those games are it's just awesome to be a part of it and you just never know.

Q.  With the level of the two programs is this kind of a de facto championship game based on what we've seen in the past?
COACH SWINNEY:  If that's how you think, you're probably going to get beat.  Because I just said, just when you think you have it all figured out, here comes Virginia and they beat somebody you don't think they're going to beat, or here comes Syracuse and upsets everybody, whatever.  You just never know what's going to happen in college football.
Yeah, history says over the last few years, but history says a lot of things that turn out to not be accurate, you know?  History says all kinds of stuff.  But it's all about today.  It's all about this game and this team.

Q.  Speaking of the fun of college football as you talked about, you've got a lot of fans on both sides of the quarterback situation.  Is it possible to embrace that and have fun a little bit with the controversy and say that it's a good controversy?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, it's not a controversy.  It's a great situation is what it is.  I think that we're very blessed at quarterback at Clemson.  You know, people want to make their own decisions and conclusions, and that's what fans do.  And that's okay.  I don't have a problem with that.  I have no problem with that at all.  I'm actually really glad that we're having the conversation, because, first of all, that tells you that you've got a really special freshman.  Because when he's played, he's played very well, which we expected him to do that, we coached him to do, and that's what we recruited him for.  So that part is great.
But just because you see a freshman play well, now nobody wants to give the other guy any credit.  We have to evaluate everything.  Our starter has played great in two games.  That's all we've got.  We've got two games.  When I say starter, he's the starter.  He earned the job.  You have to have credibility within your program.  You don't just make people starters because of potential.  This is a team concept, and guys earn things.  They pay the price.  Fans just see a glimpse of something.  Oh, he's got great potential, absolutely.
But Deshaun hasn't won the job yet.  He may.  He didn't win it in fall camp clearly.  His first week and a half of camp, it was really bad.  But that last week, man, he came on.  He did not win the job.  You can't just make a guy a starter on potential.  It doesn't work that way.  Guys have to earn things.  I'm not afraid to start a freshman.
I'll start a bunch of freshmen, just count them up.¬† There are a bunch of red‑shirt freshmen for us.¬† I'm not afraid of that at all.¬† Best players plays, but you have to earn it.¬† I think you have to give guys opportunity.¬† That's important.¬† We came into the season and said, hey, we're going to play this guy.¬† I told you up front.¬† We're going to play him.¬† Get ready for it.¬† Don't be surprised because of what we see in practice we say you know what?¬† Clear starter here.¬† But boy we've got something special.¬† We need to evaluate him further and see what happens on game day, and that young man is special and he's performed great.¬† But after two games, we still have a clear starter.
You know, I have all the trust in the world in Coach Morris.  He brings me his recommendation, and I agree 100%.  I have no reason not to.  I'm at practice every day.  Watch all the tape, all the film, watch every decision, every inside.  There are a lot of things that go making the decision.  The fact of the matter is we have a guy that won the job.  Wasn't given the job, he earned it, and he is the starter, and he's done nothing.  He's played very well.
He has to continue to do that, obviously.  We're not going to have a guy out there that's going to be the village idiot.  We're not going to show him to play.  He has to perform well.  We'll continue.  It's a constant evaluation on where you are, and it's a process that you go through.  You can look all around, there are a bunch of situations in college football where you have teams trying to still figure out who is the guy.  For us, we didn't go into it trying to figure out who is the guy.  Here's the guy, he's earned it, but this guy right here, we're going to give him an opportunity and see what happens.  Again, after we played two games.
Next week, maybe you all ask different questions.  Next week maybe y'all are saying why don't you put Deshaun Watson in there again?  I get all that.  So we'll just see how it goes and continue to manage it, but it's not a controversy.  It's a very, very good situation.

Q.  What you do with the running back and stuff, if the guy's got the hot hand you're going to go with that guy if he gets hot?
COACH SWINNEY:  Absolutely.  I think that's managing the game and making good decisions with your personnel as you go through the flow of the game.

Q.  So do you think it's the nature of the position?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, yeah, absolutely.  Absolutely.  Quarterback is going to get all the credit, and you get all the blame.  Always been that way, always will be, forever and ever.

Q.  Do you think you can address the controversy at left guard?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Yeah, y'all want to talk about Beasley and Webster?¬† How come y'all don't talk about that?¬† Beasley has been a three‑year starter around here, and he hasn't started in two games, man.¬† You want to talk about that?¬† That ain't sexy enough, is it?¬† That doesn't get any headlines.¬† Give them boys some love, man, give them some love.¬† My man Beasley is battling to get his job back.¬† Reid's trying to fight to hold on to it, fifth‑year senior, never started.
Got this young guy, Crowder.  Y'all asked me about Crowder.  He's trying to get on that field.  Everything's about the quarterbacks.  That's the way it is.

Q.  So you're saying you don't let 2000 people into practice every day?
COACH SWINNEY:  Nope, nope.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
COACH SWINNEY:  That's what's part of it.  That's what's fun about it.  If it don't work, just blame the coach.  I mean, if we screw it all up, it ain't right, then just blame me.  Don't take it out on the kids, don't take it out on the assistants.  You just blame Dabo, all right?  That's just fine.

Q.  Coach, we got who your starter is.  That you want to play Deshaun but because of his experience.  Do you need him to play in this game to win?
COACH SWINNEY:  I don't know.  I have no idea.  I just know that we're going to play him because he deserves to play, and we think he brings something to the table that's a little different.  You know, we're going to find that out.  I really don't know.

Q.  Based on the success and efficiency that he's had in the first two games, do you think he earn a longer look?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† No, I think we'll continue to manage the situation just the way we have.¬† Again, you make in‑game decisions accordingly.¬† It's easy to say that, but then you're not giving Cole any credit in how he's played.¬† He's played very well, very well.¬† So we just kind of discount that.¬† Sometimes people just see what they want to see, and we see it all.¬† We see the big picture.¬† There is a bigger picture than what some people are looking at out there.

Q.  Is Jayron moving to nickel?
COACH SWINNEY:  No, he's our starting safety, but we work him all over.  He's worked a lot of different positions for us all through camp.  He's played multiple spots.  So I mean, he's a guy that as we go through the season, when you go through camp, you prepare for your season.  And we've trained him up at several spots.  But he's our starting safety, especially when we're in regular personnel.

Q.  Could that be a consideration that him in nickel and putting in Jadar?
COACH SWINNEY:  Anything's possible when you're dealing with personnel.

Q.  Seems Florida State doesn't have any weaknesses.  What are their weaknesses?
COACH SWINNEY:  They don't have a lot.  Maybe y'all can watch them and tell me.  They're really good on defense.  They've got an outstanding defensive line, probably the best secondary we played, athletic backers that can run, great in the kicking game.  They've got more award winners.  It's unbelievable.
Senior offensive line, fast, electric at running back and wideout, All‑American at tight end, and not a lot of them.¬† You know, they're a complete team, and they've won 18 in a row.¬† I mean, I've I tried to say that last year.¬† A lot of people didn't want to give them credit last year until the very end.¬† Kept trying to still find something.¬† This is a complete football team.
But I think if you're going to beat them, you've got to do the things that we talked about.¬† You've got to find a way to create some turnovers.¬† They're not robots.¬† They're humans, but you've got to find a way to make those big plays, win those competitive match‑ups.¬† Because at the end of the day, it's a simple game.¬† It comes down to blocking and tackling and winning your competitive match‑up and taking care of the football, winning that margin.¬† That's ultimately what it comes down to.¬† We've beaten these guys, and when we have it's gone our way in those areas.

Q.  Offensively, you're kind of built on go, go, go, go.  Is there a scenario where you maybe try to slow it down a little bit to keep some of those play makers off the field?
COACH SWINNEY:  When we're trying to milk the clock, that's when we slow it down, otherwise we play.  We are who we are.  We have a philosophy that we're fully committed to.  We're at our best when we're playing fast.

Q.  How's Jameis Winston?  Is he a different quarterback and player now than when you faced him last year?
COACH SWINNEY:  It's scary.  It's a scary deal because he's just figuring it out last year, and now he's even more confident than he was last year.  He was a pretty confident dude last year, but he's even more confident.  The guy has won the National Championship.  He's won the Heisman Trophy.  He's mentally tough, he's physically tough.
Again, I don't think he gets enough credit for his football IQ and his instincts.  He's a smart player, very smart player.  Knows where all of his guys are.  He makes some plays that you just got to tip your hat to him.  And that is the way the great ones are.  I mean, Johnny Manziel, I remember watching the Bowl game against Duke last year, and Duke's probably going to win the game.  He made a play.  He was going to scramble, y'all may remember it, then he changed his mind, jumps over a guy.  He changes his mind, jumps back over a guy.  Makes the guy miss, rolls around, and throws the touchdown pass.  You just kind of tip your hat and move on.  He makes plays like that.
Like I said, the run that he made in the Oklahoma State game you saw his will to win and had that competitive drive that Jameis has.  So I have great respect for him as a football player.  He's really got it all for that position.

Q.  How do you prepare your defense for basically what is described?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† We've got to play defense.¬† We've got to be sound.¬† No rush lanes.¬† We can't just fly up the field.¬† We have to understand this guy can hurt you with your legs.¬† We have to mix and match coverages and pressures.¬† You can't just sit there and lineup in one thing.¬† He's going to beat you.¬† We have to win in the trenches.¬† You have to win the match‑up.¬† We have to create pressure.¬† The plays don't work good when guys are getting whipped.¬† So we have to disrupt what they're trying to do.

Q.  Going back to an issue for the weekend.  You have a firm policy on the issues of domestic violence and things like that with your players?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, zero tolerance.  We're not going to deal with that kind of stuff.  I had a player that's no longer here, kind of a situation that we had in that realm.  But listen, I grew up around that, all right.  So I have firsthand knowledge.
The thing that bothers me about all of that is there are people, you can go down here to the Safe Harbor in Seneca, which is an organization we support with our foundation, and it's an emergency shelter for women to go in the middle of the night.  Been there.  I can't tell you how many times as a kid I was in a car and drove off and just go sleep in a car somewhere or knock on somebody's door and go find a place to spend the night.  I understand all of that.
The sad part about it, what is good and bad, there are women being battered every day that people never know about.  Never know their name, nothing.  But it takes a guy that runs a football to create the awareness that it really should have always had, in my opinion.  That is the other thing.
This isn't a football problem.¬† This is like people want to make everything‑‑ football is the evil empire.¬† Everybody wants to make football the bad guy.¬† This ain't a football problem, this is a society problem.¬† That's what it is.¬† And it's a shame to me that it took a football player to finally create a platform and the awareness that it deserves of all these unknown faces that are just as important as any football player's wife to bring attention and to bring light to such a bad situation.¬† Because it's horrible.¬† Bottom line.
So sometimes people just want to‑‑ oh, this is a football thing.¬† Football is a reflection of society, period.¬† You name it, whatever's going on in society, it's in football too.¬† The good part is, okay, it finally has gotten brought to light and it's gotten the attention, and hopefully will create all kinds of great awareness and provide opportunities for a lot of women out there that are in bad situations.¬† They're helpless.
Until you've been in that situation you just don't know, you don't know.  It sounds easy, but it's a very difficult thing to be a part of.  Controlling and you're fearful and so forth.  So it's great that there are places out there that provide shelter for women, provide counseling, whatever it may be.  But it's a society problem in every sense of the word.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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