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November 13, 2013

Dabo Swinney

MODERATOR:  Thank you, welcome to the today's ACC football coaches media conference.
Just a brief opening statement and then we'll go to questions.
COACH SWINNEY:  Good morning, Mike.  Kind of a different week this week for us.  It's kind of a Friday for us getting ready for our first Thursday night game here in the valley for quite a long time.  We're excited about it, huge talent, Georgia Tech, obviously a rivalry game for us, we play every year.  Obviously a very, very tough matchup.  And we're going to have to play well.  They're playing very well offensively, and probably the biggest difference in their team this year is their defense, one of the best in the country.  So it's going to be a big challenge for our guys and I know we're all excited about getting back out on the field and coming off of bye week this past weekend.

Q.  Having the extra week to prepare for Georgia Tech and the option game, how much is that going to benefit you today?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, they've had an extra week, too, I think that kind of balances each other out.  The biggest thing for us is trying to get our team healthy.  Going into game 10, just like everybody, you've got a bunch of guys that are kind of managing, so just having a little extra time to get some bodies healthy to make a good, strong finish here was a big part of it.  And certainly the option part is big, too.
But for us, we would play them every year.  We try to spend a little time here and there just to keep our guys exposed to the option.  They have a good understanding of what we have to do.  And it's not just the option.  People make a big deal, there's a lot of people that can run the triple option, it may not be very good.  But the deal with Georgia Tech, they're really good at what they do.  They're really good at what they do.  They're very well coached.  A huge challenge, but feel like we've got good practice, good preparation, and now it's time to go play.

Q.  How do you feel about your run defense going into the game?
COACH SWINNEY:  I feel good about our guys.  I think one of the strengths out of the year, is the most improved part of our game is defense.  We're one of the top defenses in the country.  And we're going to have to play like it tomorrow night.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about their quarterback situation.  The last two years you've played them Washington's been the guy you've had to deal with.  Does Badley present any kind of different look or strengths or things that you can deal with?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, he just kind of mixes guys up.  They do.  All those guys.  You can just bet they know what they're doing.  And he's got a lot of confidence in them or they wouldn't be out there.  He's a very good thrower.  He can throw the football, and he's a tough, physical runner.  He's got the whole package for what they do.  And he's got a good understanding of what to do and when to do it.  He's been a good decision maker.  And I think probably the biggest thing is Coach Johnson is pretty confident with him being able to throw the ball.

Q.  Every time we talk to the coach about playing the triple option they talk with responsibility.  One of the other things I've heard is the key is stopping that fullback dive.  That's where it's got to start, do you agree with that?  How do you see that shaping up?
COACH SWINNEY:  There's no question.  The triple option, it presents so much misdirection and decision making and discipline with your eyes.  It's a different deal than what you see every week, and what you're used to putting your eyes on.  And you may not get the ball, but if you don't tackle him every time, if you don't have somebody doing the job every time, next thing you know he's gone for about 20, 30, and you can't get bored and really playing your assignment.  This is assignment football at its best.  You're going to have a chance to stop these guys.  Everybody has got to do their job.  And at the end of the day it still comes down to the very basics of football, winning matchups.  Defeating blocks, throwing, catching, all these type of things.  And containing the ball.

Q.  Also I wanted to ask you about the atmosphere that you expect.  Is Thursday night, nation watching?  We saw a great atmosphere when you played at Florida State.  Will it be similar to that?
COACH SWINNEY:  I think anytime we play in the valley it's always a great atmosphere.  I can't remember a game where we haven't had a great crowd, great atmosphere.  That's just kind of the nature of Clemson.  But I've never had a Thursday night game here, so I really don't really have anything to judge it on.  But I'll know a little bit more tomorrow night.  But I certainly expect to have a great crowd and great energy to go with it.

Q.  You had a week off getting yourself ready for Georgia Tech, what did you see on the film, that diamond option, that diamond formation they run?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, they're just really good at what they do, that's what I was saying earlier.  It's not just the triple option that you're having to defend, it's how they run it.  And the people that they have to execute it.  They're just very, very well coached.  I think they do what they do.  They run the ball very, very well, about 311 yards a game.  They love the play action off of that.  They force you into some one‑on‑one matchups.  And they may take those shots to see if their guy can make the play on one of those.  But they kind of have a wrinkle each week that you have to prepare for.  There will be something in the game that we won't be prepared for.  They know it's just part of it, and they have to make some adjustments as they get into the game.  You've got to get your guys, again, to really buy into what you're asking them to do.  They play with great, great discipline the entire game and tackle very well.  There will be a lot of one‑on‑one matchups from the tackling standpoint to go with it.  Bottom line is they do what they do and they do it well.

Q.  What about your guys running on plan, the running backs, seems like you have a downs offense sometimes?
COACH SWINNEY:  Yeah, we really want to run the football.  Everything kind of starts from there with us.  And then we're big on taking what's there.  We really believe in that.  We've got good play makers on the outside and the back field and we just ‑‑ when we do a good job from a decision making standpoint of taking what's there, that's when we're at our best.  And we've got to run the football the best we've run it all year if we're going to have the finish that we want to have down the stretch, here.  We got off to a good start this month.  I think that's going to have to continue tomorrow night.  This is a top ten defense versus the rush.  They haven't given up any yards.  This will be a big challenge for us.
MODERATOR:  Thanks for being with us.  Good luck tomorrow night.  And we'll talk to you next Wednesday.

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