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November 2, 2016

Dabo Swinney

Greensboro, North Carolina

COACH SWINNEY: Excited to be back at home this week coming off a tough trip down to Tallahassee, and we're looking forward to competing against a very good Syracuse team. Dino has done a great job with this program and in watching them, studying them this week, real easy to see the how the guys have bought in. They have gotten better all year long. They are coming off two big wins and an open date to prepare for us, as well.

We've got a big challenge this week. Offensively they have got three receivers with over 40 catches just throw it all over the place. Do a great job with their scheme. Quarterback is very good. They play very fast. Big challenges there.

Defensively, very multiple with what they do, especially from a coverage standpoint. So this is a dangerous football team, playing with a lot of confidence.

And for us it's just trying to continue to improve. I think that we're obviously happy to be undefeated but we've still got a lot of room for improvement and a lot of little things that we can do better, and that's what our focus is, is to try to improve and clean some of those little things up and just play our best game this week.

It's Military Appreciation Day here at Clemson and that's always a great event here. We're just again looking forward to getting the month of November kicked off right here in the Valley.

Q. Being the No. 2 team in the country, the common man expects you to just show up and win, but people that follow college football know that's not the case. How hard is it to win in the ACC against a divisional rival?
COACH SWINNEY: It's incredibly difficult. I mean, I have a great appreciation for these guys and how they continue to just battle and find ways to win games different ways. And just like the other night, we were at our best when we needed to be. When we needed a drive, we had it. When we needed a kick, we had it.

It's very difficult to be a very consistent program. We've won nine in a row on the road, and that doesn't sound like a lot. But the reason that's a record here is it's really hard to do because there's a bunch of good teams in this league, and always have been.

So it's a challenge every single week, every single week and that's why to be consistent, you have got to have a true plan of preparation that you believe in and you've got to stay committed and focused and put everything that you've got into each game. That's the only way you're going to be consistent.

Q. Virginia Tech knocked off North Carolina and was beaten by a very motivated Syracuse team. Have you made your team aware that this isn't an opponent that can't be overlooked?
COACH SWINNEY: Oh, yeah, absolutely. You just turn the tape on and they handled V-Tech pretty good, they really did. Played well and then they come back and beat Boston College at BC. Again, now they have got an open date. They are really playing with a lot of confidence. There's no doubt about it. Our guys have a lot of respect for Syracuse.

They did a good job against us last year, especially offensively, they hit a lot of big plays on us.

Q. Clemson started out as a military institution and you have Military Appreciation Day this Saturday. How special is that a game for your players and yourself?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, I've been here a long time now, and so I've had the real privilege of being a part of many of these Military Appreciation Days.

And I guess what I would say is, you know, here at Clemson -- and I have such a great respect for everyone out there who honors our military and takes a day and tries to designate that and celebrate that.

But really, I'm just checking a box here. It is an event at Clemson, and a lot of that, again, is because of the roots of our school, being that military school, and such a long history, so many veterans that are Clemson alums.

It's a special time and I try to take some time each year to try to educate our guys a little bit and get them to understand what their roots of this program are from a military standpoint. It's a very proud university, and again, our people and administration do a phenomenal job of pulling it all together. It's always very special.

Q. I know the last thing that Deshaun is worried about at this point is post-season awards and stuff like that, but as we kind of get into November, I'm sure a lot more Heisman talk happens. How much do you think that winning that award in the big picture in the long term would mean for him?
COACH SWINNEY: Oh, I'm sure it would mean an awful lot. To be recognized -- it meant a lot last year to be honored, even though he didn't win. You know, he's one of three guys there. That's pretty amazing to have that opportunity. It would certainly mean a lot.

But I promise you if you ask him what he wants to win, he wants to win every game. That would be his No. 1 thing, and if that happens, people, it's very subjective, and if people think that he's the Heisman, that would be great, too.

Pretty easy for me, but his focus, I promise you is on just trying to win each every week, and nobody does that better than Deshaun. Just a special guy. But it would be great. But it's really not a focus. He's just trying to, again, continue to find a way to get to 1-0 each week.

Q. His numbers through eight, nine games this year, are not a whole lot different than last year's. Have you actually sat there and broken down the film and watched him? Does he look like a different player this year than last year?
COACH SWINNEY: No question. He's a better player. I kind of laugh, but I guess he's a victim of his own success. Some of the people that want to suggest that he has not played as well and this and that. It's just laughable to me.

First of all, this guy has been clutch. As I say, he's not a robot. He makes mistakes. He'll miss a throw here and there but there's nobody out there that doesn't. But it's what he does do, that's what I look at, and it's unbelievable how he has led this team.

His leadership has been incredible. His poise, no big deal to take the ball for three minutes and 23 seconds and just take the air out of it, at Jordan Harris (ph), that opening game, that was kind of a lot of drive that nobody talks about, and he took this team right down the field.

And then the Louisville, the 85-yard drive in that game, and then obviously the other night. He's just been there. The overtime -- it's just amazing. You know, he throws a Pick-Six against NC State and comes back and hits 14 straight completions. He's just unbelievable.

He just has a toughness to him and a poise, and again, a leadership quality that is very uncommon. It's just hard to describe until you experience it. I mean, he's special. But he's played very well. He's better than he was last year. And he's still got room for improvement, and I don't have any doubt he'll be at his best when we need him to be.

Q. What do you see about your pass defense to explain why it's been so stingy this year?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, we're just really good up front. We've got a bunch of good offensive linemen. We have very good chemistry. I think that's very important. But obviously they have got to be talented enough and they are.

Q. I was talking about your pass defense.
COACH SWINNEY: Oh, I thought you were talking about our pass protection. Same thing. Different side. We're very talented in the defensive line.

We really try to -- our thing with Dan Brooks and Marion Hobby, we're always talking, hey, go play in somebody else's yard. We're always talking about playing on their side of the line of scrimmage, and we're very well-coached there. Dan and Marion do an unbelievable job. We've recruited well, and they do a great job of developing them well.

And then our coaches and Coach V, they do an unbelievable job with our scheme and how we pressure but at the end of the day it comes down to winning your matchups and we've got just a bunch of good players and we have depth to where we're able to rotate some guys.

And then we have guys that are playing very well for us on the back end, you know, which allows us when we do bring some pressure to be able to hold up playing man coverage and allow us to get there and bring those extra guys to pressure the quarterback.

So it's a combination of all those things and we've been very consistent -- I think we've either led the nation in tackles for loss or been in the top two or three for the last several years, and this year is no different.

Q. You said last year, Syracuse played you closely, but Eric Dungey wasn't playing that game and it was a different coaching staff and different system. Is there anything that you can take away from that game or is it just completely new?
COACH SWINNEY: I mean, their schemes are very different. Defensively last year and for the previous few years, they were a really high-pressure blitz, cover zero a lot type of a team. It was a high risk, high reward type of a scheme. And then offensively obviously they were very different. They still did some things but they got into some quarterback runs.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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