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January 3, 2014

Tajh Boyd

Spencer Shuey

Dabo Swinney

Sammy Watkins


Clemson – 40
Ohio State – 35

THE MODERATOR:  We continue with the post‑game press conference at Discover Orange Bowl with Dabo Swinney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers.
Coach, you had said earlier in the week the next step for this program is to win a BCS game.  What does it mean to this program to say you've won a BCS game?
COACH SWINNEY:  It means we're one step closer to our goal, which is to be the best in the country.  Ohio State, what a great football team.  We knew it was going to be an incredibly hard fought game.  Our goal was to get it to the fourth quarter.  We felt like, if we could get it to the fourth quarter and have the lead or be close, then we could win it.
It was a lot of fun, man.  It was a lot of fun.  That's the way it's supposed to be.  You don't luck up and get to BCS games.  You earn your way there.  And you don't luck up and win them.  You've got to earn it on the field.
I'm proud of our guys, proud of our team, our staff.  We had great preparation.  Everybody was ready.  Individuals don't win.  Teams win.  It was a great team win tonight against a great Ohio State team.
I want to thank Eric Poms and Andrew Hertz and all of the Discover Orange Bowl folks.  This was an awesome week for us, just a tremendous week, great experience, and to cap it off with a win is huge.  This was a special season for us.
We started with a top ten team, and we finished with a top ten team.  Our first BCS, first time in 118 years to have back‑to‑back 11‑win seasons, first time since 1987‑88 to finish in the top ten because I can't imagine we're not going to finish in the top ten.
Two years ago, it was probably unthinkable for a lot of people when I sat at this same podium, I guess, after that butt whipping that we took, that we would be 22‑4 since that night.  Again, we talked that last trip that it wouldn't be 30 years before we got back.  We're back, and we found a way to win.  That was our motto all week, just find a way to win the game.
We had enough mistakes to probably lose it, some critical errors, but our guys showed a lot of heart, and they got it done.  So it's another tombstone going back to Clemson, and we're excited about that, but most of all, our seniors‑‑ you know, I just can't say enough about them.
Sammy's not a senior, but these two guys right here are special.  And five years ago I signed 12 guys, and I didn't have really much of a resume as a head coach.  It wasn't very sexy to come to Clemson.  But we had a plan, a vision, a hope, and a belief, and these guys believed, starting with this guy right here, Tajh Boyd.  I told him‑‑ I sat in his house at his kitchen table in Virginia, and Ohio State, Jim Tressel was, I think, in the backyard, and Bellotti was in the front yard waiting for me to leave.
And I sat there, and I told him, I said, Tajh, here's the plan.  If you'll believe in me, we'll change Clemson.  We'll change it.  It's not going to be easy.  We've got a lot of work to do, but we will change Clemson.  To see this young man finish his career tonight with an exclamation point like he did and leave here as the winningest quarterback in the history of our school‑‑ he tied with Rodney Williams‑‑ there's not a more deserving guy out there, and he did it in three years as our starting quarterback.  He's special.
All these seniors, they changed Clemson.  And how do you measure people or their legacy?  How do they impact the people there?  How do they impact the place that they were at?  They've changed this place.  We didn't quite get to the top of the mountain like we wanted, but we can see it.  Tonight we took another step forward, and I'm just so proud of these guys.  They're the winningest senior class since 1991, and they have set a standard here that everybody will be measured up against as we continue to move forward.
So thank you to all the Discover Orange Bowl folks for a great week.  I'm just so happy and proud of our team to find a way to win the game.

Q.  Tajh, just talk about, obviously, a little bit of a bittersweet night.  Great way to go out, but your final game in a Clemson uniform.  Just talk about kind of the emotions once this thing is over.
TAJH BOYD:  You know, this is a very special night.  Again, just the significance of this game, not for me particularly, not for this team particularly, but for the university, for the fans that support us day in and day out has been unbelievable.  So it's a very special, very special evening.  I couldn't pick a better way to go out as a senior.
And these guys right here, these are the guys I play for.  When we step on the field, we give it everything we've got.  Not for anybody else, but for these guys beside us.  What a special way to go out.

Q.  Tajh, do you guys talk about that last time you guys were down here in the Orange Bowl playing West Virginia, and is this kind of a redemption game for you to prove that, hey, this Orange Bowl last time we came down here, that's not who I am?
TAJH BOYD:  I mean, I think that's for other people to say.  Obviously, it's a disappointing and disheartening loss, but it's something you'll never forget.
During that season, we were a very young team.  We had won games, but we didn't understand success and we came with it.  For us, it was all about the transitioning and continuing to move forward year in and year out.  You see the accumulation of it in what we are now, just a driven team who knows how to win games in a clutch, and when we give ourselves a chance‑‑ when we give ourselves a chance to win the game, we go out there and do what's necessary.
So Coach trusts in us to do everything out on that field and puts the ball in our hands, and we just go out there and make plays.

Q.  Tajh and Sammy, did you see stuff on tape that you knew you'd be able to exploit their secondary and have Sammy have such a big day today?
SAMMY WATKINS:  Well, all through the week, we've just been preparing the right way and coaches putting us in the best situations.  We had 33 days to prepare for this team.  We knew what we could do and can't do.
I think Tajh and the offense did a great job with giving us the ball and giving ourselves a chance to make plays.  For the offense, I think, overall we played probably the best game we could have played minus the turnovers that we had.
Tajh played one of the best games, and the offensive line played great, and the wide receivers made plays and the running backs did also.
TAJH BOYD:  Obviously, the preparation heading to a Bowl is important, and with any team you're going to find weaknesses and weak spots, but it's not solely about them.  It's about us and what we're trying to accomplish.  It's about us going out there and executing our game plan.  We can go against no defense.  We can go against air.  But if we don't execute what we're doing, it's not going to work.
Again, it's not so much about them, but about what we can control, what we're doing.  That's one of the things Coach Swinney and Coach Morris stressed to us all the time.  It was very important heading into this game.  And it was important for us to go out there and not self‑destruct, and put ourselves in the best position to get a score.

Q.  Coach and Sammy, was this something that you had expected to throw as many bubbles as you did?  You must have had a dozen.
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, no.  I mean, part of what we do is we take what's there.  The biggest thing going into this game, we were going to win or lose the game going through No.10 or No.2.  That was the plan.  Obviously, you look at Tajh Boyd, he rushed for 137 yards.  I guess that's a career high.
COACH SWINNEY:  I told him not bad for a fat boy (laughter).  It was awesome.  We were going to put the ball in No.10's hands, and we felt like that was going to be a key.
This was the seventh best team in the country versus the rush, so we felt like that was our best chance to run the football, mixed in with hot rod, a little bit of what they do, to be honest with you.  And then take what's there in the passing game.  They gave us a lot of soft coverage towards Sammy, and we were just trying to just take advantage of what's there.
Guys did a great job of blocking on the edge and on the perimeter.  We had enough to where we hit some plays down the field, but that's what was there.  And so, no, we didn't really come into the game thinking we were going to throw as many screens as we did, but once we kind of got them on their heels a little bit, we just kept taking it.

Q.  Sammy, your reaction?
SAMMY WATKINS:  We definitely didn't come in with a game plan of throwing orange, but we saw the young cornerback out there and how far he was off us.  I think the wide receivers and tight ends did a great job of blocking down field, and coach did a great job of just coming back to the same thing and giving us success.  We definitely handled that well.

Q.  Spencer and Stephone, if you could each go through the interceptions you had on the last two drives.  And also, you know, just talk about how gratifying it must be for you guys as a defense to sort of make the plays that seal the game there at the end.
SPENCER SHUEY:  Well, on my interception, it was definitely kind of a play that Breeland was able to make.  He was able to come free and get some pressure on the quarterback.  He tried to throw it away late, and Breeland was right there on them, and I was able to get the ball and snatch it up before it hit the ground.
It was great to see how the defense and the offense complemented each other so well all night.  They had our back all night.  We gave them a few disappointing plays and left some guys wide open and had some definite busts.  They would come over to us and say they had our back.  They would step up and put some points on the board.  And when they turned the ball over, we would go out there and get some stops.  So it was a great thing to see how well we complemented each other.
STEPHONE ANTHONY:  To back that up, I just felt like we got turnovers and got stops when we needed them and got huge plays in the game that turned it around for us and sealed it up.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about the go ahead touchdown and just Stanton Seckinger making another big play when he gets a chance.
COACH SWINNEY:  A lot of talk about Stanton the last couple of days.  I felt like he'd be okay.
Listen, the spark to me was the punt return fumble.  We were down.  We were down.  We were minus one in the turnover margin, and that was a huge thing.  We talk about it all the time.  When we win the turnover margin, we win.  That's just the way it is for us.  When we don't win the turnover margin against a good team, we get beat.  So that was a huge, huge play because that evened us up, and we went on and capitalized from that.  That was the spark that we needed.
And then as Steph was just saying, we got stops.  They were 2 of 13 on third down.  We had a ton of stops.
Obviously, we had a couple of bone headed plays, especially on that last one back at the end of the game.  And then we go right back out, and Steph gets it back.  So I think they had four turnovers to our two, is that right?  So plus two in the turnover margin, that was the difference in the game.  That was the key for us.
If we don't get those turnovers, if our defense doesn't go out there and get those back so we can that margin, we probably get beat.

Q.  Sammy, you set the career receptions mark tonight, and you only needed three years to do it, obviously.  When you think about your legacy, how much does that mean to you?
SAMMY WATKINS:  It means a lot, but definitely, the offensive line and the coaches put me in the best situation to make plays.  Definitely blessed with great coaches and a great quarterback for the past three years.  It's not all about me, and it's definitely the offense that Coach Morris is running.  It's an honor to break all those records, but it's great to definitely do it with the team and have the success with the team.

Q.  As you make a decision soon with your future, how much will tonight's game and the way you played kind of be impactful with that?
SAMMY WATKINS:  Not at all.  I'm definitely going to sit down and talk to the coaches and my parents when I head back to Clemson.  We'll definitely break everything down, the scenarios.
COACH SWINNEY:  It will be a short conversation, real short conversation, if he's going to talk to me (laughter).
TAJH BOYD:  Oh, gosh.

Q.  Spencer and Stephone, a lot has been written about the defense not being that great and everything.  Talk to me about tonight, how you guys played, and even though the game, statistical‑wise, 427 yards they gained, you guys made big plays down the stretch and five sacks on Braxton Miller.
SPENCER SHUEY:  Yeah, that definitely was part of our game plan to be able to get some pressure on him.  He's an unbelievable quarterback, and they have an unbelievable offense and team overall.  So we knew we had to do something to try to make some plays.  By doing that, we were able to try to get a little pressure on him and try to get him to feel uncomfortable.
It was not so much about hearing how it was going to be such a high scoring game and blowout, that definitely put a little chip on our shoulder, and we definitely took a little offense to that and knew that we were better than that and knew that we wanted to hold them to as few points as possible.
They were able to put up 35 or so.  But what I'm really happy about and proud about is when we were able to make big plays in the critical times, that we were able to come up with those sacks and come up with those interceptions and turnovers and definitely proud of the defense and proud of the offense for having our back.
STEPHONE ANTHONY:  It goes back to pretty much getting the stops when we needed them, and they have great players too.  They're going to make some plays.  I just like the way we bounced back and kept responding to the adversity and getting the stops and two big turnovers at the end of the game.

Q.  Coach Swinney, what does this game do for Tajh Boyd's legacy?  A lot of people look at it and think maybe it's not as good as we think it is.  What is his legacy?
COACH SWINNEY:  Well, he's the winningest quarterback in the history of the school, did it in three years.  He set the standard for every quarterback to come through at Clemson.  He's got every record in the book at Clemson.  He's got a bunch of records in the ACC.  And he's done it with class.  He's done it with great integrity and great character.
Like I said, he set the standard for not only how you play the position but how you represent the program.  He's a lot of fun.  He's a lot of fun to coach.
All these guys right here, when your best players are your hardest workers, it makes my job very easy, and the coaches' job.  He put an exclamation point on his legacy tonight.
There's always going to be people out there that all they talk about is what you don't do.  Those are people who don't do jack.  When you're in the arena, you're going to have some failure along the way, and that's what helps you grow.  That's what helps you get better.  That's what helps you to develop.
This guy has transformed as a player and as a person since the day he came to Clemson, and he knows that.  He's ready.  He is a great, great competitor, great winner, great football player, great man.  And he has got an incredibly bright future.  Whoever drafts Tajh Boyd, he's going to be awesome for them, and he's going to be all in.  He's going to be all in.  And he'll change the community.  He'll change the team.  And he will continue to win because that's the greatest characteristic that he has.  And you can go all the way back to high school to all his career here.  The guy wins.
And he's just‑‑ and his best football is still in front of him.  He's still getting better.  So I'd say his legacy really speaks for itself, but I'm more than proud to talk about it a little further if you all want to spend a little more time talking about Tajh Boyd.

Q.  Sammy, after two disappointing Bowl performances for yourself individually, how important was it for you to have such a big performance or to do so well on the big stage?
SAMMY WATKINS:  It was definitely important for this university to get a win, and the coaches preached all during the process of practicing.  For me, I didn't mind getting hurt last year.  We definitely got the win, and things happen for a reason.
Tonight was just to go out there and have fun, go out with a bang, and get the 11‑2 in back‑to‑back seasons and just finish off my legacy here and definitely I did that.

Q.  Coach, as incentives for Sammy, will you offer him the chance to, A, pass more next year if he comes back?
COACH SWINNEY:  He's done passing the ball (laughter).  How wide open was that?  I mean, he threw‑‑ Tajh almost tried to fair catch it.  I mean, unbelievable.  It's unbelievable.
And the thing is he's got a great arm.  Was that the worst throw you've ever seen in your life?  It didn't have to be that hard.  We would have been up seven right there.  It's unbelievable.  He could have underhanded better than he did that.  He's done throwing balls.

Q.  How about the first class flights?  Will you throw that in as an incentive?  I guess you guys do that for seniors.
COACH SWINNEY:  All our seniors ride first class.  There's going to be some extra seats going back, so we might let old Sammy slide up there tomorrow, see how he does, see if he's ready for that.

Q.  And the thing I was going to ask you, Sammy, about your knee, when did you tweak it, and how is it feeling right now?
SAMMY WATKINS:  I don't know which play, but I kind of tried to go out for a block, and my cleat got stuck in the ground.  I definitely feel okay, and I'll be fine.

Q.  If you could expand on that, Sammy, a little bit.  Did you ever think that you weren't going to come back in the game because of the injury?
SAMMY WATKINS:  Not at all.  We have a lot of different things you can do in the training room.  I knew I was going to be okay.  I just bruised it or whatever I did to it.  I was going to finish the game either way, whether I was hurt.  I wasn't injured, so I was going to fight my way through the game.

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