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August 29, 2012

Dabo Swinney

MIKE FINN:  We are now joined by Clemson head Coach Dabo Swinney.  We'll ask coach for a brief opening statement.
COACH SWINNEY:  Good to be back with you guys.  Again, we're excited that it's game week.  Really just looking forward to seeing our team play.  Auburn is a team that we're familiar with from the last couple years from a personnel standpoint.  Really had a couple of exciting games with them.  I think this one will most likely be the same.  Really appreciative of the opportunity to play in this Chick‑Fil‑A Bowl Classic here and look forward to Saturday night.
With what, I'll take whatever questions you've got.

Q.  What would you consider has been your greatest challenge heading into the fall season this year?
COACH SWINNEY:  The greatest challenge from just a football standpoint is probably just trying to (indiscernible) our offensive line.  We've had a lot of competition there, trying to solidify that group, especially when Giff Timothy got hurt early on in camp, really forced us to have to move some guys around.
But as it's turned out, because I think we're going to have Giff back, it's going to help us in the long run because I think we were able to get some guys maybe more reps than they would have gotten had he been healthy all of camp.  That's probably been the biggest challenge, just trying to settle on the rotation up front.

Q.  Who would you consider talent that's flying under the radar right now?
COACH SWINNEY:  I don't know.  We got a lot of young guys.  We're a big sophomore team.  If you cover our team, you probably know that already.  We only got 11 seniors, really only have 11 juniors now because two of our juniors are going to redshirt.  We're a big, big sophomore football team.
It's hard to pin one guy.  I think we've got several guys that I guess are so‑called 'flying under the radar' that I think as we play some ballgames and after this season are going to be much more well‑known based on their play on the field.
But I think, again, there's a bunch of those guys, not just one in particular I'd point out.

Q.  Wanted to ask you what you saw from Peake and Humphries during the summer?
COACH SWINNEY:  Adam, he had a very good freshman year.  We thought he was maybe the second most impactful freshman that we had.  Charone, he didn't make the adjustment quite as easily as Sammy and Adam did last year.  Charone and Martavis were just kind of your normal freshmen.  Didn't come as easy, had to adjust to the speed of the game, the mental part of it, the physical part of it.
Since January, since spring ball, Charone has been awesome.  He's become the player we thought he would be.  We've seen it every single day.  He was outstanding this spring.  He was great in our spring game.  Then he just picked it right back up in fall camp.
With the situation with Sammy, because Sammy and Adam, they roll in there and play the same position, we needed another guy, and Charone was the guy that we felt would be the best guy to move over there and let him compete.
He's also going to play behind Hopkins.  We want to give him a chance to let those two guys compete.  He was just the more consistent, more productive guy in camp.  Really that simple.
Adam was very, very good.  But those decisions aren't difficult.  They really make those decisions on the field based on what we see every day.  Adam was very good, but Charone was just a little bit better through fall camp.  Hopefully he'll go and do that on game day.  That's where we are right now.

Q.  Originally last year were you looking more for Humphries to be on special teams?  Did he surprise you?
COACH SWINNEY:  He didn't surprise us at all.  He's one of those guys in the recruiting process, a lot of people would say the only reason we were signing him was because we wanted to get Charone Peake.  Regardless of what we say, people have their own perceptions.  People have no idea who this guy is because he wasn't a highly recruited guy.  That's some of the stuff you have to put up in recruiting from time to time.
We felt like he was going to impact our team.  It was quickly recognized when he got to camp last year, just how physically, more importantly, mentally how ready he was to contribute early.  He is a very good special teams player.
He's just a heck of a football player.  Adam Humphries can do a little bit of everything.  He can return, cover, catch, run with the ball.  He is, I think, a very, very good player that over the next three years is going to make a big, big impact at Clemson.  I don't have any doubt about that.
I don't think any of us were surprised at all.  Again, that's what we do.  We don't hit on everybody, but he was one for sure that we felt fully comfortable with our evaluation that this guy was going to be a very good player for us, even though other people, for whatever reason, didn't evaluate him as high as we did.

Q.  In a game between two good teams like this, how worried or concerned that the loss of a good player like Sammy could tip the scale of winning versus losing?
COACH SWINNEY:  Not worried about that to be honest with you.  It is what it is.  If we're not good enough to win without Sammy Watkins, we're not good enough to win without him.  It's not worth sitting and worrying about it.
I'm very confident in the guys that we have to fill that void.  I've said a few times, I don't think one guy replaces Sammy.  But collectively as a group we can get that done.  We've prepared for it.  That's just where we are.  Not worried about that at all.
It's a game.  The deal with Sammy is life.  That's more important than a game.  At the end of the day we've prepared our team.  I'm very confident with the guys that we have.  Here in a couple weeks, hopefully people will recognize the fact that we got other good players other than just Sammy Watkins.

Q.  When Auburn having a new defensive and offensive coordinator, how much of a challenge was it to prepare for this game?
COACH SWINNEY:  That's been difficult because of those dynamics you just mentioned.  All openers are a challenge.  Let's face it, most of the time you've got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to really prepare your team.  You polish on Thursday, just kind of walk through on Friday and go play.  You're not usually adding things on Fridays.  So you don't have a lot of time.
In this case openers are tough because you have so much time to get ready for one game.  You throw in the fact there's two new coordinators with totally different philosophies, so you're spending time studying other people's film that's not the personnel you're going to see.  That makes it a little bit more challenging.
But it's really about us.  It's really about the Clemson Tigers, us knowing what we are doing, understanding our systems, being able to apply those systems to whatever we see on game day, then us as coaches making good adjustments once we really know, Okay, here is what they're going to do.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, thanks for being with us.  Good luck this weekend and we'll look forward to talking to you next week.

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