HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEYOpening statement:“Well, I’m just really proud of our team. What an amazing performance by our guys. It was probably our best game of the year. That was our goal…to play our best four quarters tonight…championship football. When you’re a part of championship football, you have to be at your best.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Miami, Coach Richt and their team. What a great year they had. But tonight, our guys were just awesome. The turnover margin…a lot of talk about the turnovers…but to win the turnover margin 3-1, and to score 14 points off of turnovers to their none, was probably a big difference in the game.
“It’s just fun to be a part of it. I mean, it really is. This team…to win the third ACC title in a row…that’s the first time in 29 years at Clemson. Our seniors get their 50th win, which is an ACC record…it’s just a special moment. It really is. The credit goes to these players, our staff and the good Lord for just blessing us with great unity and vision.
“I’m just proud of them. Now we’re four quarters away from having a chance to play for a national title. We look forward to having a little time off, hitting the recruiting trail, giving these guys a chance to kind of reflect, refocus and get themselves ready. We’ll find out who we’re going to play tomorrow.
“I just cannot tell you how proud I am of the leadership of this team, the will to win they’ve displayed all year, but especially as we’ve gotten into this championship phase… their focus and their maturity. These two guys to my left have just been amazing. Christian [Wilkins] had an amazing game tonight. Kelly Bryant…I think he hit 15 out of 15 for his first 15 passes and seven out of seven for the first third downs of the game. Just a tremendous performance. They’ve just gotten better and better all year long.
“I’m really proud of our team. Courage, heart. We look forward to playing another one here in about a month.
On a potential weakness in Miami’s run defense:“No, that’s definitely not what I saw on film. Miami’s defense is really good. They’re No. 2 in the nation in tackles for loss, No. 1 in the nation for sacks and No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin. What I saw on film was great defense. What I saw on the field tonight was great execution.
“Just our guys with an unbelievable focus and will to win, they took care of business. But the third downs were critical. We kept them off balance, I thought. We got the ball on the edge a little bit and also got it up between the tackles. I thought we had great rhythm in the passing game. Again, it was a well-executed game plan. So our offense came out and scored, and defensively we set the tempo. I thought our special teams were outstanding tonight, too.
On being the defending National Champion:“No, we’re the attacking champs. We’re attacking for another one. That’s been our mindset all year. We’re not defending anything. I mean, like I said earlier in the year, if we had the same team back…but we’ve got a different team. We’re attacking to try to go win another one.
“But it’s sequential, man. You have to take care of business. We’re four quarters away. We worked all year to have this opportunity. We’ve earned it. We look forward to playing on that stage and putting our best foot forward.
KELLY BRYANT, QuarterbackOn his feelings after being named game MVP:“It’s great to see all the work I’ve been putting in in the off-season just to be in this moment right now. It’s special because we had a lot of questions going into the season and a lot of guys that left last year. But, you know, just having the guys around me, the coaches believe in me, just been really great to see.
“I’m just trying to do my job, like Coach Dabo said, be the best version of Kelly B that I can be.”
On the realization that Clemson had the advantage:“For me, I just think that everybody was just having fun out there. The offense was clicking, and the defense was playing really well. Special teams…flying around, making plays. It was just great to see everybody was playing, everybody was on the same page and everybody was in a rhythm.
“It just really shows the type of team we have…a bunch of guys that have bought in and go out there to finish the way we want to finish, never satisfied. We’re still working to finish the way we want to finish.
On five different players scoring for Clemson:“We have a bunch of guys that can make a play for us. And also just starting up front, we have guys that do all the dirty work that don’t get enough credit for all the things they do up front…making us look good. I just want to give credit to those guys.
“Like I said, it just shows the quality of depth that we have on the offensive side of the ball.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS, Defensive Lineman
On Bryant’s contributions this season:“Before I answer that question, I want to give a special shoutout to First Sargent Frank Thomas, who sang America the Beautiful before the fourth quarter.
“That’s just a time to reflect…definitely appreciate and look and see how proud you are to be an American. That was remarkable. I was singing right there with him. A lot of my teammates were singing right there with him. It was a good time to reflect and appreciate, for sure.
“To answer your question, Kelly has just been great all year…just the guy he’s become. He’s stayed himself and been true to himself the whole time. He had all this hype, now he’s proven he can play, and he hasn’t let that go to his head. He’s still the same goofy Kelly. Now he’s emerging as a leader for us even more. He knew he had to step up and be a leader…contribute on the field. Now he’s even more so of a leader. He’s got guys looking up to him. He’s one of the first guys to come over and congratulate the defense when we get a three-and-out, making big plays like that. That doesn’t go unnoticed. He’s great with that. He’s really embracing it. He’s been great for us all year.
On the realization that Clemson had the advantage:“The offense did a good job of starting off hot…went right down the field, scored a touchdown. Then defense got a three-and-out. Cut to the fumble, we had to go back out there again. Definitely, it was just big getting off the field again after the missed field goal and everything.
“We just really had the mentality that we never were satisfied really. We just had to finish the whole time. We tried to stay locked in. Even when we were rotating guys and putting the younger guys in, we just kept encouraging them. Those are all meaningful snaps to them and everything. We stayed locked in all the way throughout.
March 14, 2019