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Swinney Weekly Press Conference Transcript

Oct. 12, 2010

Watch Swinney’s Press Conference on TigerCast

Opening statement: “Maryland is playing with a lot of confidence and they’re coming off an open date so it’ll be a big challenge. They have some really talented players. They have good backs. Da’Rel Scott’s been around and he’s got excellent yards per carry.

“The biggest challenge for us defensively is the quarterback situation. Now that (Matt) Robinson is back, they like to do a zone read and now we have to prepare for two different guys. We feel like they’re going to try to run the quarterback with Robinson so we have to do a good job preparing for that.

“We have to do a better job up front in stopping the run. We have to do a better job forcing field goals. We have to either score or be able to set up a score for the offense.

“This Maryland offense might be the most difficult we have had to prepare for this year. They do a lot of different things. Very seldom do they stay lined up where they initially line up. They move all over the place.

“Defensively, they do a lot of things that make it challenging to get ready for them. They have the guy who’s second in the league in sacks behind Da’Quan Bowers in Joe Vellano. All their linebackers are back. The safeties look like linebackers. The biggest challenge for us is getting them identified.

“The other challenge is special teams. They lead the nation in punt returns. We’re third in the conference in punt returns (12.6 return yards as a team) but Maryland is averaging 27 return yards. We just have to find a way to win.

“Guys have to continue to believe in each other. Everybody’s staying together as a team. They’re taking ownership as a team and this group has a real determined spirit. They were anxious yesterday to get here and get started. We’re just trying to find a way to win a game this week and if we can do that we’ll go from there.”

On leadership: “We have several guys (seniors, juniors, third year sophomores) who are truly invested and want to lead. Da’Quan Bowers; a lot of guys stand up and challenge the group and challenge themselves.

“The reality of it is that we have had three tough, gut-wrenching losses to good teams. We haven’t lost to a bad team. Two of those losses were on the road. It’s very frustrating because I know the character and talent of our team. I know how hard our team has worked and how much they’ve sacrificed.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the players and I want these guys (and our fans) to taste the success. We’ve gotten no breaks; none, zero. We had the ball Saturday for 1:45 in the fourth quarter and we scored with that time, but it’s hard to win a game when you only have the ball for 1:45.”

On how Clemson has played on offense: “I thought the offense played pretty well at Auburn. Against Miami, we turned the ball over six times and had a couple key drops. At North Carolina, we had some eight or nine-play drives and we just couldn’t quite finish like we needed to. We have to do a good job of finishing with points.

“We’ll get better. The offensive line has been the most consistent group on our team. There are a lot of positives, but the ultimate thing is the scoreboard. We’re getting better on third down and I thought we caught the ball much better, but we just have to keep working. We cut down on the big plays and didn’t turn the ball over at all, but now you have penalties.

“They had an 14-play drive and we stopped them, but it kept going because of penalties. We’re going to get better. It’s going to turn. We’re going to get those breaks. We’ve just got to keep at it and keep believe in what we’re doing.

“I think we’ve got the leadership that it’s going to take to come out of it. I think the guys believe, and if we stay committed to those little things, we’ll be ok. We have a football team that’s different from last year, but they certainly can draw from their experiences. We were sitting here last year at 2-3, miserable. That team listened to the right things, changed the little things and six weeks later they were playing for their conference title. We’ve got good players, got good coaches and everybody is staying the course.

On Maryland success against Clemson: “They’ve just played better than us. Last year was a very difficult day. We had a bunch of turnovers, missed some kicks, and we weren’t a very good football team that day but we’ve got to get better. “

On penalties: “That’s the most penalties Clemson’s had in a long time (5 YEARS). You pick a ball off and you’ll have a first down on the 17-yard line and there’s a flag; it’s costly. I hope it’s a one-time thing because we’re not going to win many ball games with that many penalties. “

On Jamie Harper:Andre Ellington needs to touch the ball more. He’s earned that. He just has to get the ball more.

“Jamie Harper a good football player. We have to make sure he has opportunities, but right now, Ellington has been more productive and deserves more opportunities. We just have to make sure he’s getting enough touches to impact the game. Hopefully Jamie will respond the right way, because he is a competitor. Right now, Ellington is the most explosive guy we have so he has to get more opportunities. Right now, Andre is the starter. He’s earned the opportunity based on game day production.

“He’s had some bad luck. He’s had a few things that have gone bad on him that haven’t been his fault (bad play); a little bit of “wrong place, wrong time”. He just has to settle down and stop trying to make too much happen. He hasn’t played his best the last couple of gamesM but he has plenty of football left.

On Nuke Hopkins: “He’s a really good player. He’s one of those rare guys that come along that just have it. He’s extremely competitive. He’s not a “me” guy. He’s about winning. I want as many DeAndre Hopkins on this team as I can get. He’s going to be a special player.

“We’ve got to be a little patient with him, but he is big time talented and we’re very excited he did some good things. He looks like a freshman at times, but the thing about it is that he’s going to get better and better and better.

“Same thing with Bryce McNeal and DeAndre McDaniel and DeAndre Hopkins are eerily similar. They both never came off the field in high school. But, McDaniel didn’t want any part of wideout. Nuke doesn’t get overwhelmed; he doesn’t talk trash, he doesn’t say anything. You just see what he does.”

On play calling: “I trust the coaches 100 percent. I’ve got good coaches. I’ve got opinions on both sides of the ball. There are things I bring up a lot. All the bad things are on me. All the good things are on them. I’ve got coaches who care about these players. They want to win. They spend hours and hours trying to be the best at their craft. I’m very pleased with the staff we have. I’m not pleased with where we are, but that stops with me. I’ve got to get these guys over the hump. We just have to keep hammering at it.”

On C.J. Spiller coming to game Saturday to have number retired: “It will be great to have C.J. back on campus. He wants to run down the hill with the team and be a part of the Tiger Walk. I hate I won’t be able to be out there with him at halftime when his number is retired. He deserves it. What a special young man. When my grandchildren come to Clemson games they will talk about C.J. Spiller.

“One of the great days of last year took place after we had lost to Maryland. I was working in the office and not in a great mood. He sent me a text. “Don’t worry about this coach, I have your back.”

“And he did, he led us to the Atlantic Division championship by the end of the year. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for that young man.

Tickets are now available at a discounted rate for the Clemson vs. Maryland game on October 16. Adult tickets are $24 each and youth tickets (18 and under) are $10 each.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Tickets are also still available for Clemson’s home games against Georgia Tech (October 23) and N.C. State (November 6). Tickets are $48 each for the N.C. State game and $50 each for the Georgia Tech game. Tickets may be purchased online at ClemsonTigers.com or by phone at 1-800-CLEMSON.

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