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October 10, 2018

Dabo Swinney

Greensboro, North Carolina

DABO SWINNEY: Well, we are obviously in the open date week here and excited about that, 6-0, and open date is coming at a good time. An opportunity to really reflect on the first half, study ourselves closely, and kind of take a crossover look at our offense and defense, as well, plus have a little time extra to prepare for a really good NC State team. They have an open date, as well, so both of us have the same amount of time to get ready. But just trying to get our team healthy, work on Clemson, get a head start on NC State.

But really proud of our team for how they've performed in the first half. We haven't always been perfect, but obviously we've found a way to win, and coming off a great win up at Wake Forest this past week. Probably our most complete game. So good confidence, good momentum coming into this open date.

Q. Especially given the popularity of RPOs and how the rule affects those plays, I'm curious about your thoughts on college football's ineligible receiver downfield rule. I know there's been a lot of talk about changing the rule in recent years, matching the NFL's one-year restrictions. What are your thoughts on that?
DABO SWINNEY: I like it the way it is. I think that they're doing a much better job of calling linemen downfield, and I know we've had it called on us. We've had it called on the opponents that we've played. So I just think the biggest thing is they put more emphasis on it, regardless of whether you make it one yard or three yards. You've still got to enforce it.

I think the enforcement of it has been much better, and I think cleaned it up a lot as far as some of the blatant stuff that was going on a few years ago.

Q. What effect does offensive linemen being able to block three yards down the field have on the defense?
DABO SWINNEY: Well, I think -- I mean, any time you have a play action, it affects the defense, I mean, regardless of how you do it. When you come off the ball and you're engaged -- I don't think many linebackers are standing there, well, that guy went three yards. I think the biggest thing is the action in the backfield that's taking place. And obviously if you've got linemen coming off and they're uncovered, they can't climb to block a backer because they're going to be deeper than three yards.

Back in the old days you were under center and you turned around and everybody came off, and it was I-formation and hard play action fake and that affected the defense that way, and now that a lot of people aren't in the I, you're in the shotgun, you create the action in a different way with the ride of the quarterback and the back. The biggest thing is just the style of play. I don't think it's as much the OL as it is the style of play as far as quarterbacks from the zone read schemes holding the ball in there and reading second-level defenders but trying to get the backers up to stop the run.

But certainly it's a problem if you've got linemen downfield and you're throwing passes. I mean, that's not good. And I think the biggest thing is enforcing it.

But whether it's three yards or one yard, if we do a good job of enforcing it, then I think it's okay. Just part of the game. Just like exception on defense, part of the game.

Q. With the types of games that you've played against NC State over the years, do you feel like this game has increased in intensity when you look at the way that the players go about approaching it, especially with you all being undefeated going into this one?
DABO SWINNEY: Oh, there's no doubt. There's always a lot of juice for this game, both sides. Dave has done a really good job, but even before he got there, every time we played NC State, you just know that it's going to be a battle. That goes way back, way before I got here. Clemson-NC State has always been a very competitive game. Certainly we've had some really tough games outside of maybe one since Dave has gotten there, but we know that we'll have to play very well. They're undefeated for a reason, and just like us, I think they're getting better as the season has progressed. We've improved, they've improved, and it'll be an awesome environment and a huge opportunity for both teams.

Q. I know you guys play Georgia Tech every year, and there's so much made of preparing for their option offense. Curious about the week after from your experience. You spent so much time preparing for it the week of. The week after, do you throw it out and treat it as an anomaly, or is there some sort of residual effect on your guys after you play them?
DABO SWINNEY: After we play them, as far as you mean like affecting our preparation for the next opponent, like a non-option --

Q. Yeah, does preparing for such a different test throw you off for a week, or is there a physical effect of the way they block and play?
DABO SWINNEY: No, I don't think there's a physical effect, but I know this year was kind of unique for us because we played three out of our first four games were triple option type teams, and that was a little unique for us because we -- it almost became our base defense was playing option defense because that's a lot of time. Three out of your first four weeks to be practicing that way. Usually we just play one team a year typically, and that's Georgia Tech. So we play them every year, so we work on it all year, but it is a -- you just kind of have to, okay, it's Georgia Tech mode and you have to flip a switch because you really can't run your base defense that you spend the majority of your time running.

The biggest thing for us when that game is over, we study it, we make our notes and comments because we know we're going to play them again the next year as far as our defense goes, and we learn from it, but then we move on just like we do, and then we get back to kind of normal defense, if you will, and get out of the option mode, because it's very different. It is very different.

But I do think that it was a little different for us this year because we played three out of the first four teams, and so we had Texas A&M kind of in the middle there. But I think playing Syracuse and then playing Wake Forest back to back, we're starting to kind of hit our rhythm a little bit defensively now as far as just our base defense that we ran all spring and all fall camp.

Q. Talk about yesterday's event you had with the folks there, that special event I saw on Facebook of all -- you had all your players with people in your area, like a special event. Just talk about that last night.
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, it was a great day. It's always a part of our open date. We try to do a community service event. We try to really create opportunities for our players to serve others a few times a year that we orchestrate it, and then they have many other opportunities that they have on their own or just through our Paw Journey aspect of our program.

Yesterday was a great day, and we partnered up with the Clemson Little John center, and they selected a lot of families, needy families that they serve, and we collaborated with them and the Golden Harvest Food Bank, so we packed a bunch of boxes of food, and then these families came in, and we did -- we had a mobile mammography bus. We did free mammograms, we did haircuts. Our players played with the kids. We had bouncy things set up. We basically just served the community. We did health scans, and then our players, they boxed all the food, they took the food to their cars to help them that way, as well. So it was just a great day and a lot of engagement and interaction and just put a smile on a lot of people's faces and just really good for our players to just get that experience of serving someone and making a difference and impacting them in a positive way.

So it was a great day. Our guys took ownership of it. They ran it, and our ambassadors of our team through our Paw Journey program, they kind of led the way, and it was just a great day. A couple hours of just taking time, and we didn't do any football. It was just all community service, and again, something we do every year. We've done a little bit of everything from building houses to visiting hospitals and nursing homes, you name it. But yesterday was a really cool event.

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