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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 17, 2014


Dabo Swinney


DABO SWINNEY:  We're really excited to get back on the field this week, coming off the open date.  Obviously a huge challenge for us to go down to Tallahassee and play the No.1 team in the country.  This is a great football team we're getting ready to play, obviously.  They won 18 in a row for a reason.
Offensively, defensively and special teams, I mean, just very, very strong from top to bottom, incredibly balanced.¬† They're very committed to that.¬† Offensive line‑wise, best group we've seen.¬† They're all seniors.¬† They're athletic, experienced, tough, physical guys, obviously got a great quarterback.¬† Jameis Winston doesn't get enough credit for how smart he is as a player.¬† He is a very, very good football player.¬† They've got a great tight end.¬† Their receivers and running backs, they're all dangerous, they're all highly skilled, just typical of Florida State.
And then another great group defensively.¬† They're big, really big, strong, physical guys, 300‑plus‑pounders up front that gobble up a bunch of guys and allow those linebackers to run around and make plays.¬† Definitely as good a secondary as we've seen or will see all year.
Special teams‑wise, dangerous guys returners, great kicker, one that's grown since last year, great punter.¬† This is an outstanding football team, but we're looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.¬† Obviously it's a big game from a conference standpoint and getting into conference play and all that, but I think our team had a good week of practice to this point, and coming together with our plan.¬† I think health‑wise we're in good shape and looking forward to heading down there this week.

Q.  With the corners you have this year, because obviously it was Deshaun and Darius last year, what have they done well for the first couple of games?
DABO SWINNEY:  Our current corners?  I think MacKensie Alexander is a guy that probably would have started for us last year to be honest with you, so having him available has been great.  But he's a physical guy.  He really, really works hard on the technical aspect of his position.  He works hard on the knowledge of his position.  He really studies film.  He is a young player, but he is wise beyond his years.  I'm really pleased with just his consistency in his performance in two games.  But it's really been his practice habits and all that kind of stuff.
And then Garry Peters can play.  He's played big plays for us, has made big plays, a huge play in the bowl game two years ago against LSU on the goal line.  He's a confident guy, got a little hurt last year.
Same thing with Martin Jenkins, getting him back.  Martin is a veteran guy that's played in big games and really was just not available like we needed him to be last year from a health standpoint.  So those three guys really were inconsistently available last year, not really in the mix.
And then Cordrea Tankersley is a guy that was just a freshman last year that had to develop, and we're really excited about his physicality that he brings to the position and the speed.  He can really run.
So I think at that position we've got better depth and four guys that we feel like we can really win with, and then some good young guys behind them.

Q.  What do you need to do better or differently this time around than you did in last year's Florida State game?
DABO SWINNEY:¬† Well, we've got a lot we've got to do better, that's for sure.¬† First of all, we've got to take care of the football.¬† I mean, it's just that simple.¬† They created a couple of the turnovers and we had a couple of them that we just‑‑ one in particular we just put the ball on the ground.¬† We've got to take care of the ball and win the turnover margin.¬† We've got to create turnovers from them and take care of it.
We've got to do a better job in the big play area.¬† Florida State is a team that they have the ability to get those explosive plays.¬† I mean, you can just watch their first game against Oklahoma State, and Jimbo does a great job.¬† I mean, he's as good as there is in calling plays, and he's very patient.¬† He'll run it, run it, run it, and next thing you know here comes this heavy play action explosive play, and they do a good job of formationing and creating match‑ups.¬† They had about four huge plays in the Oklahoma State game that really just blew that thing open early and was the difference in the game.
You've got to do‑‑ you've got to at least be even in that area with them, not giving up big plays, and you've got to get some on your side.
Then we have to be great in special teams.  Our last couple years we've lost this game, we've not been great in special teams, and these guys have been.  They've been better than us.  And then our best players have to play well.  You know, it's just really that simple.  Our best players have to play well for you to have a chance to win games like this, and when we've won games like this, that's been the case.
A lot of things we've got to do better than we did last year to have a chance, but certainly those are the major things.

Q.¬† Obviously they've had some personnel losses from last year's team.¬† Because of that, when you look at them on film, are there different challenges for you with the match‑ups than last year?
DABO SWINNEY: ¬†No.¬† You know what, just different birds, man.¬† I mean, they're all the same.¬† They've got great players.¬† They've got everybody‑‑ they lost one guy on the offensive line, but the guy that's replacing him is a senior, as well, and has played a bunch.¬† This is a group that doesn't have many weaknesses.¬† Again, they're incredibly talented at running back, got an All‑American at tight end, got a guy that's going to break every record in Florida State history at wide‑out in Greene, who is a great player.¬† They've got speed, they've got experience and athleticism and depth in the offensive line, defensive line.¬† These guys are all veteran guys, a bunch of juniors and I think there's one sophomore in their two‑deep there, and athletic backers that have played a lot and can run and as talented as secondary as you're going to see.¬† They lost some guys, but they replaced them with guys that played a lot last year on the National Championship team.

Q.  Just wanted to ask, when it comes to disciplining your players, can you tell me your thought process and what things do you consider?
DABO SWINNEY:¬† Well, I mean, I think discipline is obviously an important part of any program if you're going to have the kind of culture that you need to have.¬† But it's really‑‑ I mean, everybody is different.¬† I think that you can't treat everybody the same, but you've got to treat them fair.¬† Some guys have more money in the bank than others, so to speak, as far as who they've been and all that kind of stuff, and what's their past track record.¬† So I think whenever you have issues, you've got to make decisions that are relative to that guy.¬† Obviously you have some things that are just zero tolerance and things like that, but just your day‑to‑day discipline stuff, I think that that depends on the situation and what that person's track record is and so forth.

Q.  What does this game mean for the league this weekend when you take on the No.1 team in this conference?
DABO SWINNEY:¬† Well, I mean, I don't know that it's‑‑ what it means for the league, but I know that for us, from our standpoint, I mean, it's a huge opportunity.¬† I mean, you don't get many opportunities to play the No.1 team in the country.¬† I mean, it's not something that just comes around very often.¬† It's exciting from that standpoint.
I think from a league standpoint, it's great to have a team that won the National Championship last year and is certainly one of the best teams again this year.  I think that's all positive.
But I think it brings good exposure.¬† You're seeing two good teams that obviously a lot of people are interested in watching Clemson‑Florida State.¬† It's always been a fun game to be a part of for many, many years.¬† I think that's good for the league.

Q.  What do you see on film this week with Winston?  Is he different from last year when he played you guys in Death Valley?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, he's better.  He's smarter, he's more experienced.  You know, he's a national champion and he's a Heisman Trophy winner.  He was pretty confident last year, and he's real confident this year, and rightfully so.  He knows what he's doing.  He has a great understanding of their system and what Coach Fisher and the staff are asking him to do.  He only got two games to watch, but you look at the run that he made against Oklahoma State, that was just incredible, one guy making an unbelievable play.
He has a will to win that I have great respect for.  He's a great competitor, and you see that in how he plays.

Q.  I always wonder the impact the home field has in football.  Some sports it's obviously a major factor.  The fact it's going to be at their place, GameDay will be there, everything will be hyped up, how big a factor is that?  Is it something you dismiss or does it really play a role?
DABO SWINNEY:¬† Oh, no, home field is always a factor for sure.¬† That goes back for many, many years.¬† I mean, our seniors are 20‑2 at home.¬† I mean, obviously we've been pretty good here.¬† So it's a factor, but you know, it wasn't a factor last year when they came in here and kicked our butts.¬† It didn't help us.¬† At some point it's great when you can have the crowd in it and the energy that comes from that and all that stuff is really good, the noise, etcetera.¬† But at the end of the day it's about the guys playing on the field and how you play.¬† But I think in all of athletics, when you have fairly talented teams on both sides, you know, home field is a positive, or home court, for example, in basketball.¬† I think that's definitely something that can come into play.
But it didn't help us last year, that's for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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