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Swinney’s Tuesday Press Conference

Swinney’s Tuesday Press Conference

Opening Statement:

“We’re excited about playing Miami. We’re excited about taking our talents to South Beach and seeing if we can play our best game in this one game season that we have against the Hurricanes. Miami is a really talented football team and they’re an improving team. If you watch their games from the beginning to the end in sequence, it’s very obvious to see that their confidence has grown and they’re improving. I think that they have figured some things out personnel wise, they have people in the right places and they’re playing their best football of the season. That’s what good teams do, they get better as the year goes and that’s what I see in Miami.”

“Offensively, it’s the best quarterback we’ve seen. He’s smart, he’s poised, he’s very aware of what’s going on. He has great fundamentals for the position and excellent feet. He’s the guy. They want to put the ball in his hands and he’s good enough to beat you. So this is a big challenge for us. Their running backs are very much involved in the passing game. I think [Joseph] Yearby is the third leading receiver of the team. They do a great job of involving those guys and incorporating those guys into their packages. This is the best group of receivers that we’ve seen. They’re going to put three or four guys on the field that could play for anybody and all can run. And they have a trigger guy back there that can get them the ball. So they’re really talented group. This will be the biggest challenge we’ve had from a coverage standpoint. Every team we’ve played up to this point had a run first mentality. This team wants to throw the football. So it’s a big challenge for our guys. Offensively, they take care of the football. They are number one in the nation in turnover margin. They’re doing a great job of taking care of the football and they lead the nation in that regard. That will be a big factor in this game.”

“Defensively, the biggest thing is they have a ton of depth on the defensive line. They’ve played a lot of guys. They’ve got about seven defensive ends that they’ve played. They’ve kind of settled on #8 and #9 as their starters. Those guys have the potential to be superstars in our league. They are long and athletic and are quick twitch physical guys. They’re big and thick inside with #92 and #93. #93 is a veteran guy that’s been very active for them. They have a lot of depth in that defensive line. They did lose as good a player as there is in this league in #56. That’s unfortunate for them; he’s a great player. Their secondary has eleven interceptions amongst them. They are a very experienced group in the back end so it will be another big challenge for us. Their kicker is 16/19 and their punt returner is top-15 in the nation. So this is a team that’s capable of making plays in all three phases. They are another tough opponent for us, especially going back on the road. They’re 16-3 in their last 19 homes games. We have to go play a great game. We’re going to have to play much better than the last time we went on the road. Both teams control their destiny in their division so there’s a lot at stake in this one.”

On the game in Miami in 2009:

“That’s one of the best. It was an awesome night. There were a lot of playmakers on that field. They were top-10 in the country and I think that was our first top-10 win. If you go back and look at that game, there were a lot of NFL players on both sides. It was an electric night. I’ll never forget that kick return by [C.J.] Spiller, the wheel route by Spiller, the overtime play to Jacoby [Ford] or the throw by KP (Kyle Parker). Especially, because we got off to a slow start and we went on to win six in a row and beat Florida State. It was a fun year and we were just getting started. I was down there in 2004 and 2009, both overtime games. It’s a fun place to play and our guys are excited. A lot of these guys know each other. I have great respect for Al Golden and the job he’s done there. They have a roster full of talent.”

On Deshaun Watson’s growth this year:

“He’s just a confident player. He knows what we’re doing. He’s well coached, he’s very smart and that’s why he’s a great player. He studies and prepares during the week. The game is not fast for him. He doesn’t get overwhelmed. Maybe he has a bad series or makes a bad play but he doesn’t carry that over. He’s a very confident guy and he just plays the game. He made a huge play in the BC game on the long play with Deon [Cain]. We get in the play and he had a bad look so he checked us into a better play. That’s what good players do and that’s how we train our quarterbacks. We’re not one of those teams that tell our quarterback what to do all the time. Our quarterbacks are trained to do a lot of different things. That’s why he’s tough to beat.”

On what aspect of this year’s defense that has surprised him the most:

“Nothing. Its kind of what I said in the preseason. I thought we would be really good in the back end and that you weren’t going to notice much difference up front. I’m not surprised at all. It’s played out exactly like I thought it would. I though [Kevin] Dodd would be a great player. I thought Shaq [Lawson] would be a great player. I thought Carlos Watkins and [Scott] Pagano would step up and be excellent for us. If there is a surprise maybe it’s the aptitude and quick adjustment that Christian Wilkins made. Outside of that, I think we’re right where we hoped we would be.”

On what the team needs to improve for the second half:

“All of it. We need to keep improving every single day. I think the biggest thing for us is to continue to build that depth. Some guys might not be playing a lot but we’re still preparing them and teaching them. Even practice guys are getting better. We’ve been pretty fortunate defensively because we’ve stayed relatively healthy up to this point. That’s allowed us to bring some guys along at a pace that’s healthy for everybody. Hopefully when they get their opportunity they will be prepared.”

On the team being better equipped to handle success:

“We’ve had a lot of success over the last six years and winning breeds confidence. Not only confidence in them as players but confidence in your philosophy and how you do things. Guys have bought in to the mentality of our program. They’re not surprised that they’re 6-0. This is what they expected. We’re not going to get anybody’s B-game. We’re going to get everybody’s A-game. We just focus on trying to prepare our best, putting our best foot forward and trying to control the things we can control. That’s the mentality of our guys. The leadership on this team has had a ton of success. You’re talking about a group going for their fifth 10+ win season. They haven’t lost a lot of games. And then when they do lose; they keep moving and keep getting better. We have a lot of young guys but the veterans on this team get it. We’re depending on them to keep us focused as we move through the rest of the year.”

On going on the road:

“I like going on the road. I think our guys are excited about getting back out on the road. That’s part of the process each and every year. I wish they would let us play all of our games at home but it doesn’t work that way. You look forward to each and every game and the challenge each game brings. We’re playing a great team at their place. How awesome is it to load up and go to South Beach and play at a place that the College Football Playoff is going to be held and a place where we won the Orange Bowl? We have a bunch of guys from Florida being able to go home to their home state and play. It’s exciting.”

On the fan apathy in Miami:

“That doesn’t have anything to do with us. Whether there’s 100,000 people or 100, we’re going to play to a standard. We don’t play to a crowd. We play to a standard and none of the rest of it matters.”

On D.J. Reader:

“We will get him out there today. Today and tomorrow are heavy workdays so we will throw him out there. You have to get a guy acclimated. This is a violent sport, especially when you’re a nose guard. We need to be smart with him. We will start working him today and tomorrow. Obviously, he’s been out so we have a group that’s game ready. I don’t know if he will play much if at all this weekend. We will just see how it is. I think as we get him acclimated this week to jump in there and be confident about what he’s doing.”

On if he was surprised that Reader was returning to the team:

“No. I was hopeful. He told me when he left that he was going to deal with some things and come back at some point. I didn’t know when so I wasn’t going to sit around and worry about it. I’m glad that he’s back and he seems like he’s in a good place mentally. So we will get him out there and start coaching football again.”

On the shape Reader is in:

“He looks great. He’s been working out and training. His weight is good. Physically he looks really good.”

On if Reader will travel this weekend:

“Oh yeah. Unless he’s hurt this week, he’ll be with us. Again, it’s hard to just throw a guy in there. We’ve had a pretty good group in there playing and this guy’s been out since August so he needs to earn his way back. You do that through practice. Maybe he plays and if he does, he won’t play a whole lot if at all. Certainly by next week he will be ready to flex his muscles even more.”

On running the ball this weekend:

“We always want to run the ball, there’s no question. Last week was just a philosophy of you are not going to run the ball. And they (Boston College) did it against Florida State too who I think has the best running back in the country. Boston College can take the run away from you. And we were still good enough to make some plays. This is different as far as style of play. Miami has done a good job of staying on top of things in the passing game. So we want to run the ball and also take what’s there in the passing game but we need to finish drives and convert in the red zone. We’ve got a tough challenge on our hands. If you look at all their (Miami’s) games, they have really improved. Against Florida State, they did a great job except for about three plays and they were going against as good of a player as there is in the country in Dalvin Cook. That guy is a freak. They couldn’t have done a better job. He made three plays in that game that were the difference in the game. Miami had so many bodies to work with so I think it just took them some time to figure out who their best personnel was but I think they have that dialed in now.”

On Miami’s receivers:

“#3, 11 and 6 are all really good players. [Brad] Kaaya is the guy and he just knows where to go with the ball. Formation wise, they do a good job. They’re going to find some matchups, especially if we play man coverage.”

On the challenge of playing Miami once every five years:

“It’s not a challenge. We know who they are. We watch them all the time on tape. Even though we don’t play them, we see them all the time. These guys are aware of everybody in the conference. We haven’t played Pittsburgh yet but I see them on tape against other opponents so I don’t think that’s a big deal.” 

On the depth the team is developing at linebacker:

“We want our best guys in there. We only played 60 plays the other night, it’s not like we’re playing 80 or 90. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of getting off the field. Jalen [Williams] and Kendall [Joseph] are really improving and are earning more trust as we go. If we need them, they’ll be ready.”

On the Playoff rankings being released soon:

“It’s irrelevant right now. It doesn’t matter. We have to go play the games. If we take care of our business, all that stuff takes care of itself. It’s not even worth the conversation at this point. We’ve got a pretty good resume. We’re the only team in the top-12 that’s beaten a team in the top-12 at this stage. But what does that mean? This time next week it could be totally different, and it will be. Every week is a season of it’s own. How many people predict a bracket right every year? It’s hard. It looks good on paper but you have to go play. It’s fun to talk about but every week in college football is a playoff game. The picture changes each week. We just need to take care of Clemson then maybe it’s worth a conversation in November. Sitting here at 6-0, it’s just like halftime. You have to go play the second half. This time last year I don’t even know if Ohio State was in the conversation of the final four and they won the National Championship. So none of that stuff matters.”

On keeping up with the Playoff:

“Oh yeah I track it. It was interesting to follow. My final four last year was different than their final four but I’m not on the committee. They will probably be even better this year. I think it worked out great. It made college football even better.”

On the social media attacks on college football players:

“There’s nothing you can do about it. You just better have some mental toughness or don’t play or coach. Go do something where you’re out of the fray. There’s nothing you can do about it. People can go online and say whatever they want to say anytime they want to. Everybody is media now. Everybody has a cell phone. You can’t do anything about it. You just have to understand you’re going to be open to criticism. We’re all flawed people and we all fail. Some of us just fail in front of a big audience. That’s why you see a lot of young people making mistakes because their whole life is played out. I think it puts more pressure and expectations on them. So whether you’re a coach or a player you have to really have the proper perspective to understand what really matters.”

On the mental toughness part of college football:

“It’s a huge part of who we are. We’ve won 15 out of 16. Hasn’t happened since the 1940s. You better have some mental toughness to do that. You have to develop mental toughness all year long. As coaches, we’re dealing with things now that I never thought I’d have to deal with. It’s a completely different world. That’s why you have big support staffs. There are just a lot of different pressures and challenges in 2015 than there were in 1985, 1995 or even 2000. It’s a totally different world in being able to help these guys think the right way and handle success, failure and negativity.”

On situational football:

“We cover all types of situations. We do a lot of that in the preseason. We have reminders every week.”

On what Clemson did for a sick young girl last weekend:

“That’s just great. Most schools recognize the opportunity they have to make people smile. Clemson certainly gets that. They do a wonderful job of trying to help people in our community as often as possible. It was a great moment.”