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September 13, 2017

Dave Clawson

Greensboro, North Carolina

DAVE CLAWSON: We're looking forward to being back at home. Certainly pleased with our effort on the road last week against BC, and any time in this conference you can go on the road and find a way to win, it's a good Saturday. But as always, we've got to turn the page. Utah State I think is a very improved team. We played them out in Logan a couple years ago, and they beat us pretty bad. They're an older team. They've got 30 juniors and seniors in their two deep. They have an experienced quarterback, some playmakers on offense, physical on defense, and so it'll be another good challenge for us. Like I said, we're excited to be home and have our home fans here and ready to go.

Q. You played Utah State a couple years ago. What do they look like for playing them on Saturday? Do they look differently or are they the same?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, I mean, in some ways similar. Offensive scheme wise they're similar. You know, they have a new coordinator on offense, but they're still very much a spread, up-tempo, the quarterback is very athletic. They get rid of the football very, very quick. It's really hard to get a pass rush on them, especially off the edge. They've got really big splits.

And defensively they're very multiple. They do everything, every coverage. It's one of those games that the breakdown sheet is three pages long. They do a lot of different things. They'll play some odd front, some even front, a lot of man coverage, all the different zones. It's very hard to prepare for all this in a week. They were an older team three years ago, and they're an older team again now. Like I said, they've got 30 juniors and seniors in the two deep, and they do a fair amount of junior college recruiting, so their roster will turn over quicker than most, so there's not a lot of players that we faced three years ago. I think the tailback, one -- the defensive end and probably the corner are the only three guys that played in that game in 2014.

Q. And talk about your quarterback, about his improvement this year. Looks like he's doing really well the first two games. What are you liking seeing from him this year?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, he's been very efficient. We're taking care of the football, and when he has to make plays, he's making plays with his arm or with his legs. On Saturday against BC, we ran him probably more than we ever have, and he was good with that. But I just think he's improved, but I also think all the pieces around him are improved. It's hard for a quarterback to function if he's not being protected or guys aren't getting open, and I think, again, this has been a little bit of a slow build, but we've been basically playing with all the same offensive players for three years, and these guys are all growing up together.

Q. Not to not ask you about your team, but I'm doing something on Lamar Jackson, and last year was a little bit of huge hype and some struggles down the stretch, and you guys at least through three quarters last year played him as well as anybody. What was your mentality going into that game of slowing down someone with his skill set and what proved effective and ineffective for you guys when you got on the field to do it?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, he's going to make plays. It's not a matter of if, it's when. You know, in that game, we got some 3rd down stops, which got him off the field, and then in the fourth quarter he really broke it open on us. Again, he's one of the very best players that we've faced in our time here. He can beat you with his feet. He can beat you with his arm, and the thing that I noticed about him last year as compared to the year before is just his ability to read coverage and have the ball go to the right spot I think was really improved a year ago from 2015. From what I hear, it's even better this year. He's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and he's the best if not one of the very best players in all of college football.

Q. You've also faced off against that Clemson defensive front, which may be even better this year, as well. Just as sort of a fan of the sport, what do you take away from a match-up where you've got a quarterback with Lamar's skill set and a defense like Clemson is able to bring to the table?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, the one thing I take away from it is that I'm glad that I don't have to watch those films this week. I mean, I think someone told me Clemson had 11 sacks against Auburn.

Q. Yeah.
DAVE CLAWSON: So I mean, I've never heard that before. Clemson is just one of those teams that you look at their depth chart, and they have guys graduate and guys go to the NFL, and then the very next year they're just as good if not better in all those spots. So they're just in that mode of not rebuilding but reloading, and it should be a great game this week that you have arguably the best player in college football going against one of the best units in college football.

Q. A lot of people can't really tell who does well up front for you, particularly in the offensive line, and I know it's very early in the season, but who has shown the most improvement there for you?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, I just think that whole group collectively has gotten better. I mean, you know, we had three returning starters in Phil Haynes, Justin Herron and Ryan Anderson, and those guys have picked up their game every single year, and Patrick Osterhage and Jake Benzinger have stepped in nice, Mike Allen is going to become a good player for us, Je'Vionte' Nash is playing well. We've got a little bit of depth there, we have some experience, and just collectively as a unit, I think they're much more on the same page.

You're not hurting my feelings if you cut it early.

Q. Coming off that win against Boston College on the road and to win that decisively, what did that tell you about where this program might be for this season? Are you ahead of -- what can you glean from to have that decisive road win at this point in the season?
DAVE CLAWSON: Well, I mean, it was a good win. I think earlier in the year, it's hard to say that because you win a game that, boy, now you've arrived and now you're good. I think if anything that game told us what we already knew, that if you win the turnover margin, if you're good in the red zone and you can get off the field on 3rd downs, you have a great chance of winning the game, and that really to me was the game, that we won the turnover margin 4-0, so our defense did a great job of disrupting the football and getting turnovers. Our offense took care of it. We were 4 of 4 in the red zone, and our defense was really good on 3rd down. You know, we need to continue to win situational football. We need to continue to take care of the football. If we do that, we'll give ourselves a chance to win a lot of games, and we did that on Saturday.

If you look at the stats, we only out-gained BC by four yards, so it's not as if we dominated the whole game and we went up and down the field and they couldn't move it against us. We were very opportunistic on offense and defense, and like I said, our defense did a really good job getting off the field on 3rd downs.

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