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October 11, 2017

Dabo Swinney

Greensboro, North Carolina

DABO SWINNY: Really proud of our team for a very good win against Wake Forest last week. To get to 6-0 at this point is a great achievement, but we've got a lot more work ahead of us.

We like where our team is right now and looking forward to another trip up to Syracuse. It's one of the really unique places and venues to play a college football game. We've got a lot of guys that haven't been there. It's going to be an awesome environment. Got our hands full with a much improved and a very well coached Syracuse team.

So look forward to having the opportunity to be on national TV and everybody have a chance to see us and hopefully we can play our best game as we head into this open date.

Q. Hi, Coach. I'm curious about your thoughts on your defense, as good as it is right now. How do you compare it to other teams that you've had at this time of the season?
DABO SWINNY: I mean, they've played really well and very consistent. They're a defense that takes a lot of pride in improving and correcting mistakes, show up to work every day, very coachable.

I mean, we've had some good ones. I mean, they're right there with all those groups after six games. A lot of people have compared them to our 2014 defense, but to me, it's hard for me to really compare a group that's played half a season to a group that's played and finished because you've still got a long way to go. And there's a certain mindset that you have to maintain and not grow weary from the preparation process and stuff.

But to this point, they've been outstanding and have answered all the challenges. And, again, very committed to doing what it takes week in and week out. So they're right there with all those other ones we've had.

Q. By the way, how's it going with your DBs wearing boxing gloves in practice? I love that story. And why you started it.
DABO SWINNY: It's been great. The reason we started it was, again, every year, you self-evaluate and try to figure out ways to improve and things that you didn't do very well. We were very good on defense, obviously, last year to win it all. But we were -- we led the world in PIs, so it's just something I'm trying to figure out how to get us better.

I don't even know where I saw it. I think I saw it on an interview or something. But somebody, I think, had asked Coach Belichick, I might have read it somewhere. I don't really know. And he said that one of the things he did is he put his DBs in boxing gloves.

And so that's what we started doing in camp, in our one-on-one periods, just to really challenge them and stress them to have to win with their feet, play with great technique, not grab and hold and things like that.

So we've been much improved and hopefully that will continue the second half.

Q. As long as it's working. Congrats, Coach.
DABO SWINNY: Appreciate it.

Q. Coach, hi. I'm wondering Louisville, obviously, has a new interim basketball coach. Kind of a background question. A new interim basketball coach, David Padgett, who has taken over a situation in some ways similar to how you took over at Clemson, in a tough spot, both time frame and also in a tough situation. And I think you were the wide receivers coach and he had also only been an assistant for a couple of years.
So I was wondering if, you know, maybe looking back at that, if you have any recollections of what that situation was like and can give some perspective to what you faced.

DABO SWINNY: Yeah, I mean, different scenario from what he's dealing with. But it was the middle of the season for me. We were 3-3. So it was just more performance situation when I took over, as opposed to all the other stuff that's going on there that he's having to deal with.

It's an incredibly difficult situation. At least he has a chance to go through a training camp and have a chance to at least start out.

But ironically, for me, we play Friday night, and that's my nine-year anniversary of that day, October 13th is when I was named the interim. So I've got a lot of recollection.

Just it's a difficult position. First of all, those players didn't come there for you to be the head coach for them, so that's a big change right there. Obviously, there's a lot of uncertainty. And then you have a staff. Basketball's not as big a staff as football, but you've got a staff. They didn't come there to work for you. You go from one of them to the leader of them. So there's a lot of just challenges right out of the gate.

And then you have -- usually, when you are in an interim situation, there's some type of division within the fan base because things aren't good. For whatever reason, something's whatever. So there's just -- there's just usually a lot of chaos and stress to have to push through.

So the main thing, for me, was in my situation was to just make it all about the players and to just remove all the personal feelings, the personal fear and just understand, kind of put myself as if I was one off those players and understand, okay, for me, I've got a group of seniors that -- and we were a highly ranked team coming into the season. The train has come off the tracks here. Their coach is gone, and there's six games left.

I had to make it all about them and just say, hey, we've got a choice to make here. And that decision is something that you're going to carry with you the rest of your lives. It's not about me. Hey, I'm going to be fine. I've already made my decision in life and my choice on what my future's going to look like and my vision for it.

This is an opportunity for you guys to leave here on a positive note. You can't do anything about what's happened but, doggone, we can do something about what's in front of us and make an example of how you respond to negativity.

So those players, you've got to get those players to buy in and you've got to create that positive vision for them. Those guys did it. They didn't have to. We ended up finishing up 4-2 and earned a trip to the Gator Bowl that year. We went from not going to a Bowl to getting the Gator Bowl.

So I'll always be appreciative of that group because if not for the decision that those players made, I'm not here today and probably a lot of these players that are here probably aren't here either.

So, yeah, I always have a recollection this time of year of that group and that team and the decisions they made to buy in to the way we wanted to do things those last six or seven weeks of the season.

Q. Dabo, Jeff Scott was saying yesterday that he sees a lot of similarities between the way you run the program and how Bobby Bowden ran the program at Florida State. Did you follow that program under Bowden coming up, and do you have any thoughts on that?
DABO SWINNY: Well, I think everybody from my era during that run was very aware of what was going on at Florida State. Obviously, knew who Coach Bowden was.

I never met Coach Bowden until I came to Clemson and had an opportunity to meet him while working for Tommy. But I always had great admiration for Bobby Bowden. I always thought he was just a good man. A good man, he loved his players.

And he certainly, indirectly, has had an impact on me for sure. I never worked for him or anything like that, but I think he definitely had an impact on me indirectly through Tommy. Obviously, Tommy is his son and, you know, I learned a lot of great things from Tommy Bowden. I think those are obviously things that I'm sure he took from his father.

So, again, just always had a lot of respect for Bobby Bowden and having an opportunity to meet him. One of my greatest moments was having a chance to just sit in his office when I was an assistant. I was down in Tallahassee recruiting with Tommy and he took me by the office. Just ended up -- Tommy got up and left the office. Just me and Coach Bowden sitting there. Man, we just had a great conversation. He just made me feel like he'd known me forever.

He just was one of those guys that I definitely looked up to in this business. Even though I didn't get to play for him or work for him, I definitely was impacted indirectly.

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