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September 7, 2016

Dabo Swinney

Greensboro, North Carolina

DABO SWINNEY: Well, really proud of our team. Incredibly difficult challenge to open the season, to go to Auburn, an 8:00 kickoff, and a lot of unknowns, and to find a way to win the game, really, really proud of our guys. You know, to win a close game. I think we're 12-2 when the game is decided by seven points or less, and I think that's a great testament to the mental toughness of our guys, so that was a hard-fought victory.

But moving forward for us, just trying to improve and develop our team. Really happy to be at home. We've played five games in a row away from Clemson, so we're glad to be at home in front of the home folks here for the next couple weeks, and getting ready for Troy.

Troy is an incredibly well-coached team, very impressed with what I've seen on tape, a team that I think is going to beat a lot of people and probably beat some people they're not supposed to beat, and we're going to have to play well.

For us, it's about Clemson and just trying to create a little bit more precision than we had last week in some of the things that we're doing and just continuing to grow our strengths and improve the weaknesses that we saw from game one and see if we can just find a way to win this one this week. That's the objective.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q. Dabo, you talked about finding a way to win that game, and I'm wondering, with so little separation between the top teams in the country, do coaches at the top feel more pressure not just to win but to win as we like to say convincingly?
DABO SWINNEY: I mean, I don't. I don't know about other people. I think that with our schedule, if we win every game by one point and we're 13-0, I think we'll be just fine. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

Q. What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase "style points"?
DABO SWINNEY: Not a real understanding of how hard it is to win, to be honest with you.

Q. When you talk about improvements, on the offensive side of the ball, what did you kind of look at the film and use as a teaching tool to your guys and say we left some points on the board here or here, and how did you use the game to teach the offense?
DABO SWINNEY: Just finishing on a few plays. We played very well up front on the offensive line, gave up zero sacks. We only had three tackles for loss in the game; one was on the running back, one was on us as coaches, and one was on the OL. Great communication by our guys up front, and you know, you don't really know going into the game how they're going to play. They played a lot of man coverage, and so we -- everybody, we went to the throwing game, and we had -- Mike Williams had 174 yards, but probably should have had about 260. He had three big drops and a fumble, and so three of those drops were touchdowns.

So we just missed on a few plays that we're going to make. Mike Williams makes those plays. He made a lot of great three-pointers as I told him, but he missed some slam dunks, and they all count when people are playing you that way. So just cleaning up some things.

Obviously the ball security, we had two turnovers, we had a couple of tipped balls that cost us possessions where we didn't get the lineman's hands down, so just some little things, but we had zero offsides outside of the first play of the game our tight end jumped offsides, but not one offsides by our offensive line in that environment. That is incredible discipline by those guys.

And then, you know, with 3:20 to go in the game and it's a tight game, you get the ball backed up and you march down the field when you had to have it. I think that was a real positive. The biggest thing is just the turnovers and just finishing on some of those plays that are there to be made. I think that's the biggest thing.

Q. I'm just curious, it's easy to second-guess and everything, but can you talk about the sequence at the end of the game where you had the ball, what you're thinking, why you passed up the field goal, what's going through your mind during that stretch?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, what was going through our mind in that stretch is the game was going to end. We felt like if we ran it on 3rd down that we were going to be able to end it on 4th down and not leave them any time as opposed to taking a knee on 3rd down. If we took a knee, we felt like there was going to be a few seconds left, and we felt like we could end it. Obviously our running back made a mistake and went out of bounds, so now you're forced with the decision do you kick the field goal, and the decision in that game I would make 100 times out of 100 all over again because we -- collectively all of us, we talked about it, and we had just had a snap where our holder had to stand up to catch the snap, so they had no time-outs, 40 seconds, and they had not shown any ability to move the ball throwing the football on us.

We just felt like that was the safer route in that moment, in that game with those dynamics that were involved. Again, I'd make that decision again.

Now, most of the time with 40 seconds left, you probably would kick it, but it was going to be a desperation block. It's not like they were going to play for a fake, and we just -- if they do block it, they could scoop and score. If they block it, they could get great field position, and again, we had just kicked one low, and we had had a really high snap that was a miracle that our holder got it down.

I went with our defense. I thought our defense had played great. I had more confidence in what I had seen in our defense in that game, and so that was the decision.

I mean, it's just -- that's the way it is, and we won the game. Disappointing that we let them get to midfield. I mean, they had to go 82 yards, I think. I think they got to midfield and had a chance to take a Hail Mary, but again, with that game, those circumstances, those dynamics, we'd make the exact same decision. Some people don't like that answer, but that's the truth.

Q. Do you think you learned more about your team being in this situation against a team like Auburn than you would have if you had opened against an FCS team or somebody you could just manhandle?
DABO SWINNEY: I don't think there's any question about that. I mean, I think it's always good when you win those type of games, obviously. It's very difficult, when you have a Notre Dame-Texas, when you have an Oklahoma-Houston, when you have a Clemson-Auburn, an Alabama-Southern Cal. When you play those type of games, they're tough ones to win, and when you win, it's great. But some of those teams that lost, they still learned a lot about their team, as well. I think when you get in those type of situations you can find out really what you got done in camp and kind of where you are because you're challenged at an extreme level, as opposed to opening up with a team that you roll out there and dominate.

So I think the experience for us is great, no question about it. We're going to have to go back on the road in some more tough places down the road, and to have that under our belt early where they found a way to win, I think that bodes well for our team.

I definitely think we learned a lot about our guys and a lot of great things about our team. So now we also know some areas that we need to improve, and then we've got to develop in some of those areas the first part of this season here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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