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October 29, 2014

Dabo Swinney

COACH SWINNEY:  Well, proud of our team.  Another hard‑fought excellent win for our guys.  Finding a way to beat Syracuse.  Just really like what I'm seeing out of our team, just a collective effort that they've put in, finding ways to win, overcoming some adversity within the game.
But this open day for us is coming at a good time.  We got a lot of guys that we're hoping to make a lot of progress with over the next couple weeks from an injury standpoint, to try to get back and get good for a good November run.
Looking forward to playing on national TV a week from Thursday against Wake Forest, making that trip up there.  I like the attitude of our guys right now as we are really getting plugged back into practice.  Meetings yesterday, practice today and tomorrow.  Our guys will be off on Friday.  Then we'll start our normal game prep Saturday morning preparing a Thursday night game.
We're 6‑2.  Had a good October.  Just hoping we can continue to improve.  That's our goal.

Q.  I know there's been a lot of stress on your offensive linemen based on some of the injuries you've had.  What can you say about the group of guys who had to play over 400, 500 snaps for you up front this year?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, they're competing.  That's the main thing you want your guys to do, compete their tails off.
They're not always perfect maybe from an execution standpoint.  But I just have a great appreciation for their effort that they've put forth.  The fact that we've had guys, Kalon Davis has played every position except center, sometimes in one game.  Reid Webster has played every position, including center.  We've been able to get a couple of guys who haven't played as much, a guy like Tyrone Crowder, some good work.
But it's been a challenge because we've been pretty limited there all year.  There's been some personnel changes, injuries, a lot of different things that we've had to deal with.
Those guys just continue to show up and work their tails off.  They're taking a lot of pride.  We're getting a lot out of them is the bottom line.  We're finding ways to win.
I appreciate the great effort they're giving every week.

Q.  Has it been a tougher challenge for those guys because of the tempo you run?  A couple games you had where you weren't able to get anybody out of the game?
COACH SWINNEY:  I don't think so.  That's how we practice.  Our guys are in great shape.  They've held up just fine.  We were able to play as many as we had this past week.  Couple games before that, most of the guys went the distance.  Fatigue has not been an issue.  We've probably been at our best in the fourth quarter, to be honest with you.

Q.  Talk about the season so far.  Are you happy with your team at this point?
COACH SWINNEY:  Absolutely.  Very happy with our team.  We wish we were 8‑0.  We feel like we had the potential and the opportunity to be 8‑0.  Had a tough start, starting out 1‑2 with two very difficult losses, overtime at Tallahassee.  We weren't happy with that.
What do you do about it?  You come back, we go undefeated in October.  Our guys have kept their heads down, had to manage a lot of moving parts.  Very proud of our team, very proud of them.  They all know we missed a big opportunity early in our season, but they haven't allowed that to be a distraction or make them lose focus, commitment or anything like that.
We're still trying to be the best that we can be.  We think we have an opportunity for a great finish, a great post‑season.  That's what we're focused on.  These guys have a great attitude.  To be 6‑2, in the mix, there's not but a couple undefeated teams out there.  When it's all said and done, there's going to be a lot of two‑loss teams.  We're trying to position ourselves to be the best of that bunch, finish with the highest ranking possible and best post‑season possible.

Q.  Are you happy with where your team is based on the polls that came out last night?  Do you think you can get up to the top four?
COACH SWINNEY:  It just really doesn't matter.  It really doesn't.  If you're up there high, it doesn't matter.  That's great.  But to celebrate that October the 29th is not wise.  If you're not happy where you are in the lower part, don't worry about it, just keep playing.
I know that Michigan State last year on October the 27th, when the BCS came out, they were 24th in both polls.  December the 8th, they were fourth in both polls.
You just got to keep playing.  This is college football, as we all know.  It changes weekly, sometimes dramatically.  All we can do is focus on where we are.  Right now we're about where we've earned to be.  We got a long way to go.  Where are we going to be in December really depends on what we do today at practice and our next few ballgames.

Q.  I'm working on a story about running short‑yardage plays from the shotgun which you see a lot of teams do these days.  You did it in the Florida State game.  Fans look at it and go, Why is he snapping the ball five to seven yards back if you need to move forward two yards?  Can you explain the philosophy behind that, why it works for you.
COACH SWINNEY:  It's just what we do.  Just 'cause you go under center doesn't mean you're going to get the first down.  That's kind of simplifying things a little bit.  It's about how you do what you do.  Again, Louisville, when we played them, went under center every time, I don't think they made one.
You still got to execute.  For us, we try to tie everything together to what we do.  We've been under center in the past.  But we were as good as there was in the country the last few years in short yardage on goal line and shotgun.  Nobody is complaining.  Then all of a sudden you have a couple miscues, you don't quite execute the basic fundamentals like you're supposed to, snap a ball 20 yards down the field on Florida State, all of a sudden there's criticism that comes with that.  That's just part of it.  Everybody has their own opinions.
But we've had a lot of success doing what we do.  You see the same thing in the NFL.  You see a lot of those teams in the shotgun.
Ultimately you have to decide what your philosophy is, who you are, be committed to something.  You can't be all things to all people.  But whether you're under center or in the shotgun, it's your execution of what you do.  It's not just where you snap the ball.
Again, if that was the case, everybody would be under center on every third‑and‑one in college football.  It just doesn't work that way.

Q.  Do you have an under‑center quarterback sneak in your playbook?  Do you think the quarterback sneak is a play that's going away?
COACH SWINNEY:  I think that the quarterback sneak is a very viable play, especially for teams that are under center a lot, yeah, we've got quarterback sneak in our playbook.  We've run the quarterback sneak this year.
I think most people have that.  Again, it just all depends on who you are as an offense and what your personnel is, what gives you the best chance to be successful based on what you got.  That's just the bottom line.

Q.  As you look at this week here, looks like you had issues with red zone troubles, how do you try to address that during the open week?
COACH SWINNEY:  We look at all that weekly, what we did good, what we did bad.  Obviously we've had a few red zone miscues.  Early part of the year we missed a couple easy kicks.  We've turned the ball over.  We've had bad snaps.  Those are kind of self‑inflicted wounds certainly we can control.
We've taken a knee maybe a couple times.  This past week took a knee inside the 10 yard line.  All that stuff counts.  Again, we've had just some times where we went for it on fourth down, whatever, didn't make it.  So just a little bit of everything goes into your success there.
But we study that weekly.  I think we've had a good plan every week.  From time to time we may have made a bad call or two.  All of that stuff goes into your overall red zone success.
But definitely something that we pay close attention to.  We game plan relentlessly every week to try to give us the best opportunity to be successful down there.
We have to pull together as a group.  We've had some penalties.  Again, all those things affect your success.

Q.  Not trying to make an excuse, but how much do all the injuries hurt the continuity down there with so many guys in there?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, I mean, everybody has their own challenges.  Listen, we are who we are.  We don't make any excuse.  All I know is we're good enough with who we've got to be successful.  It's our job as coaches to get it done, period.
That's what we're trying to do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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