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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 23, 2013


Dabo Swinney


DABO SWINNEY:¬† I'd like to first of all just‑‑ obviously coming off a very disappointing performance and loss this past Saturday night to a great football team in Florida State. ¬†But I'm really proud of our guys for how they've responded this week.¬† We've had a really good couple of days and just refocusing, getting dialed in on what we've got to do to play better football and give ourselves a chance to win another game.
Got a huge challenge this week with Maryland, 5‑2, undefeated at home.¬† It's their homecoming.¬† They're coming off a tough loss just like us, and anytime you're a great competitor like they are and the guys on this team, you want to get back out there and try to get back on the right side of things and play better.
I know it'll be a hard‑fought game.¬† Defensively they're doing a great job.¬† Offensively they've got two quarterbacks that have, I think, played well for them.¬† They run the ball well.¬† They have had some really, really tough injuries, so there's a little bit of unknown from that standpoint because they've got some new guys that are going to be big factors for them.¬† Very impressed with them on special teams.¬† Their kicker has been outstanding.¬† Their return game has been excellent.
Tough place to go and play, and again, for us it's about trying to get back and get back on track and correct a lot of the mistakes that we had from this past weekend.  We're looking forward to the trip, and with that I'll take your questions.

Q.  Despite the loss, the conference has three teams in the top nine of the BCS standings.  Can you just comment on the state of the league?
DABO SWINNEY:  Well, I just think it's awesome.  To be honest with you, that's one of the things that I told our guys as a compliment to them and the type of consistency that these guys have played with over the last couple of years.  You lose a ballgame and you still stay in the top 10.  I think that's a great compliment to our football team.
And from a league standpoint, to be going into‑‑ getting ready to go into November next week, this is the last ballgames of October, to have three ACC teams in the BCS top 10, you know, that's where we want to be, and it's just a great compliment to Florida State for the job that they've done, Coach Fisher and his staff and their football team.¬† They might be the best team in the country, playing at a very high level, and then Al Golden and Miami and the job that they've done, and then obviously ourselves.¬† We're very happy to be recognized as one of the best teams out there, and hopefully we can finish that way.
And then listen, Virginia Tech has really come on and had a heck of a year for our league.  That's really what's happened, if you just look back and see the SEC in particular, they've done a good job of having two or three teams every year kind of in that mix, and it's good to see our conference step up and be relevant nationally at this point in time in the season.

Q.  What was your message to the team this week in terms of getting them to mostly kind of bounce back from a disappointing loss and focus on the next opponent?
DABO SWINNEY:¬† Really the same message that it would have been had we won the game.¬† It's all about Maryland.¬† It's the biggest game of the year.¬† If you win, it's obviously a little different, but if you come off a difficult loss, you just refocus them on, okay, here's what happened and here's why it happened, here's the things that we control.¬† For us we really focus on our plan to win every week.¬† Going into that ballgame we had outscored our opponents 56‑0 off of turnovers.¬† So that's why we're 6‑0.¬† And then we go into this game and we get outscored 24‑0 off of turnovers.¬† You can't beat bad football teams that way, much less a great team like Florida State.
So it's disappointing because we just really didn't feel like we even gave ourselves a chance to compete like we wanted to and we know we can.  But that's football.  Sometimes you go out there, and we had a great week of practice, great prep, and next thing you know the put the ball on the ground a couple times and you start pressing and you're playing a great team and they respond with great energy.  They don't make many mistakes, you get your tail whipped.  But you move on.  It's the biggest game of the season is this week.  This is what we control, and at the end of the day there's still a lot out there for this football team.
So you point those things out.¬† You really come together from a leadership standpoint.¬† Everybody take accountability, and then you go back to practice.¬† That's what we've done, and that's what this team has done really for the last couple of years.¬† That's why we've had the success that we've had and the consistency that we've had, because they've responded, whether we've had a big win or we've had a really, really tough loss.¬† We're 17‑3 in the last 20 games, and those three losses were all painful.¬† But they responded.
Last year we probably played our worst game of the year against South Carolina.  It was a huge game, probably would have been in a BCS bowl had we won that game.  We had a lot of our key guys didn't play very well; we turned it over; we had a tough night, and for 30 days we had to listen to how bad we were.  Well, they responded in the bowl game.  Same thing last year; we had a tough loss on the road at Florida State.  They responded at Boston College.
That's what this football team's personality has been, and I don't expect anything different.

Q.  You mentioned fixing mistakes.  Certain things you point from that game and show the guys, this is what we did wrong, let's fix this or that?
DABO SWINNEY:  Sure.  Well, the number one thing is four turnovers.  We only had four turnovers the whole year, and we had the first play of the game a nice 1st down and we fumbled the ball and give them a really short field.  You can't do that.  And then we come back and we have a busted assignment and literally just fumble the ball, they scoop it and score.  Our defense hadn't even been on the field.  And then we have two poor decisions as far as interceptions throwing the ball.  It's just difficult.
And then the other big thing for us offensively was we had 12 possessions offensively, none of them in Florida State territory, and only scored twice.¬† And that's all a reflection of the turnovers, the drops, the penalties, mental errors, things that we've been doing a good job of, and all of a sudden it was kind of just‑‑ we couldn't really seem to get it right.¬† But you've also got to give Florida State a lot of credit for that because they took advantage of all those mistakes, and that's what great teams will do.¬† You give them a little bit of rope, they're going to take it.
And then defensively when we needed to stop them, we didn't.  Just the overall turnover margin, big plays, penalties, mental errors, those are things that we focus on every single week, and we've got to get back to executing at a little higher level this week.

Q.¬† I've got a two‑part question for you.¬† After facing Florida State this past week, I know obviously you want to move on to the next game, but what is the most difficult part of defending Jameis Winston after you've faced him at this point, and where would you rank him in the quarterbacks that you've faced to this point?
DABO SWINNEY:  Oh, he's as good as anybody we've seen, that's for sure.  I mean, he's very deserving to be one of the Heisman guys.  Heck, and he may win it.  We'll see how it plays out the next few weeks.
But the thing that I'm most impressed with him is he just doesn't make any mistakes, and he doesn't flinch.  He's a very, very mature, poised guy personally.  And then you throw in his great skill as a football player, just incredibly impressive.  And then he's got great people around him.  They really don't have any weaknesses on that football team.  They're good in the trenches, they're good at all the skill position, good at backer, running backs are very deep, tight end is an excellent player, they're good in special teams.  But he, I think, just makes everybody that much better because of his confidence and his poise, and he has responded to every challenge that he's faced.
I couldn't be more impressed with the guy, and I think that if he continues to play like he's playing, they're going to be a hard team to beat.

Q.  Any advice that you'd give NC State's coach, Coach Doeren, facing them this weekend, and maybe anybody else moving forward to this point?
DABO SWINNEY:  Hey, I've got my own problems.  I've got enough problems right now.  But you're going to have to play a complete football game.  You don't have a lot of room for error if you're going to beat Florida State.  That's the biggest thing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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