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September 26, 2012

Dabo Swinney

MIKE FINN:  We're now joined by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.  We'll ask coach for a brief opening statement and then go to questions.
COACH SWINNEY:  Good again to be with you this week.
This is a big challenge for us, going up to Chestnut Hill, a tough place to play, a place we've only won one time.  I have a lot of respect for Coach Spaziani, the way he does things there, just their program as a whole.
Look forward to the challenge.  They've had an open date to get ready for us, so I know we'll definitely really have to play very, very well to have a chance to win this game.
Very impressed with what they're doing offensively.  They got quarterbacks throwing the ball for almost a thousand yards in three games.  Big arm, very efficient, knows their offense, is operating it very, very well.
Big up front.  Two pounders at back.  Got a couple of wideouts that are really capable of making some big‑time plays.  So it's going to be a real challenge for our defense.
Then defensively, Boston College has always been outstanding on defense.  Their scheme is challenging.  They know exactly what they're doing.  They are who they are.  They play to their strengths.
Last year, last couple years, they've had Kuechly up there.  He's gone.  Now he's gone, you look up, three of the top four tacklers in this league, the top two tacklers in the nation, are at Boston College.
They know what they're doing on defense.  This is a game we're going to have to execute on high levels in all phases.  They are very good in the kicking game as well.  Big challenge for us to get back on track and find a way to win up at Boston.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for coach.

Q.  You played and coached at the University of Alabama under Gene Stallings.  How much of your coaching traits come from your time with Coach Stallings?  Do you have much communication with him these days?
COACH SWINNEY:  Man, we don't have enough time to talk about my time with Coach Stallings.  I spent seven years with him playing and coaching.  I consider him my mentor.  I stay in touch with him quite often.  He's been here to Clemson five or six times.  We talk on the phone.  Talked to him a few weeks ago.
We stay in regular communication.  He's been a great resource for me as I've started my head coaching career over the last few years.
Good man.  Was a great example to me trying to do things a certain way, being the kind of father and husband you need to be in this business as well.

Q.  I know you probably don't want to go into it, but you seemed to be going really strong into the third quarter with Florida State.  Where did the momentum shift away from your team?
COACH SWINNEY:  We had two plays back to back.  They ran a little speed sweep that we did not fit properly on the outside, really hurt us there.  They got a touchdown off of that.  Then the offense came back and really answered with a field goal.  Put us up 10 again, kind of got the momentum back.  After we kicked the field goal, we got a kickoff.  We forgot that we need to cover the kickoff.  Next thing you know it goes 90 yards the other way.
That to me was the turning point, kickoff return, punch it in for a touchdown there.  Cut the lead to 3, and really ignited the flame down there.  Got the crowd rolling.  That energy and momentum was pretty powerful.  We needed to answer on offense.  We went three‑and‑out.  They came right back.
It was just a tough little stretch there where we had a chance to finish the game on defense, offense and special teams.  We didn't step up and get it done.  A game we led for almost three quarters.
Disappointing we didn't finish.  Tough place to go and win.  You have to give Florida State a ton of credit.  They played their tails off, made plays, took advantage of the opportunities.  That's what good teams do, especially at home.
Similar situation with our game against them here last year.  It was a hard‑fought game by two good teams.  Disappointing we lost.  But that one's over.  Even if we would have won the game, we would be talking about moving on, staying focused, finding a way to win this one.  Nothing has changed in that regard.  It's all about this game regardless of what's happened in the past.
Hopefully we'll learn and grow from that and get better as a team this week.  But I would say that kickoff return was the turning point.

Q.  What adjustments, if any, do you feel you need to make going into Boston College this weekend?
COACH SWINNEY:  It's not as much adjustments as it is execution, doing the fundamental things properly.  We got to get 11 guys executing all on the same page, especially defensively, playing with the proper technique.  We got some guys giving great effort.  You have to have effort with technique.  That's what leads to execution.
So we just got to improve fundamentally, technically.  That's really the main thing.  It's not as much adjustments.  There's nothing wrong with our scheme.  We've got good schemes.  We have to execute things a little bit better.

Q.  Frank was talking about some of the positives that Doug Martin has brought to the offense.  When you look at them on film, what kind of improvements do you see?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, they're just much more dynamic.  They're totally different looking at them as far as throwing the football, their efficiencies throwing the ball, really understanding how to attack the defense.  They're real big up front, like they always have been.  They do a good job with their three‑step game.  Keeping you off balance with the play‑action.  They have shifts and motion.
They're playing at a tempo.  They're never been a tempo team.  You watch the Miami game, heck, they're snapping the ball.  Miami is not even lined up.  They're barely getting down.  That's a real change.
They do a good job of throwing the ball to the runningbacks.  They run the lead draw in the zone as well as anybody, do a good job with their screens.  They still have their physical approach they've always had, but much more dynamic in different ways than they have in the past.
It all starts with the quarterback.  This guy can play.  He really understands what he's doing within that scheme, knows where to go with the ball.  We're going to have to do a good job of being where we're supposed to be in tackling people.  He's going to get rid of it.  He doesn't hold the ball very long.  You don't throw for a thousand yards in three games by accident, 950 or something.  Impressive, especially when you played Miami and Northwestern as two of those opponents.
I'm very impressed with what they're doing offensively.

Q.  I saw last week where you had started transitioning to Eric Mac Lain to offensive guard.  What does he have to do to establish himself at that position?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, it's going to be a great move for him and our team.  It's something he really wanted to do.  He has a role for us at tight end.  He came to see me a week or so ago and said it's been on his mind.  Just felt that long‑term that would give him more opportunity.  I didn't disagree.
I definitely think he can be special in the offensive line.  I think he could be okay at tight end, but he's probably going to max out at some point.  This is going to give him an opportunity to really play more, play longer at this position.
I'm happy he's made the move.  He's moving to tackle.  That's what we see him as, but he could play guard.  One of the things we're excited about him, he's similar to Brandon Thomas, who played some tight end in high school, as well.  We see Mac Lain as a guy that can play either tackle position or guard position.  When you have guys like that that bring that type of athleticism and flexibility to your offensive line, that is a big‑time plus.
We kind of told him that we're going to give it the next three or four weeks to try to transition him and get him up to speed.  He's been in meetings for a little over a week with the offensive line.  Right now we have to keep him in No.88, because his role he's performing at tight end is important.  He's in our short yardage and goal packages.  Once he's up to speed, feels like he's ready to go, we're going to move him into 78 and probably keep the jersey on the sideline if we're able to get him in the line here the next few weeks.
Trying to get him to the open date and bring him along after that.  I'm excited about him.  He knows the offense.  Not just like he's moving over from defense and doesn't have a clue.  Should be able to come over a little quicker than somebody moving from the other side of the ball.  But I think he's got a great future there.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, thanks for being with us.  Good luck this weekend.  We'll talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH SWINNEY:  Thank you.

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