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October 24, 2012

Dabo Swinney

MIKE FINN:  We're now joined by Clemson head Coach Dabo Swinney.  Coach, just a brief opening statement, then we'll go to questions.
COACH SWINNEY:  Good morning.
Obviously for us a short week.  Proud of our guys for how they competed last week.  It was a big win for us.  I'm proud of them for how they've come back in with a quick turnaround Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, in trying to prepare to go on the road, play at Wake Forest.
Good football team.¬† They've competed their tails off in every single game.¬† Always played us very tough.¬† Very well‑coached.¬† We'll have to continue to improve as a team and play well, especially on the road, to have a chance to win up there.
Look forward to heading up that way here in just a little bit.  Our guys are getting ready for meetings right now.  We'll leave Clemson about 1:50.  I'm sure it will be a great game tomorrow night.  Look forward to being a part of it.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for coach.

Q.  Dabo, you suffered some injuries recently in your secondary.  Wondering how the depth is looking there for you and if you have to move some players around to help out with that.
COACH SWINNEY:  We're very thin.  There's no doubt about that.  But it's an opportunity for a couple of those young guys to get maybe their first significant chance.  A guy like Cortez Davis, who has been getting better, but has not gotten a lot of reps because there have been a couple of guys in front of him.  He's getting a lot of practice time.  That's really what he needs to improve.  He needs a lot of reps.  We're able to give those to him.  You could see a guy like him get an opportunity here pretty soon.
We have Brewer, Garry Peters that will start at corners.  Doesn't look like Breeland is going to be able to go.  We were hopeful he would be able to go today.  He has some type of abdominal strain, but still not quite well enough.  We were hoping he'd be better today.  He's going to be out.
Yeah, we're in dire straits right now as far as if we were to get somebody else injured.  If everybody stays healthy, the guys we got, we'll be okay.  Get another injury, we'll have to start looking at all options.
We've taken a guy like Adam Humphries, who is one of our best wideouts, but he's played a lot of DB in his background as well, we worked him a little bit this week as an emergency situation.  He certainly understands DB, played his whole career, we just have to keep it simple in what we ask him to do.  No doubt athletically he can get the job done.
That's where we are.  Obviously we get Breeland back soon.  Of course, Darius is out for the year.  We keep bringing these other guys along.

Q.  Coach, I wondered, last year's game came down to the wire.  You had to come from way behind.  Does that help you prepare, the memory of that game, how tough it was for you?
COACH SWINNEY:  I mean, not really.  These guys have great respect for Wake, the ones that have been in this program.  As good of a coached team as there is out there.  They always played hard, play us tough.
Our guys are focused on this team, this team tomorrow night, nothing about last year.¬† But they certainly understand, the ones who were here last year, we got down 14 points and had to battle hard to get back in this thing.¬† Gave up a punt return for a touchdown, had to make a game‑winning kick to win it at home.
There's no question, they have a lot of respect for Wake Forest, as we should.

Q.  Thursday night, I know most of this predates you, Clemson hasn't had much luck on Thursday night.  Any reason for that?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, I don't know (laughter).  We're hoping to change that.  There's a lot of things we haven't done here in a while that we've been able to accomplish over the last three years.  Hopefully we can start changing that trend.
You got to take the good with the bad with the tradition of your program.  It is what it is.  We won the national championship, won this conference more than anybody.  We like to talk about that.  We also have been pathetic on Thursday nights.  I was only the head coach in one of those games, Georgia Tech, my first year, it's still all ours, our tradition.  We've got to change that standard.
There's a lot of things, again, prior to us getting this program going we hadn't done.  We've been able to change a lot of those things over the last three years, and hopefully this is one other thing we are changing.  Whenever we play on Thursday nights, we play a little bit better.
One of the reasons we probably don't have quite as good a record is most of them have all been on the road for whatever reason.  Clemson, I don't think we've had maybe one or two on Thursday nights at home.  I have never been part of a Thursday night at home and I've been here for 10 years.  It's an interesting situation from that standpoint.
So it's tough to win on the road.  Probably been some pretty good teams they played, as well.  Hopefully we can start a new trend tomorrow night and start winning on Thursday nights.  I don't think they line the field differently or anything like that (smiling).

Q.  Coach, you're seven games into this season.  What do you think is the identity of your football team?
COACH SWINNEY:¬† Blue‑collar, improving, a team that's focused on trying to get better.¬† I think we've got a team that's competitive, a team that responds to adversity and the situation that presents itself.
I like these guys.  Good leadership.  That's where we are right now, kind of a work in progress.

Q.  What have you learned most about your team since that Florida State game?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, again, we got good players.  They play hard.  They handle adversity.  The Florida State game, we played our tails off, got the lead for most of the game, had opportunities to close the door in all three phases and just couldn't get it closed.
You have to give Florida State credit for that.  They kind of kicked it back open as we were shutting it.  They made plays on offense, huge plays in special teams, plays on defense in that fourth quarter, turned everything around.
It's tough.  But what do you do from that point?  These guys have been about the right things.  They went back to work, realized that we have to keep getting better, it's a long season, and they responded.
The last three weeks, I see our team really improving.  That's what we got to continue to do.
We got a good group of guys.  They're fun to coach.  They want to be good.  They want to win.  I think they really have bought into it's really about Clemson, it's about how we play, prepare, execute, type of energy and enthusiasm that we play with.
Again, good bunch to be around every day, and hopefully we can just stay focused on the task at hand and just try to be the best we can be.

Q.  Wake Forest having given up 20 points in either of the two games.  Is that because of the opponents they played or are they playing better defense?
COACH SWINNEY:  They do a great job on defense.  They're a little bit different.  They're an odd front most of the time, really good in the secondary.  They're active at linebacker.  Up front, that No.50, the little nose guard they got, he is the heart and soul of their defense.  There's a lot of movement.  They bring pressure.  They just do a good job of executing their scheme.
Like I said earlier, they are well‑coached.¬† They know what they're doing.¬† They rarely beat themselves.¬† They do an excellent job of taking care of the football and creating turnovers.¬† That's been a big key for them.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, I think we're finished for the day.  Thanks for being with us.  Good luck tomorrow night.  We'll talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH SWINNEY:  Thank you.

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