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November 25, 2014

Dabo Swinney

COACH SWINNEY:  Congratulations to Coach Noonan and our soccer team.  That's just awesome.  Proud of what they were able to accomplish last night and wish them great luck this weekend.
Hard to believe it's the last week.  I don't know where the season went.  It has been an incredibly fast year, and I just don't know where it's gone.  But I also want to wish everybody happy Thanksgiving this week.  Hope everybody gets a chance to spend some time with your families because life is short and it's all just a blink of an eye for all of us.  I know we're all living and dying with what's going on in this ballgame this week, but, man, life is precious.  Brandon Thomas's mom passed away yesterday morning, so he was able to fly home from San Francisco.  They thought she might have a day, but he actually had four or five days to be with his mom before she passed yesterday morning.  You know, it just puts a lot of things in perspective.  So I hope everybody will take some time this week to love and appreciate your family and to say "thank you" for the things that you're thankful for.
As far as SouthCarolina, obviously, this is a big game to everybody.¬† It's kind of a season of its own each and every year.¬† We all live and die with this one all year long.¬† SouthCarolina is an excellent team.¬† I don't think either one of us have the record right now that we wanted to have coming into this game, but they're a good football team.¬† If you look at ‑‑ really, really study them and look at the season in totality, they've had four very difficult losses, I mean, that could have gone either way.¬† So it's a play here, a play there and they've got nine, ten wins.
So it's been a tough season for them in that regard as far as some tough, close losses, and same thing with us.  Couple tough ones for us as well.
But offensively this is a really, really good offense.  Very experienced.  They've got great balance.  They're scoring 34 points a game.  They've thrown 25 touchdown passes.  They've had 21 rushing touchdowns.  So they do an excellent job in really creating the balance.  Dylan has had an excellent year.  Really knows their system.  A very experienced player.  Understands how to get rid of the ball.
They've got a stable of running backs.  I mean, all those guys can play.  Every one of them.  28, 22, 33, 7, they're all really good backs and have all had their moments for them throughout the year.
Bunch of vets upfront.  I think they're all back except maybe one as far as the guys that played against us last year.  Really, really talented OL, and that's really paved the way for them to have great success offensively this year.
Their receivers always got good skill.  No. 3 is not a very big guy, but he plays big.  He makes a lot of big plays in games in critical situations.  I think they've done a great job this year with 11, and he was a freshman for them last year.  But he has really become kind of a feature guy for them, a playmaker.
They run a ton of wildcat with 11.  He's thrown a couple touchdown passes.  He's gotten right around 1,000 yards receiving.  He averages about eight yards a rush, so he is a dynamic player as far as their other receivers.  They've got several guys that can make plays.
They do an excellent job involving their tight ends.  81 and 89 are two big, long guys that can run.  They can get down the field and stretch it on the vertical routes, the corner routes.
So I'm very impressed with what they've done defensively.  They're a young defense that's gotten better the latter part of the season here.  The last two games they've given up 12 points and 20 points.  So they are playing with more confidence.  I think they've only got three seniors that play for them over there on the defensive side.  So a young group, like I said, that's kind of had to grow up throughout the year.  Their defensive line is big, strong, physical, fit guys.  Most of those guys played against us last year and got a couple dynamic guys at linebacker.  Not sure, I know No. 1 is a guy I'm not sure he's going to play or not.  I know he got hurt last week, but anticipate they'll probably move No. 12 down the corner if he can't go.
But this is one of those games where just like you saw last year, special teams can impact it.  We had the two critical turnovers on punt return that led to two scores for them, and at the end of the day, that was the difference in the game.  Just critical that we are sound in the kicking game.  They've got excellent returners, No. 11 and No. 3 are very involved, and No.  7 in their return game, and a good kicker, and a good punter.
So biggest thing for us is just trying to finish.  It's the last week.  We want to finish better than we have, obviously, in the past several years.  For us to do that, we've got to do the things that give us a chance to win.  We have to play well and do the things that give us a chance, such as taking care of the football.  Last five years we've had 15 turnovers to their three.  They've scored 62 points off of those turnovers to zero.
So it's a critical factor and has been in this game.  Because it affects everything; it affects your field position and everything about the game.  Your time of possession and all that stuff.  So we've got to do the things that give us a chance.  Sounding the kicking game, take care of the football, minimize the big plays and give ourselves a chance to win it.  With that I'll take questions.
Before that I know everybody's going to ask about Deshaun.  He did practice yesterday in a green jersey.  Monday practice is a short practice.  We're only out there about an hour.  Today we'll find out a lot more.  We'll put him in a normal jersey, and he'll practice at normal tempo with the rest of the guys and we'll evaluate him and see where he is.
It really is a day‑to‑day thing, and I'm not trying to have some conspiracy or anything like that.¬† We just don't know.¬† And until we can go through and watch him practice the way he's got to practice to be able to play.¬† It may be a decision that's game time.¬† I don't know.¬† But he is getting better each day.¬† Hopefully he had a new brace on yesterday that he seemed pretty comfortable with.¬† So we'll see how he does today with some good, competitive work, good on good and stuff like that where the speed of the game is going to be a little better today.¬† So with that, I'll take your questions.

Q.  Even if he's not as mobile as he normally is and all, is he still your best option if he's able to play on Saturday?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, I think, again, as long as he can do the things that we need him to do to win the game, he's our starter.  I mean, he's proven that but he's got to be able to do those things.  We can't change our offense.  He's got to be able to play and execute.  He's got to be able to escape.  He has to be able to run our system.  Those are things that he has to demonstrate throughout the week of practice.

Q.  Does the pressure of this game continue to rise with each loss?  How important would it be to avoid a sixth one to feel less heat in this rivalry?
COACH SWINNEY:  It's always big.  We can win Saturday, and guess what?  Next year it will be just as big.  It's a big game every year.  It really is.  It's always pressure to win this game.  But nobody puts more pressure on themselves than what we do as a team in trying to prepare every week to win the game.  I mean, literally we want to win every single one of them.  Obviously this is the biggest of the season.  It's the last one, and we have not finished well.  It's something that we want to get corrected and turned around, and it only comes once a year.  You only get one shot.  It's not like basketball where you can play them again in a couple of weeks or something down the stretch.  We get one shot, once a year.  We certainly understand the disappointment when it doesn't go our way.

Q.  Of all the great things you've accomplished here and your team has accomplished here, does it haunt you at all that it's been five years and you haven't gotten this one big thing done that the fans so want to see?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† I'm disappointed and just as disappointed as anybody else.¬† But I don't sit around and just focus on the negative.¬† That's the society we live in, that's the world we live in where people‑‑ there are a lot of people out there that they're miserable people for that reason.¬† All they want to focus on is the negative.¬† That's it.¬† When you live your life that way, you're never going to be happy.
So no, I don't sit around and wake up every day miserable with life because we've got one major disappointment over the last few years.  We've done too many great things.  I know, I've been part of many rivalry games.  I know these things can be cyclical and we've just got to turn around.  You've got to be honest.  We understand reality and not the perception.  We know what the reality is.  The reality is we've lost five in a row, and nobody's happy about it.  We know why.  We know what we've got to do to turn that around, but we've got to go do it.
But to sit here and say that this one game completely discounts everything that's been accomplished at Clemson the last six years is crazy.  That's really a lack of respect for our players for what they've been able to do.  Because if it was easy to do what this group has done the last six years, it would have been done a lot more the previous 20, 30 years.
So I think that you certainly can't stick your head in the mud and just not pay attention to the negative.  I mean, we're always trying to get better, and this is an area we've got to get better.  There is no doubt about it.  But to say that it just takes away from everything we've accomplished, I think that's a very narrow way to look at it.

Q.  Dabo, I don't know how much you've looked at the entire history of the rivalry, but for most of that SouthCarolina just hasn't been very good, and lately they've had the best players and the best coach they've had by far.  What's it been like to go against Spurrier and the players he's had?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, God never said it would be easy.  And I always say, God never says "oops".  For whatever reason God chose me to be the head coach at Clemson in the greatest era in the history of SouthCarolina football.  I'm a competitive guy and obviously, Coach Spurrier's legacy speaks for itself.  He's a Hall of Famer.  He's a great football coach and has been for a long time.  He's won consistently.  To me, what he's done at SouthCarolina is his legacy because of what you're saying.
They've been really good.¬† That is the other thing.¬† Everybody just wants to get mad at Clemson.¬† Nobody wants to give SouthCarolina any credit.¬† They've been really good.¬† We've lost to Florida State the last couple of years, but everybody's lost to Florida State.¬† Nobody beat Florida State.¬† So it's something that those two games‑‑ but we finished in the top 10 two years in a row.¬† I think SouthCarolina finished in the top 10 maybe three years in a row.¬† They've had an incredible run, an incredible stretch.
You give them credit.  I don't like that, but we have to worry about Clemson and trying to get this thing turned back in the direction that we want it here.  But I certainly don't want to take anything away from SouthCarolina.  They've earned it.  They've earned it on the field.  They've earned it on that day, those four quarters.  At the end of the day, that's all that matters.  But they've been able to do it because Coach Spurrier has done a good job with his coaching staff, and they've had excellent players that have been really good winners for them.

Q.  Is there anything that you'd change as a head coach as far as your approach to this game given what's happened recently?  Maybe the mental approach or deflecting pressure away from your team, creating more pressure?
COACH SWINNEY:  There is no way to deflect pressure.  It's not like we live in a cave.  I mean, us coaches do, but these young players, I mean, we come in as coaches and we're a bunker mentality every week.  I mean, there are things that go on that I have no idea what's going on outside of these walls unless somebody tells me.  But our players don't live in that world.  We will get them 17 hours Monday through Friday, that's it, because three hours count on the game, that would be the 20.  So there are a lot more hours in the week than 17, where we can kind of lock them up.
So there's not‑‑ it is what it is.¬† If we don't like it, let's go change it.¬† We have a plan to win.¬† It doesn't change from week to week.¬† It is what it is.¬† Let's execute the plan to win.¬† Let's take ownership of what we've got to do to win each and every game.¬† But you can't ‑‑ in this day and age, you can't insulate your players from negativities.¬† You have to create a culture in your program that hopefully teaches your guys what's important, what's not important, what to listen to, what not to listen to and those type of things.

Q.  What's been the single most pleasant surprise defensively that you'd say you've seen the last three months?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Pleasant surprise?¬† Dorian O'Daniel.¬† That would probably be it.¬† Nothing really as far as production‑wise defensively.¬† As I told you in the beginning of the year, I felt like we were going to be a great defense.¬† I felt like we could be one of the best in the country.¬† I felt like we'd be much improved on the back end.¬† All of those things have played out and here we are in November.¬† But I've been pleasantly surprised with Dorian O'Daniel, and how he's turned the corner and gotten serious about being a good football player.¬† I think he has a bright, bright future moving forward.

Q.  I guess to that point, it's been more than three guys in the preseason?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, I mean all those guys, not a surprise, but I'm really happy that Tony Steward has had the year that he's had, and he's been healthy all year, and he's just flying around.  You wish a guy like that had another year.  It's good to see him play the way he's played.  He's been outstanding.  He'll have a chance to keep on playing because of what he's been able to do this year.
So it's never too late.  I know a lot of people wrote Tony off a long time ago because he's been through a tough journey, but you only need one good year.  But it's been very rewarding for him to see him perform and play the way he has this year.  Very proud of him and excited that he's back where we all wanted him to be when he got here.

Q.¬† Does Watson have to be at a hundred percent in your mind before you play him Saturday?¬† Let's just say‑‑
COACH SWINNEY:  No, he's not going to be at a hundred percent.

Q.  Is there a percentage?
COACH SWINNEY:  He's just got to be able to do the things that we need him to do to run our offense.  He doesn't have to be his 100%.  To be honest with you, very few players out there are 100%, when you're in your 12th game of the season, on either team.  But he's got to be able to execute on a high level for us, that's for sure.

Q.  A lot of the turnovers the last few years against these guys, dropped passes as well, uncharacteristic mistakes.  Looking back, do you think that's been the result of pressing?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† I don't know about that.¬† I think last year when I came home and watched the tape, I felt a lot better about the game.¬† Miserable that we lost, but the one thing we talk to our guys about all the time is don't worry about the scoreboard.¬† We can live with the results as long as we played the right way, how you play.¬† There can always be a couple of plays here or there or one or two individuals that can impact the whole game.¬† That is just the nature of a team sport.¬† But I really thought we played very well last year, really well.¬† I mean, we ran the football well.¬† We averaged 4 1/2 yards a carry.¬† Hot Rod had 100‑something yards rushing.¬† We did some nice things in the passing game.¬† Defensively the first half we weren't quite in the rhythm.¬† They did a good job on us on third down in the first half.¬† But second half we really played well defensively.
You know, you're really sick that you lost the game.  You go back and think you're going to see certain things, and it's like, well, daggum.  We really played well as far as how we have to play to give yourself a chance to win.  We just had a couple of crazy things.  But that's football.  Give them credit for that.
The last two at the end we're trying to go score quick kicking on side.¬† Those count but it's really those first four turnovers.¬† Even with three turnovers we're driving and we have a chance to go in and score and tie the game up even with three.¬† Tajh had a bust on that.¬† Same play we hit Martavis on earlier, it's wide open, and he for whatever reason read the wrong side, and he took off running, and had a decent run and he was fighting for extra yards and the ball comes out in the scrum.¬† That was a changing point in the game.¬† But we actually held them.¬† We actually defensively stopped them.¬† So we're getting the ball back.¬† We had a nice punt return about midfield.¬† The ball comes out right at the last second, so it was just kind of really just a few little plays that cost us, because it cost us possessions.¬† Where our defense got stops and we didn't possess the ball.¬† I mean, you have to get the ball back to have a chance.¬† So you look back, okay, we had 50‑something plays.¬† Why?¬† Were they stoning you?¬† No.¬† We really had a good plan. ¬†Executed well.
But that's football.  Sometimes that ball just doesn't bounce your way, and you give them credit for that because they did a good job of getting those balls out.  They kept Tajh up.  And he was probably that much from his knee being down.  Adam's got a great return.  The one earlier in the game, kind of like last week, falls out of the sky.  Hits Martavis, his guy hits him in the head, after we got the stop.  They've got a new possession, went on to get a score.  Those are some things that are hard to overcome, and they have not turned it over.  They've done a tremendous job of taking care of the football against us.
To say that guys were pressing, I don't think so.  I thought we played very well last year.  We just didn't take care of the ball.  It's all about the ball when you've got a good team.

Q.  Why do you have a countdown clock for this game?  Does that add to some of the pressure?
COACH SWINNEY:  We've talked about that before.  But that's actually something the coaches brought to me last year, the early part of spring.  Really just, again, it's not something that's ruined our six years here, but it's something that we've got to get changed.  So it really is a season of its own.  You have the season, and then you have SouthCarolina.  We don't say anything about it, never have.  But we want everybody to be reminded every day that, hey, that game is coming.  It only comes once a year, and it's something that we thought just to make sure that we kept it in front of our guys every day because, again, you can lose a game and couple months later you see people in the grocery store and they're not going to say anything about it.  But when you lose this one, and it never stops because it's something that everybody is really passionate about.  It's an honor to be part of such a great battle such as this.

Q.  For those of us who have never been part of this rivalry, can you go more into what it's like to be part of this rivalry?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, homes are divided.  People don't speak to each other this week, you know.  It's schools that are divided, friends don't talk.  Bragging rights.  I mean, that's what it is.  Everybody wants to brag about their team.  There is a lot of pride in both these universities with the fan bases.  Everybody wants to brag that their team won the game.  Especially as of late with the history of the rivalry, as we're talking about it, it's really been kind of lopsided.  SouthCarolina has kind of been on top and had a heck of a run.  That's just added a little fuel to it probably, as far as evening out both sides, as far as everybody having a little taste of both sides of it.
I've been on both sides, and I can tell you it's a lot better when you win in this state.¬† I hate that it's way.¬† I've had people come up to me and say, "You can go 1‑11 as long as you beat SouthCarolina."¬† But they'll be the first one trying to fire you.¬† You can go six straight against SouthCarolina, and go 6‑1‑11 and you're not going to be here very long.
You can't ever make everybody happy unless you win 'em all.¬† There are always going to be people disappointed.¬† That is just the nature of the deal here.¬† When you win this one, it makes it a much better off‑season.

Q.  Is your defense set up to still succeed after you lose all these seniors?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, absolutely.  I mean, that's why you recruit.  Everybody loses seniors.  Not going to close up shop.  I mean, we've got a bunch of good players back.  Shaq Lawson's a pretty good player.  He'll be back.  And D.J. Reader, and Carlos Watkins, and Kevin Dodd, and Martin Aiken, and Pagano.  We've got some good players.  We've just got to grow some guys up.
That's why you recruit.  We've got a great recruiting class coming in here.  We're going to be good with our front line.  We won't have what we have this year.  We've got a lot of talent, depth and experience, so we won't have quite the same amount of experience.  But I think when it's all said and done, we'll have good depth, we'll have good talent, but we'll have some youth that has to grow up.  We've got good linebackers coming back in Ben, and Kellen, and you're all going to love Korie Rogers and Kendall Joseph and Chris Register.  Y'all going to love them guys.  We have a couple guys coming in mid year.  Jalen Williams, and Chad Smith.  They're going to be joining us here in a few weeks.  We've got a lot of secondary guys back.
We're going to lose Robert, who has been a great leader for us.  But Jadar and T.J. Green have gotten some good experience, and they're on their way to being great players.  We've got a couple of freshmen corners that hadn't had a lot of opportunity yet that have really bright futures.  Garry Peters will be moving on.  So Martin, we're going to lose Martin.  We all know Martin's hadn't been on the field a lot anyway with injuries.
So, absolutely, we're built as a program to make a run.  To be very consistent.  I said that a few years ago.  That's kind of what we've done.  It's been a little bit of a transition year for us offensively.  But we still had a good year and got a chance to have a great year if we can finish this thing the right way.

Q.  Cole said after the Georgia Tech game he didn't practice any with the first team, and obviously he struggled in that game.  Has he given you any reps with the first team this week?
COACH SWINNEY:  Oh, yeah, he's taken all the reps with the ones.  Because, again, we're still trying to test the water with Deshaun.  It's a daily deal we're going through with him.  So we're going to prepare Cole to be the starter, and then we'll make the decision on Deshaun as we go through the week and see where he is at the end of the week.

Q.  With or without Deshaun, and I know you have to keep it in perspective.  Does what Tyshon did the other way give you additional hope for another weapon in this game?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Oh, absolutely.¬† Everybody wants to say he had a great game.¬† Well, how come he didn't do that the first game he came?¬† Why didn't he do that?¬† And that's a lack of understanding of the process this guy has had to go through.¬† He's not played.¬† Literally when he got back to practice, it was like the first time he practiced football in forever since those first three days of fall camp his freshman year.¬† Not only has he not practiced, no off‑season, no spring practices, no summer workouts, all rehab.¬† So you can't just throw a guy out there and say, "Go get 'em."¬† He's had no reps.¬† You can sit in a meeting room forever and ever and ever, but until you can actually go out and execute the ball handling, the alignments, the protection, it's a lot.
It's taken us a good three weeks first of all to get him in football shape, and also just to get him confident in what he needs to do.  He had still had a few missed assignments the other day, but he played well.
We really didn't know.  But I just felt like after watching him for three weeks okay, hey, we're ready to challenge this guy, and let's just force it.  So I told Tony, he's going in in the first quarter, and we'll just feed him and respond from there.  I didn't really know what to expect.  I didn't know if he'd go out there and completely be gassed or not have the right tracks, have a bunch of missed assignments.  I didn't really know.  But as he played, he got better and better, and you can see his confidence growing.
Absolutely, what he was able to do as he's built himself back into this thing, he's definitely a factor this week in the bowl game.¬† That's what we were all hoping.¬† We were hoping by the end of the year that Tyshon could be some type of factor.¬† I didn't know when he would play, but I knew he would play.¬† So we're encouraged by what we saw.¬† Obviously going against a whole different animal this week.¬† But we've gained more confidence in him in being able to go out and play and certainly with a month of bowl practice or however long we're going to get to practice for the bowl we'll go to, that's going to benefit him.¬† But nothing's going to benefit him like an off‑season.
But it's exciting.  I know it's been a hodgepodge this year.  Zac Brooks coming back.  Tyshon and Gallman, those two guys right there are going to be really special to watch them grow up.  I see our running back situation, It's kind of where of we were in the DL a few years ago, when everybody was talking about we didn't have any DL, and Grady and all them guys were freshmen, and sophomores and now they're full grown men.  I kind of see the same thing in our running backs.  I think over the next couple years we have a chance to become special at that position.  With Tyshon, and Gallman, and getting Zac Brooks back.  Zac was able to redshirt.  C.J. Fuller.  C.J. Fuller is going to be a heck of a player.  Nobody ever even talks about him.  I see him out on the practice field every day.  He's going to be a factor.  Obviously, Adam Choice, who became a starter for us this year.
So we've got some interesting pieces that we just haven't had the last couple of years that are on board, they're in the fold, but I'm excited about the future at that position.  We've got Jae'lon Oglesby, who is coming in to be a dynamic playmaker for us.  He'll start in January as well.  So it's a good group.  C.J. Davidson's got another year.  We've got some good people that are going to turn into really good backs.

Q.  What do you think about the noon kickoff?  Would you rather have a night game?
COACH SWINNEY:  Shoot, man.  Let's get up and play.  That clock's been ticking for a year.  That's just a few less hours that thing has to tick.  Let's go play.  Sit around all day to wait to play the game?  Let's go play.  It's Saturday night.  Everybody's either going to be happy or they're going to be really unhappy.  But we're going to go find out.  I'm excited about getting out on the field.  It's great to be at home.  I haven't looked at the weather yet, but hopefully it's a good day, so let's get up and go play.

Q.  The biggest challenge trying to slow down SouthCarolina's offense?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, the biggest challenge for us is taking care of the ball because that's been achilles heel in this game.  I can't even explain it and I'm not going to try to other than it's been a real problem for us.  So that is the biggest challenge.  Making sure that we do what we need to do.
But as far as their team, this offense that we're going to play, they're really good.  They've been good all year.  They've been consistent.  They've had explosive big plays in the run game and the pass game.  Like I said, Dylan, they put him in really good situations to be successful and doing the things he's comfortable with, they throw a lot of the smash verts and corner routes.  He throws a nice ball.  The timing of it.  He sits back there deep, he's six yards.  I mean, he's almost ten yards a lot of times when that ball is coming out.  So it's hard to get to him if he can stay in rhythm.
They've done a nice job.¬† Connor Shaw is gone, obviously, so they've created more of that element with 11.¬† He's brought‑‑ and he can throw the ball.¬† So you can't just say we're going to run the Wildcat and not going to throw the ball.¬† He threw one against us last year.¬† I think we had a pass interference on that play.
They've just done a nice job of running their system.¬† Kind of like we are defensively, they've got a lot of veterans, a lot of experience.¬† So from a match‑up standpoint, I think there are a lot of similarities with the teams.

Q.  Spurrier hasn't said definitely what his coaching plans are.  You think this might be the last time you face off against him?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Heck no.¬† Coach Spurrier's going to coach until he's a hundred.¬† First of all, my father‑in‑law is 70.¬† My dad is 70, and they don't look like Coach Spurrier, I can tell you that.¬† He's done a nice job of taking care of himself, and I think he can coach as long as he wants to.¬† He's got a great staff.¬† G.A. and Junior, they're huge factors for what they do offensively and Shawn Elliott and those guys.¬† Defensively he's got a good staff.¬† He's got good people around him, and he's been there long enough to where he's got his systems in places and his processes.¬† You know, they're recruiting good, so I think he'll coach as long as he wants to and go out on his terms, and he deserves to be able to do that.
I'd be very surprised.  I hope not.  I need a few more years.  I've got to try to catch him before he gets out of here.

Q.  Do you enjoy the challenges of going up against a guy like Coach Spurrier?
COACH SWINNEY:  Absolutely.

Q.  Even though he'll throw some jabs in from time to time?
COACH SWINNEY:  Absolutely.  I'm a competitor.  I didn't get here by not being a competitor.  I love to compete.  It doesn't matter what it is.  I'll go against Manny out there in noon ball.  I want to win.  And I ain't happy when the other team gets to 7 before we do.  I want to win in everything.
It's an honor.  It's awesome to compete against the best.  That's why I went to Alabama.  I wanted to play at the highest level, and I thought that I could, and I wanted to prove that I could.  To go there and earn a scholarship was a great accomplishment, and something I've always cherished and never forgotten that day because I know how hard I worked to get there.
I wasn't afraid to fail, you know?¬† I think that is the key.¬† When you put yourself‑‑ you can't be afraid to fail.¬† If you're afraid to fail, you're never going to accomplish anything great.¬† You look at every great winner out there, all of them, they all had big losses, big defeats, but they didn't get discouraged by that.¬† They got better.¬† That's what I've always tried to do.¬† So you get an opportunity to compete against the best of the best, yeah.¬† You know, I'm only 45, so to have this opportunity this early in my career to go against some of these guys is special.
I remember when I was at Alabama playing, we played Penn State in '89 and '90.  I can remember standing over there as a young guy saying, man, that's Joe Paterno.  I grew up watching him.  That's Joe Paterno.  It's just amazing to me.  Same thing when I was playing.  Coach Spurrier was coaching at Florida.  He was probably about my age.  Maybe a couple years older when he was coaching at Florida.  You know, I'm playing against him.  So until now to have an opportunity to coach against him after all that he's done is exciting.
Coach Bowden, getting a chance to coach against Coach Bowden, and Coach Richt, and Coach Miles, and Urban Meyer, and all of those guys that we've had a chance to go against.  Coach Beamer.  I mean, I've had a real privilege to coach against some of the best coaches in this business that have been doing it a long time.  Paul Johnson, they've been doing it a long, long time.
So 15 years from now I'm going to be the old guy, and there will be some other whipper snappers that are playing right now that will be coaches, and hopefully you'll all be asking them that question about me.  That would be great.

Q.  Has his chatter helped amp this up a little bit?
COACH SWINNEY:  Maybe with the fans.  But like I said, that's Coach Spurrier.  He's been that way forever.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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