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October 4, 2017

Dabo Swinney

Greensboro, North Carolina

DABO SWINNEY: Well, first of all, really proud of our guys. What a great win up at Virginia Tech, and just an awesome ballgame to be a part of in a great environment up there. But got another tough one this week with this Wake Forest team. 4-1, very, very talented, and on both sides of the ball, probably one of the most experienced teams we've seen in a while. I think they've got 19 starters back. Very well-coached, and it's going to be a big challenge for us here in the Valley this week. But glad to be back at home. It's homecoming for us, and a lot of fun things going on through the week here, and looking forward to a great environment to play this one in.

Q. What have you learned as a head coach about how to get consistency from your guys? You guys talk about it all the time, but as you've gone on to become veteran in this profession, what have you learned about how to do it?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, does this mean this is going to be the only question for the day, because that's going to be a long answer. The biggest thing is just consistency in your preparation, how you go about things. Like I say, we talk about it all the time. We don't talk about the opponent very much at all around here. We get ready for the opponent, but it's really always about us. It's about our preparation. We have routines that we believe in from a coaching standpoint as far as what we do Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday as a coaching staff and even on game day, and then our players, they're off on Sundays, but we have a very systematic approach to how we practice and how we get ready and just the messaging to our guys and just really truly making every game the biggest game, and that's something that we just walk the walk.

And then you've got to have good players. You've got to recruit well. You've got to have consistency in evaluation. There's so many things that go into consistency. But that's, like I said, a long answer for me, but that's a short version there.

Q. Has it gotten more difficult, though, because of so much focus on the Playoff from the outside?
DABO SWINNEY: No, because we don't talk about the Playoff. That's never a goal. It's nowhere in our building. It doesn't say anywhere in our building it's a goal to win the National Championship. It doesn't say it anywhere in our building. We literally are on a quest for best every single year, and that's to be the best that we can be. I measure that by the daily commitment, the focus, how the guys work, the chemistry, the leadership, the issues off the field, commitment to what we require of them academically, from their study halls and tutor appointments, just every little thing like that, that's how I measure the success of a team.

Other people in the outside world, they measure the success based on a scoreboard, but I don't. Never have. We have our goals. We have our player goals, and we have our team goals, and they don't change. And again, they're set up to allow us to compete at the highest level, but there's nothing on there that says, oh, we didn't make the Playoff, we didn't make the National Championship so we feel like we had a bad season. That's just not how we go about our business around here. We just put everything we've got into each and every game and really truly have a windshield mentality of, okay, what's next, and whether you had a big loss or a big win, we just move on to the next one and try to -- we get 12 opportunities, and we try to maximize them and have fun doing it.

And then as long as you're putting your best foot forward, which is what we constantly are evaluating and holding them accountable to, you can live with whatever results you get.

Q. I feel like the ACC kind of has a little bit of a wealth of riches when it comes to defensive fronts, and Wake I think maybe gets overshadowed a little bit by some of the other bigger name guys, but as you've watched the film of them, where do you put their defensive line, and what kind of challenges do they pose for you?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, I mean, as I said in my press conference yesterday, I'd put them kind of right there with Auburn. These guys are active. They're deep. They're good all the way across the front. I mean, I'm watching tape, and I'm like, okay, well, who's that guy. I'm like, all right, dang, 51, he's third-team guy. They've just got a bunch of guys that can go in and play, and they're very well-coached.

But as I said yesterday, I just appreciate seeing a team that plays relentless and really you can tell by then who they are, and they care. They play very smart. They're very, very seldom out of position. I mean, you have to out-execute them, and you have to physically win the match-up because they're going to bring it. They're going to play with great intensity, great discipline, and they're going to roll their depth in there. So this is a front that's pretty dadgum good. Like I said, 17 tackles for loss against Florida State, and I guess they lead the nation in TFLs per game. That's no fluke. This is a really good group that's going to win a bunch of games this year. I just hope we ain't one of them. They're going to win a bunch of games. They're going to be a tough out every single week.

Q. I know you just talked about looking forward, but if you could look back for one second for me, your defensive line against Virginia Tech's offensive line on Saturday night, how did you evaluate their play and their ability to control the line of scrimmage?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, that was a critical factor because they want to run the ball. There's just no question about that. If you really study them, most of their explosives are going to be built through having some success running the ball. You know, especially the quarterback; he's the leading rusher. So that was a critical part. I mean, we were going to have to win that match-up. I thought our guys did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage and really never let them get in any type of rhythm being able to establish anything in the run game.

And so that was definitely a critical part of it.

Q. You have four guys up front there that probably when people watch them on film determine they deserve a double team or at least some help. How have you seen people kind of approach the depth of talent you have up front?
DABO SWINNEY: I mean, I think the biggest thing is they just try to give their team a chance to be successful doing what they do. I mean, I think that's good coaching week in and week out. Very seldom are you going to see a team just completely abandon what they do offensively. I think that sends a message to your players. But the main thing is people have tried to come out and take some shots down the field early, throw the ball early, try to loosen us up a little bit, and play with tempo, things like that. I mean, we've seen a little bit of everything. We've seen some option, a lot of quarterback run to try to get an extra hat in the run game, a lot of misdirection to try to slow the speed of our guys up front down. You know, you see a lot of boots and a lot of jet sweeps and things, again, just trying to neutralize a defender without really having to block him.

I mean, we've seen it all, and we practice against good people every day, so that, I think, is the biggest thing that helps us.

Q. There's an old football mantra that goes, offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. Is that still the case?
DABO SWINNEY: No, not for me. Never has been. I think teams win championships. That's kind of how I've always viewed that. You know, I don't think in today's world you can just get it done with one phase. I think teamwork and intelligence, that's what wins championships. And character.

Q. On your first touchdown, it didn't look like a read from the quarterback, it looked like a designed play. Was that something you put in after watching film of Virginia Tech?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, I mean, we try to build our game plan each and every week based on the things that we think give us the best chance to score. Are you talking about the pass to Feaster?

Q. Yes, sir.
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, just a staple of our passing game, kind of a crossing route, and he just did a great job of going through his progression. You know, we have very specific things that his eyes are supposed to be on, and if this, do that type of processing, and the back was able to get out from a protection standpoint, so that's one of the things we try to really talk a lot about here is, hey, don't forget your back. He just did a great job of going through his progression and finding his back, and 28 didn't give him any space at all. He's got elite speed to take it the distance.

Q. What are you most impressed with about your team through the first five games coming off a National Championship?
DABO SWINNEY: Their focus. I mean, they've been a very focused group, easy group to coach. You know, they've been pretty consistent, and just their chemistry. This is a group that I think really cares, and you know, there's good crossover leadership between offense and defense, and they're just taking one day at a time approach. It's really something that I think they're taking a lot of pride in.

Q. And I'm wondering, have you had a chance to reach out to Coach Stallings since his heart attack on Friday?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, well, you know, his grandson is a tight end for us, so we've been able to keep up with everything -- I have not talked to Coach, but we've talked to J.C. and his mom, and we're in the loop on what's going on. But he's doing better. It was a really scary weekend. But he's lucky, and hopefully he can make a full recovery here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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