Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney
“That game was just heart. That right there is what it’s all about – seeing a group of guys play like a family and have each other’s back. They had a ‘never quit’ attitude. Jayron Kearse’s play at the end of the game was the epitome of the day – he never quit. We won the game on special teams, on defense and with just enough offense to get by.
“Louisville’s defense today was the best defense Bobby Petrino has had and the best ‘Petrino defense’ we’ve seen in awhile. It took awhile for us to get going against them, but we just kept battling. Our last offensive drive was huge. It gave us time to get the defense some rest and get back out there and win the game for us.
“We’ve been getting better on special teams and that’s now three weeks in a row where we’ve been outstanding. Ammon Lakip was 3-3 (on field-goal attempts), and it was just huge.
“We had to fight for every inch out there today. Our defense was tremendous. Louisville was 1-17 on third down. We had stops on third & short and fourth down, we created two turnovers and scored on defense. (Vic) Beasley got the (sack) record and (Ben) Boulware played tremendous as he stepped in for Tony Steward. This was a great team win.
“We don’t want to let what happened on Louisville’s last offensive possession happen, but just to see the defensive heart was awesome. Jayron (Kearse) running the guy down was great. This was an awesome game to be a part of. It’s good to win games like that. Our seniors are 7-1 in games decided by a touchdown. That’s an attitude and commitment…that’s football.
“Cole Stoudt lost his job as a starter, but he’s such a great example for our team. He didn’t take a snap in practice all week because of his hurt shoulder. He was 20-33 (passing) tonight, which isn’t perfect, but after not taking a snap in practice all week, he was a great leader. Instead of pouting, crying and going home after losing his starting job, he chose to have a good attitude and go back to work. He’s continued to be just as good a leader as he was when he was starting. It seemed like the air went out of us when we lost Deshaun (Watson), but Cole went in and picked us up.
“This was just a great team win. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino
“That was a tough game to lose. Our defense played extremely well. Offensively, we had a tough time getting things going. We continued to tell them on the sidelines and at halftime to keep competing and we’ll try to find a way in the fourth quarter to get it going and get that fourth-quarter win. Unfortunately, we just came up a little short. We just didn’t make enough plays early in the game offensively to give us a chance to take a lead. I think it would have been a little different if we had a chance to lead, and that was the advantage they got. Both defenses played well. I hated to see us give up that punt return because he punted the ball pretty well all night and helped us with field position. But that was hard to overcome when you give up points on special teams.”
On spiking the ball on third down near the end of the game:
“I thought that we had the one touchdown play that we practiced and would be able to get it in on fourth down. The clock was running down so we felt like we needed to spike it. You can always look back and say, ‘Well, we could have thrown a fade,’ or something like that, but you feel like if you have a chance to huddle and regroup you’ll be able to get it in there. They called a great play on second down, where it looked like we had a great chance to run the ball into the endzone, but they blitzed that inside gap and stopped it.”
On the play of quarterback Will Gardner:
“I thought he came in and gave us a lift. That first drive gave us a big play. Going to Eli (Rogers) down the middle really helped us and gave us a chance. He made some good decisions. We had one drive where we had an opportunity to go and take the lead and we weren’t able to move the ball. That really hurt us. Then they drove it for a long time. We’re still a work in progress and we have to get it put together pretty quick. There’s always some things that you like to see. We ran the ball pretty good at times and then they started putting nine guys down to the run, so we tried to take some shots down the field and missed on a couple. We thought that making the move to Will gave us the opportunity to throw the ball a little better.”
On the play of the defense:
“They’re playing really well. They’re doing a really good job. They’re stopping the run. They’re putting pressure on the quarterback and getting interceptions. They’re making plays on fourth down. We’re putting a lot of pressure on them. That’s the problem…the offense is putting a lot of pressure on the defense. We had a lot of time of possession in the first half and I thought that really helped us, but we weren’t able to do that in the second half.”
Postgame Clemson Player Quotes
DeShawn Williams, DT
On Louisville win:
“It was an old school slug match and we knew that going into the week. I told the Louisville players on the field it was going to be an old-school game. Defense played lights out tonight. We gave up one touchdown, but we played lights out.”
On final drive:
“We’re built for stuff like that. We’ve been through so much, we were ready for that. We led the team as a defense the whole game, so why not finish it? When he threw the ball, I knew he threw it to me, so I just put my hands up and batted it down. It was a great team effort.”
Cole Stoudt, QB
On playing for the injured Deshaun Watson:
“It’s something that I have done before. It’s something I’ve prepared for and I was ready throughout meetings and practice and I was ready for my situation.”
On injured shoulder:
“It hurt pretty bad, but I didn’t want to come out, so I just fought through it. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity, so I just stayed out there with the guys and it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.”
Ben Boulware, LB
On getting the start at linebacker:
“I was prepared, but I didn’t know for sure. I know Tony (Steward) was on the edge and I think he could have played if he had to, but the coaching staff didn’t want to risk it. I really knew on Thursday, and thank God my opportunity is here.”
On four tackles for loss:
“I’m just happy because I’ve worked my butt of for years, and to finally get the opportunity to show people I can play, I’m just happy it’s finally paying off.”
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