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October 22, 2014

Dabo Swinney

DABO SWINNEY:  Really proud of our guys for finding a way to win up in Boston against a really, really tough opponent in BC.  It was a good win for us.  We're excited to be back home this week.  It's homecoming here at Clemson and always a special time.
Syracuse is coming in.  This is a team that, I think, just played their best game and seems to be really gaining a lot of confidence.  They've had some really tough losses this year against some very good opponents‑‑ Notre Dame, Florida State, Louisville, to name a few.  And they've had some injuries.  But they've got a quarterback that has really, I think, sparked them defensively.  They are very, very aggressive in what they do.  We're going to have to put a good plan together.  I like how our guys have practiced to this point this week.
We've got a lot of injuries ourselves that we're trying to figure out as far as our best plan‑‑ the best plan to give us the best chance to win, get the right people doing the right things.
But proud of our team and look forward to a great match Saturday night against Syracuse.

Q.  You talked a little bit about how Syracuse's quarterback, you feel, has sparked their team a little bit.  What can you see about what you've seen from A.J. Long on film and what you took away from him so far?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, he's kind of got a little bit of a gunslinger mentality.  He throws a dart, he really does.  He's got a strong arm.  He's accurate, throws a nice deep ball.  They've come up with some competitive plays on some really good people, where their guy has been better than the other guy.  But he has the ability to extend plays.  He's made a lot of really critical plays with his feet, avoiding sacks, made big plays on the run, he's made some good plays for them running out of the pocket.  Just, and again, has kind of a coolness to him and a poise that you don't really see in a lot of freshmen.
He's very competitive, and like I said, the more I watched him, the more impressed that I was with him.  He seems like the guys have kind of rallied around him a little bit, and they're playing very hard.

Q.  And then as far as the defense of Syracuse, obviously, your offense has known how to move the ball and has done a lot of successful things this year.  What are you seeing defensively from Syracuse heading into this matchup?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, I think they're better than they were last year.  They do a lot of the same things, but I think they're better.  They're a dangerous bunch.  They've got three of their four defensive linemen back that we saw last year.  Cameron Lynch, one of their Will backers, excellent player, one of the leading sack guys in this league; Darius Kelly, their safety, I think, is a really, really good player, played several guys in the secondary, but they blitz their safeties.  They bring pressure from all levels.  They're, again, very aggressive in how they attack you.  They're not a passive bunch.  They kind of force the issue on defense.
So from an offensive standpoint for us, we really have to do a great job of having these guys hat it up because, if you don't, kind of like what happened in the Wake Forest game, next thing you know, your quarterback gets hit, ball tips off, defensive line picks it off and runs it in for a touchdown.  They had two scores on defense against Wake, and this is a team that plays with great effort and, again, with an aggressive mentality and a‑‑ from a play calling standpoint that forces the issue and makes you really be dialed in.
There's opportunity to make plays, but you'd better have everybody communicating and on the same page, and you have to make those competitive plays when they present themselves.

Q.  Just wanted to ask you about Tyshon Dye.  You said last night you're going to give him a chance to cut him loose.  How does he look in his first full practice with actual full contact?
DABO SWINNEY:  He looked good yesterday.  I was pleased.  I think he felt pretty good.  Obviously, he's still kind of getting his wind in his sails from a football standpoint and going to be a little bit sore, just like any football player when they get back to practice in the fall.  There's always kind of that breaking‑in process that you have to go through as a player.  Anybody that's played understands what I'm talking about.  There's always going to be a little‑‑ might be a little sore here and there when you get back to actually playing the game.
But he felt good, and it was a good day yesterday.  We'll see where he is today, but making good progress.

Q.  Also, one more thing, Coach, do you‑‑ I know you've still got six weeks to go, five weeks to go in the season, a lot of football to play, but do you look ahead at what's still out there for you guys as far as where this season could end up as you continue to keep playing the way you've been doing?
DABO SWINNEY:  Yeah, we know that we've got a chance to do some great things if we can just continue to improve and stay focused.  We've just got to grind.  We're really just in the third quarter of the season, and we need everybody to take great pride in how we practice and learning what to do each and every week.  Just literally the mentality that every game is kind of a one‑game season of its own and we've got to put everything we can.
All you've got to do is just look at the big picture of college football, and you can see‑‑ Mississippi State is a perfect example.  They weren't even ranked, and now they're number one in the country after six or seven games.  What can happen after the next five or six games?  Anything can happen.  That's why you just put everything you got each and every week into trying to do your best, try to win that game, and kind of keep your head down, and at the end of the year, you hope that you've done enough to position yourself for a great finish.
I think that we've rallied.  We've built some momentum.  For us, again, we've got to keep grinding, got to keep trying to add to that momentum each and every week.

Q.  What do you anticipate as a football fan?  Are you interested in seeing what the College Football Playoff committee comes up with next Tuesday when they release their first ranking?  And do you have a different stance on the system as opposed to when you were asked about it at the ACC media days in July?
DABO SWINNEY:  No, it's all the same.  I think that the biggest difference is, again, you've got people involved this year.  So there's a little bit of unknown with that.  I think everybody is anxiously awaiting their first poll, just really the same as it's been in the past years, where just everybody was waiting that first BCS poll.
It really doesn't matter too much, to be honest with you, where they are and what they come out with because in college football, as we all know, things change drastically from one week to another quite often.  Whatever they come out with next week, that's where it is that week, but they're not going to‑‑ they're not going to punch anybody's ticket next week.  It's just kind of, hey, this is where they see things based on the here and now, and at the end of the season, it would be interesting to go back and compare what the first poll was to what it actually ends up.
Just like with the BCS, really not any different in that regard.  The biggest difference, again, is just the human element you hope that they will evaluate certain things that maybe the computers really didn't recognize, but I like where we are.  I'm excited, just like everybody else, we'll see what happens.  But I'm just really focused on us having the strongest finish that we can possibly have and try to control what we control and position ourself for our best possible postseason out there.

Q.  Coach, we are working on a story about Daniel Rodriguez and his new book.  I was wondering if it you could tell me what your thoughts are about him the first time you saw that YouTube video he put together when he was trying to get recruited.
DABO SWINNEY:  I was just kind of mesmerized, to be honest with you, to the point where, after I watched it, I called him and said, hey, listen, I don't know who you are or what your academic background is, but if you can get into school, I'll definitely take you on our football team.  You love seeing a guy that pays the price and the type of work ethic that he has.
He's just been tremendous.  I mean, this guy is a great leader for us.  Just could not be more proud of an individual.  He's been a great role model, a great example, and a great inspiration to, not just the guys on this team, but thousands, literally thousands of people throughout this country because of his story and his perseverance and his will to chase his dream.

Q.  And one last thing.  When he first told you he was working on a book, were you ever concerned about the balance of that and practice and schoolwork?
DABO SWINNEY:  No, no.  Are you kidding me?  This is a 25‑, 26‑year‑old grown man that's been shot at every day for hours at a time.  So I think he's well capable of doing what he's doing.  All I've done is try to support him, and he's always been very focused on this team and has never allowed anything to be a distraction at all from a team standpoint. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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