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November 12, 2014

Dabo Swinney

DABO SWINNEY:  Proud of our guys for a good win last Thursday night.  In a game that I thought Wake Forest played extremely well in.  Our guys really fought hard.  Again, got it done up there in a hard‑fought game.
Excited about getting back on Saturday rotation here this week, heading down to Atlanta.  This is a very tough challenge for us, one we're looking forward to.  Georgia Tech is one of the best offenses in the country.  They're averaging a little over six yards a carry and scoring 38 points a game, about 20 yards a catch, and defensively they're creating a bunch of turnovers.  I think they've created 11 turnovers in the last two or three ballgames.  Special teams, excellent in that area as well.
So a big challenge for us, and we've got a lot of respect for their program.  It's a place that we have not particularly played well as of late.  So we're looking forward to going down and hopefully playing our best game of the year.  With that, I'll take your questions.

Q.  Wayne Gallman is someone I talked to you about him before.  Earlier in the season you said you wanted to see him grow and give him some opportunity.  Obviously, in this last game he was able to get over 100 yards and has been profitable for the offense.  What can you say about kind of his growth and what you've seen?
DABO SWINNEY:  He's just greatly improved as the season has progressed.  Back‑to‑back 100‑yard games.  We're hoping he can continue to build upon that.  He's really become a much more complete player for us as far as our comfort in trusting him in the passing game and his pass protections.  That's an area that he has really improved.
He made some big plays in the passing game last Thursday as well, obviously in the running game.  We're just really excited about Wayne Gallman and the progress he's made this year, and we know he's just going to continue to get better because he really cares and he's a very conscientious young man that's going to do everything you ask him to do.  I know with his work ethic and commitment, he's going to just continue to blossom for us throughout his career.
So we're really, really excited.  He's been a bright spot for us for sure.

Q.  Then when you look at the defensive side of it, obviously, Beasley gets a lot of respect for everything that he can do, but who are some of those other guys that you really feel have helped you get out of some of those binds this season that maybe weren't talked about going into the season that you've been able to lean on a little bit on the defensive side?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, it's a collective effort over there.  I think, first of all, you can look at our two corners, Garry Peters and Mackensie Alexander.  Those two guys have really done a great job for us this year, very, very consistent.  Mackensie has quietly really had a great year as a redshirt freshman.  He gave up that big play right at the beginning of the game against Florida State, and really since then he's been a very disciplined player for us.
Robert Smith is another guy, and Jayron.  All those guys on the back end, that's the most improved part of our team.  And a guy like Tony Steward.  We all talk about Stephone, but Tony Steward has had a great year.  A guy like DeShawn Williams up front.  Tavaris Barnes has made some big plays this year.
It's been a pretty collective group.  We came out of a bunch of games.  One game we had 13 tackles for loss with about 12 different guys.  It's just been kind of spread out amongst kind of our two deep and our front seven.  And then mostly those starters in the secondary.  Those guys have done a great job.
And then a guy like Jadar Johnson and T.J. Green have also made significant contributions for us as well.

Q.  Good morning.  You've seen your offense with Deshaun Watson and without Deshaun Watson this year.  How do you think Deshaun Watson perhaps makes that whole offense better?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, I just think that what we saw as we got into the season is that he just really brought a dimension that really only he had the ability to bring.  Those are things that, like I said, until the lights are on and you're in live situations, some of those things are harder to evaluate, the game‑day instincts and all that kind of stuff.
But just his ability to really run the football, that's the biggest thing that he brings.  I mean, he obviously can throw the ball, make all the throws, but the dimension of‑‑ and the threat that he brings as far as in the running game and his escapability in the passing game and his ability to extend plays, that's one of the things that makes him a very special player.

Q.  You guys have not lost to Georgia Tech in some time.  What's the single biggest key to continuing that success against the Yellow Jackets this week?
DABO SWINNEY:  We've got to win the turnover margin.  That's just the bottom line.  This is a team that controls the clock.  If you give them a short field‑‑ listen, it doesn't matter where you give them the ball.  You can give them the ball backed up on the ‑1 yard line, they still score almost 38 percent of the time from there.  So they're on offense that scores, but if you give them a short field you're in for a long day.
And that's what happened when we lost down there in 2011.  We had five turnovers, and we just couldn't overcome it.  It's just hard to beat anybody when you lose the turnover margin, but when you play a team like Georgia Tech that is really, really good in what they do offensively and their style of play and they limit you with your possessions already.  I think they're allowing the opponent to have just over ten possessions a game.  There was one game the opponent had like 14 plays in the second half.
So we have to maximize our opportunities.  I think last year we had 14 possessions against them.  So we did a nice job.  You can't have three and outs.  But the biggest thing, the number one thing is you've got to win that turnover margin.  That's offensive guys taking care of it, special teams guys taking care of it, and those defensive guys creating some extra possessions by getting some turnovers.

Q.  Coach, just wanted to ask you, with Georgia Tech, it's become‑‑ are you looking at this game especially for you as your first game as a head coach?  Is this you and Paul Johnson‑‑ I think he's 3‑4, when you were against Georgia Tech, the rivalry that this has had over the years and even before your time.  Do you look at this as one of the top rivalries that you guys play?
DABO SWINNEY:  Oh, yeah, I don't think there's any question‑‑ it's, again, a game that, with Clemson‑Georgia Tech is forever, has always been a big game, and there's been some great, great games that have come down to the wire in dramatic fashion and been decided in dramatic fashion.  I've been a part of a couple of those myself.  But it's just one of those games, and that kind of cross‑rival for us that, I think, the fans like, and obviously we're not very far from each other.
And then with what's happened over the last few years, we kind of right out of the gate got off to a tough start, but we've rallied, and we've won three out of the last four.  Hopefully, we can continue that trend.

Q.  When you take on Georgia Tech, I know Georgia Tech runs the option.  Does that mess up your whole game plan the week after you play Georgia Tech?  I know Notre Dame had a huge problem playing Navy, and then they played an Arizona State team last week.  Does that affect your team after playing an offense like that?
DABO SWINNEY:  I don't think so at this stage.  I think we've been playing kind of‑‑ I don't know what the word is, but just kind of, I guess, traditional football, offenses all year long, and we see a little bit of everything from week to week.
But this is the one week that's just totally different from what you see all year as far as how you coach and how you practice and the fundamentals that you do at practice.  I mean, it's just very, very different.  For us, if it was the first time, it would be more of a challenge, but we do play them every year.  Some of the other teams in our league that don't play them every year, might be a little different for them.  But we play them every year.  It's something we work on all year.  We work on cut blocks all year, all season.  We do cut block drills, something we emphasize in the spring, fall camp, during our open days.
We're always preparing our guys for what they're going to see, and this is just kind of part of it.  And then when we get into the full game prep, it's a little more extensive.
So I don't think so.  I think, when this one's over, they'll come back in on Monday, and they've already played some games, and we just kind of pick up.  Offensively, they understand this is kind of a season of its own.

Q.  That's true.  Also, what's it like playing down there in Atlanta with that beautiful old stadium they play there at Georgia Tech?  What's the atmosphere like playing there?
DABO SWINNEY:  It's a good place.  I love going down there.  It's a good place to go play.  It's obviously a unique setting because you've got these huge buildings that are sticking up all around right there in the heart of Atlanta.  But it's a nice campus.  It's always a great environment when it's Clemson‑Georgia Tech, that's for sure.

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