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October 1, 2014

Dabo Swinney

DABO SWINNEY:  Well, we're really proud of our football team for taking care of business this past weekend.  I like the fact that we were able to bounce back from a difficult loss at Florida State.  It doesn't get any easier for us.  We've got a really, really good NC State football team coming in here playing at a high level with a ton of confidence, very impressed with their defensive front, and offensively this quarterback has really, really been impressive to watch on tape as we've studied him.  He's made a big difference in their team, big up front, always have good skill, got three really good backs, and we'll have to play very well, that's for sure.

Q.  Deshaun Watson obviously set a record, six touchdown passes in his first start as a freshman.  You talked about him last week and why you put him in.  What can you say about his growth and his maturity and the level that he's at right now?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, just really can't say enough.  I mean, he's a special young talent.  I haven't been around a freshman like him, but he's still a freshman, and he's still got a lot of growing to do.  He's not going to catch six touchdown passes every game, that's for sure.  But that's kind of what presented itself to us the other day.  They really were committed to taking the run away, and their philosophy was let's see if this freshman can beat us.  He stepped up and answered the call, and our young wide‑outs are really developing after four games.  Hopefully we can be able to get a little bit more balance in what we're doing and helping with the running game because we're going to need that as we move forward.
But I'm really proud of him.  He's a special person.  He's a better young man than he is a player, and that's what I'm most proud of.  He's just continued to stay humble.  He's a great teammate, and just comes to work every day ready to go.  I mean, he's having a lot of fun, and this is why we recruited him.  We identified him a long time ago.  He's been committed to us since he was a sophomore, and we're excited that he's finally leading the Tigers.

Q.  And then as far as you brought up the running game, you talked about it before being by committee, and obviously in the last game the run being taken away, Davidson, Howard, what can you say about what you see from them?  Are there positives, kind of where you're heading with that running game?
DABO SWINNEY:  Oh, yeah, there's definitely positives.  I think C.J. Davidson has been pretty consistent for us, got a little banged up against Florida State, but came back and did a few positive things this past week.  D.J. is our steady guy.  He's the veteran.  We're very comfortable with him as far as knowing that he's going to do exactly what we need him to do protection‑wise especially.  He played a lot last week.  We're going to have to throw the ball a bunch.  The two guys that we really want to get going are Choice and Gallman.  Choice last week took a deep thigh bruise, kind of limited him, and Gallman made a couple of critical mistakes early in the game and kind of lost our confidence a little bit.  Those are two guys that really we think have great futures for us, and we've just got to put them in situations where they can be successful.
And then we've got some other things we've got to clean up running game‑wise, some little things, whether it be tight ends or offensive line or wide‑outs, whatever it may be, or the quarterback, it's all tied together, but hopefully somebody will get the hot hand each and every week, but right now we're still kind of that running back by committee.

Q.  I wanted to ask you a follow‑up to that.  Is the running back by committee approach, is that something that you want to keep doing, or would you like to see one or two guys emerge from that group?
DABO SWINNEY:  Oh, no, you'd love to see somebody kind of separate themselves and emerge, but we're not quite there yet after four games.

Q.  What do you think it's going to take for somebody to get there?
DABO SWINNEY:  Just improvement.  Improvement.  Get some experience, some time, opportunity.  We've only played four games, and we've played some really good people, too.  We played at Georgia, at Tallahassee, and then we played North Carolina, who really did everything to stop the run.  It'll all shake itself out.  I think by the end of the year, we'll look back on the season, and we're going to see a lot of promise from our running game and our young backs.  Obviously we don't have Zac Brooks; that was a big loss for us.  But we've got what we've got right now, but I think that D.J. is going to do some very positive things as we move throughout this season, C.J. Davidson, as well.  I thought C.J. ran the ball very well at Florida State, and then as I said, the two freshmen are the two that we really want to get going.  I think by the end of the year we will see that Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice are going to be two outstanding players for us.

Q.  You touched on the NC State quarterback in your opening remarks.  What kind of challenge is he going to pose for the pass rush of yours and your secondary?  What's kind of your statements to them this week?
DABO SWINNEY:  I'll tell you, he's a really good player.  This league has got some good quarterbacks, and he leads the league in touchdown passes.  He got 13 of them.  He's second in total offense.  He's big, big strong guy.  To be honest with you, if you just take the jerseys off, he looks a lot like Winston, just the size and kind of some of their movements and how they're both strong enough to break tackles and extend some plays and things like that.  I mean, I've been very impressed with him.  He made some huge plays for NC State against Florida State.  Stood in there, I mean, there were some unblocked guys that got to him that he was able to avoid and make big plays, and those are the things that really, really frustrate you as a coach, when you're like, okay, we got him on the chalkboard, so to speak, but their guy just was better than our guy and avoided that sack, and next thing you know, you can't cover him forever, it's a big play down the field.  They created a lot of explosive plays and he's a big reason for that.  He's a challenge.  He's playing with confidence, and they do a great job with what they do as far as formationing and creating match‑ups and creating a little bit of uncertainty for your defensive players.  So we've got to be very, very disciplined against this bunch.

Q.  Anything in particular you'd like to tweak in your defense?  Although you won the game handily, you did give up some yards and some points, and that may be a reflection of football in this day and age, but what would you like to see defensively to step up?
DABO SWINNEY:  No, we've got a lot of improve on.  We're not going to accept giving up 35 points, that's for sure.  We played a great first half.  There's a lot of positives.  We're, I think, right there leading the country in tackles for loss, and we're getting sacks.  We're doing a lot of great things.  We've got to create more turnovers, number one.  That's one thing that is‑‑ we're plus in the turnover margin for the season, but not what we need to be.  I mean, we've had our hands on balls.  We've got to turn some of those pass breakups into interceptions, and that's one thing for sure that we've got to do, because we're really playing good technique for the most part, but we've got to finish some of those plays.
And then the biggest thing the other day is the big plays that they had, the big play touchdowns.  They had two plays screened behind the line of scrimmage that they got over 100 yards on two scores.  That was very disappointing.  One of them was just the perfect call.  Every now and then that happens in football.  The other we did not do a good job of rallying to the ball and getting a guy on the ground and reloading.  And then some critical errors at critical times like 3rd and 1 and we turn a guy loose or 4th and 1 on the goal line and we have a big‑time mental error for one player, and the other 10 performed perfectly well.  So those are some of the things.  The mental errors, the missed tackles, we've got to convert some of those pass breakups into interceptions.  But in the last three games we've only given up 104 yards rushing.  That's the lowest three‑game total around here since 1991.
They're doing a lot of good, too, but we've got to put it all together and be a complete defense.  That's what I'm looking for, and I've seen that at times, I really have.  I thought, like I said, defensively at Florida State we played our best game, we kind of took a step back this past week, so I'm looking for us to get back on track there.

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