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October 8, 2014

Dabo Swinney

DABO SWINNEY:  Well, first of all, excited about the way our team played this past week.  Really just tremendous performance by our guys, and played with great focus for four quarters, which is something that we needed to do.
You know, just continues to get tougher as we move through our schedule here.  Louisville is an outstanding team, 5‑1, very well coached.  Offensively they really do a great job of running the football, excellent in the offensive line, outstanding skill.  Sounds like they're going to get their All‑American wide‑out back this week, as well.  They've got two quarterbacks that are very capable.  We're very impressed with their running backs.  And then defensively they lead the world in just about every statistic defensively.  Very aggressive, athletic, fast, do a great job pressuring the quarterback.  They've got excellent speed, very good in coverage, aggressive and confident in coverage, and then outstanding special teams.
We're going to have to really play well.  Looking forward to our first‑ever match‑up with Louisville as far as ACC, and we're glad that we have an opportunity to be at home for another week before we get back out on the road.
With that, I'll take your questions.

Q.  Just wondering, how impressed or surprised have you been by the way a lot of these receivers have developed for you so far and how good is it having such a deep receiving corps so early?
DABO SWINNEY:  Obviously it was an area that we knew we were going to have to grow up pretty quick with losing Sammy and Martavis and Luke the week before and Jaron Brown, as well.  All four of those guys are playing on Sunday now.
As I said before the season, we really like our guys, our personnel.  We think we recruited well.  My message was by the end of the year I think a lot of people will be asking me about these new guys.  They've stepped up, and I'm not surprised, because again, we had a couple of them here this spring, Demarre Kitt and Artavis came in January.  I think that really helped those guys, and I'm proud of them.  They're doing a nice job for us, and some of our young tight ends continue to develop.  I really like the fact that we've been able to involve our running backs in the passing game, as well, and then a young guy like Germone Hopper, who's not a freshman, he's a sophomore, he's been around here a couple years, but I think he's been a huge addition, as well, and it's really just him, he's finally bought into the way we do things here at Clemson.  It's good to see him reap those rewards from buying in and working hard and being committed to being a great player.

Q.  How instrumental was it in the off‑season getting these guys together for seven‑on‑sevens and working with them behind the scenes?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, that's where the chemistry has developed, the nuances of your passing game, and those guys spending that extra time getting just reps.  Ultimately it's about reps, and just the chemistry that comes from getting those reps together is critical.

Q.  Talk about Louisville this week, what you see on film, because I know Louisville played Miami this year and Miami was still an up‑and‑coming defense.  What have you seen on film with their quarterbacks?
DABO SWINNEY:  They're both very capable, very capable.  I mean, these guys, obviously the freshman went the distance last week.  He's a young guy that can throw the ball, he can run the ball effectively.  They've done quite a bit of some spread stuff this year, as well.  But they really want to‑‑ their identity is they want to line up and run the ball and pound you.  It's a lot like Georgia in that regard in a lot of the things that they do, but they do get into the spread stuff, as well.  It presents some challenges preparation‑wise and really covering a lot of different things and making good adjustments and the game comes.
Both of those guys are big, strong guys, 6'3", 6'5", and very capable, and they're surrounded‑‑ and they're fast.

Q.  What about your field goal kicking because I know a couple weeks ago you had the shaky thing in Florida State.  Has it improved since then?
DABO SWINNEY:  Yeah, he's made four out of his last five, and he's been really good here at home.  He's made seven out of eight attempts here at home, so he's obviously very confident here.  His struggles this year to this point have come in our two road games, at Athens and then obviously in Tallahassee.  But first‑year starter, and hopefully he'll continue to grow and build his confidence, and next time we get back out on the road, hopefully he'll perform well there, too.  Seven out of his eight at home and four out of his last five overall, I think he's bounced back nicely.

Q.  You had spoken last week when I asked you about the running game, you talked about Gallman and Choice and what you wanted to see from them and have them step up in their game.  What did you take away from the North Carolina State game?  Do you really feel like they have made some strides for you?  How did you assess them after that game?
DABO SWINNEY:  They both did an excellent job.  Choice averaged 6.2 and Gallman was like four and a half yards or five yards a carry.  It was good to see those guys get significant opportunity.  The biggest thing is we just cleaned up a lot of stuff, a lot of the miscues.  We ran a lot of the same plays, but we just executed with accuracy, and we more often than not had 11 guys doing what they need to do.  That helps, first of all, but we really wanted to challenge Gallman and Choice and kind of see where they were, and in particular we were very pleased with Adam because he wasn't able to practice a whole lot last week with a sore groin, and he performed well, broke off a 30‑something‑yarder, but those of those guys, I think, from a confidence standpoint really grew a ton in that ballgame, and same thing with us as coaches in being confident in them in watching them perform.  Wayne Gallman was excellent all day.  Both of them very involved in the passing game, which was good to see, broke some runs, made some guys miss, just some huge 3rd down conversions from those guys.
So it was a good day for two true freshmen and something that I think we can build on.

Q.  And then obviously offensively you talked a lot about your quarterback, but defensively with Vic Beasley and the rest of the guys that have done a lot of great things for you, especially the shutout this past week, what can you say about their level, where they're at, how Vic is leading this defense and how you see them moving forward as you continue to face a pretty tough schedule in the ACC?
DABO SWINNEY:  Yeah, well, they're playing well.  They're right where I hoped they would be at this point.  They really only had one bad quarter all year.  They've had a few bad plays here and there, but we've had one bad quarter in five games, so they're very focused on being great.  This was a huge step for us this past week.  NC State was leading this league in total offense and second in scoring and scoring over 40 points a game and had 500 yards on Florida State.  For us to be able to hold them to 156 yards, it was just great preparation by our guys.
One of the things that we really challenged our guys was we've got to get out of this charity business in that we were really giving up some chunk big plays where it wasn't necessarily a competitive play, it was a mental error where it was an uncontested play.  Those are the things that we've got to eliminate, and I thought our guys did a tremendous job this past week.  I mean, every play was contested.  There just wasn't a lot of‑‑ they had to earn everything they got, and really proud of just how they prepared, the attention to details.  Our front is playing outstanding.  They've done a good job all year against the run, and that's got to continue for us to have a chance to be successful.  And then our coverage has just greatly improved over the course of the season.

Q.  Saturday is kind of the halfway point of your season.  As you look back against the team that took the field against Georgia in the opener versus the game you had last Saturday going into this game, is the progress kind of eye‑opening to you, how the team is playing now versus the opener, or what's your assessment at the halfway point?
DABO SWINNEY:  Oh, we're greatly improved, there's no doubt about that.  That's what you want.  We did a lot of great things in our opener.  We really did.  We played very well for pretty much three quarters of that game and just didn't execute with precision offensively in the second half in particular in that game and missed a kick, gave up a kick return for 100‑yard touchdown, some critical mistakes.  We've just improved.  I mean, we're a more confident team.  As I said, going into the season, we were going to be a little bit of a work in progress, and now after five games, I'm starting to see a team that's starting to create a little bit of an identity.  They're playing with confidence.  They really have played well.  Played great at Florida State.  In fact, we played better at Florida State than we did against North Carolina.
Sometimes you can play well and not win, but overall just seeing our team mature and develop, I think that we're in a good spot, and this is a huge one for us this week because this is an outstanding team and a big challenge, and for us it's just about we've kind of created a little bit of momentum, trying to keep that momentum going, because I think when it's all said and done, we could be a really, really special team when this thing is all said and done at the end of the year.

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