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November 21, 2012

Dabo Swinney

DABO SWINNEY:  Good to be with you again.  Well, this is an exciting week here, our rivalry week.  It's going to be a big challenge for us getting ready to play an outstanding South Carolina football team.  They've got two losses on the road to top‑five teams, so obviously they are a very, very good football team.
We're going to have to play at a high level.  They're defensively as good as anybody we've seen or are going to see, and offensively they've, I think, adjusted well without Lattimore and have done a good job of getting the ball in their playmakers' hands.  They've got guys at receiver, tight end, and then obviously their backs, Kenny Miles has been around a while and has made some plays, and their quarterback is outstanding, very good in the return game.  Ace Sanders is as dangerous a guy as there is out there in the country, so just a good football team and will take a complete effort on our part to have a chance to win.

Q.  Like you just stated, it's South Carolina week, a huge game, and you have done a great job kind of building up this Clemson program as well as Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.  With that being said, the last few years has been the first legitimate chance that you guys could even match up and play in the Chick‑Fil‑a Bowl game after you played in the regular season.  Would you be in favor if that ever did happen, or what's your thoughts on that?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, to be honest with you, I hadn't thought about that.  But I hope I don't have to worry about that.  That means we got beat.
But when the regular season is over, that's when we focus on the postseason, and whatever you get, you get.  You get dialed in on getting ready to play that opponent, and whoever it is, it's always an exciting time.  Your players get a little bit of time off and then they come back and you get geared up for that postseason opportunity and the experience that you get, and obviously you want to try to win.
But that would be an interesting scenario.  Again, hopefully we're not having to worry about that.

Q.  How do you think your offensive line matches up with their defensive line, and what do you see on film that makes that such a strength for them?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, we're going to have to play well.  We're going to have to play as good as we've played all year.  Their whole entire front is NFL guys.  I mean, all of them.  And some of the backups.
You know, Clowney would be probably a top five pick this year if he could come out.  I mean, Devin Taylor, outstanding player, Quarles, Jerideau, they're all good players, they rotate guys in there.  They're just very physical, they get pressure with just their four‑man front, and that allows them to do some other things on the back end from a cover standpoint and allows them to play some man coverage and disrupt timing and things like that.
But this is as good a group as there is out there in the country anywhere, there's no doubt about it.  We're a bunch of young bucks over there, got one senior, but these guys have played well throughout the year, and I'm confident with them.  I like the guys I've got, but they're going to have to bring their "A" game.

Q.  Is that match‑up the biggest key to this game or is there something else you think is a bigger deal?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, I mean, that's certainly a big part of it.  We've got to protect our quarterback and be able to establish the run game, and we didn't do that last year.  But to me, the biggest thing to me is turnover margin.  We've obviously lost the last three years in this ballgame, and we've lost the turnover margin, too.  You know, you've got to give yourself a chance, and this is not a team that you want to play from behind against.  You know, and part of that, again, is just making some of the plays that are there when they present themselves.
But winning that turnover margin is to me the critical thing.  We've got to do a great job in that area in taking care of the football, creating some turnovers defensively for us.  But there's a lot of things.
This is the type of ballgame‑‑ any time you get two top teams in the country that play each other, the margin for error is not very big.  It's three or four or five plays, so you've got to play every play like it's the play.  And it could be‑‑ you know, it could be something on special teams.  I mean, you just never know.
But that's what makes it exciting and challenging.

Q.  With all the in‑state rivalry implications and the game your fans want to win and the game your players want to win and all that, in addition to carrying the Clemson banner into this game, do you think about the ACC banner, as well, the ACC/SEC that comes up, and there's four of them this weekend?
DABO SWINNEY:  No.  We're just really just thinking about Clemson.  That's really been our focus all year, and it shouldn't be any different.  It's not about South Carolina, it's not about anything outside of Clemson.  It's about Clemson, how we prepare, how we play, our execution, our effort, our mentality.  And that's just the way it's been for us all year.  Hey, every week it's been the biggest game of the year, and let's prepare great and nothing changes.  The only thing different with this one is this is the last game of the season, and it's your in‑state rival.  So there's a little bit more attention than maybe any of the other games.
But our mentality is exactly the same.  We've just got to focus on ourselves and have great preparation and just put a great effort on display Saturday night.

Q.  When you look at the other ACC/SEC match‑ups this weekend, just as an observer, is it the kind of thing that you say, hey, this is a great opportunity for the conference, I'd like to see us win two or three of these?
DABO SWINNEY:  You know, again, I've been so focused on what we're doing, I really don't pay a lot of attention to that stuff.  But yeah, I mean‑‑ I'm trying to think who all they are.  I know Florida State plays Florida.  Love to see those teams win and represent the conference great.  But that's irrelevant, really, to what I'm trying to do here.

Q.  I was just wondering what Breeland's workload has been so far this week and if he's not a chance of playing on Saturday.
DABO SWINNEY:  No, I don't see him playing.  He's been very limited and actually did an MRI on him and came back good, but he's got some strained area in his groin‑abdominal area, so he's not going to be able to play.

Q.  I wanted to ask you a little bit about Florida State since you guys are really the only team that's had a lot of offensive success against them.  What were some of the keys were you guys having success in that game, and how difficult is Florida State's defense, and what stands out to you about them?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, they're outstanding, and it's been a long time ago for us, obviously.  I think we've improved tremendously since that game.  But they were a top‑five team when we were there, and in my eyes they're every bit a top‑five team still.  They've taken care of their business.  They like to‑‑ haven't always been pretty, but great teams find ways to win, and they make the big plays when they get the opportunity, and when their back is against the wall they respond, and that's what Florida State has done.  They've responded.
Same thing in our ballgame.  Heck, we got them‑‑ we're getting ready to tap them out, and shoot, next thing you know, they're on top.  And so this is a really deep, talented football team.  Defensively they're outstanding, great D‑line, great linebackers, as good a secondary, I think, as there is in the country.  So just a complete team.
But for us we feel like we're pretty good, too.  And it was a great match‑up, and we won a lot of match‑ups.  We took advantage of some of the things that they like to do and hit some plays early.  But our play makers made plays and won big match‑ups.  Our quarterback played well.  And again, unfortunately, we give up the kick return and it kind of turned on us down there and we weren't able to‑‑ and then we had a big turnover late that kind of sealed it for them.  But overall a very, very dangerous football team in every phase, offensively, defensively, special teams.  There's really, I don't think, a weakness on their team.  I think they've got play makers everywhere.  They've got‑‑ a great back goes down, shoot, they've got two or three more, here they come.  Outstanding quarterback, and defensively, again, just a ton of depth and speed and athleticism.

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