CLEMSON – Sunday Night Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney spoke to the media on his weekly conference call, this time to take a closer look at his team’s disappointing 35-14 loss to Notre Dame during the staff review of the game on Sunday.
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The Tigers enter a week of preparation before next Saturday’s game at 3:30 p.m. ET with Louisville in Death Valley.
The following is an abbreviated transcript of Sunday evening’s conference call.
OPENING STATEMENTS“First of all, the injuries in the game… we had one in Beaux Collins. He will definitely be out this week. We will have a better assessment on him in the first part of the week. We haven’t still no full clarification on Xavier Thomas yet. They (doctors) are still consulting on the long term plan for him and what they are going to do in the short term.
“As I said last night, I’m really disappointed with the way we played. We had to win the rotation margin and stop the run. It’s as simple as that. They only had nine assists , but they were the most physical team. The critical the play was the blocked punt. We lost the momentum. It was a really bad night.
“The good news is we’re a better team than what I saw last night. Tough day when you know you’re better than you do. We’re 8-1, not 5-3. We own it , we learn about it and we just get back to work. That’s what we have to do. There’s nothing we can do about what happened yesterday. We’ll bring the team back here tomorrow and see if we can “We grow from that. It’s a chance to reset. There’s a lot of ball left and a lot of opportunities. The only thing we’re not interested in is that we know we won’t go unbeaten.
“We have a great opportunity this week to win the division title. We want to have the best possible result. I am delighted with another opportunity this week. We failed in our objective yesterday but we want to recommit ourselves to the standard we’re talking about.”
Q: Looking at the first half, that final score they got, how critical was that?
SWINNEY“It was. They only got one pass, but it was a long drive. They just physically gave it to us the sparkle or the spark that we needed. Just not very positive in the game. We had a few guys individually who played well but apart from that not a lot of good. We were beaten by a better team last night.
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Q: You have to go way back to look at the last time you were physically overwhelmed. Given how rare this is, how sure are you that it’s limited to this game and not something more pronounced?
SWINNEY“From what I’ve seen, we’ve played better this year. We shut out Syracuse in the second half. They’re a physical team. We’ve done it a few times. We have to react. I know that We have good people, good players, good coaches and a lot of people who care. We own it. You have to own it. And we have to fix it. There are a lot of little things that we have to do better. “It’s our job to make sure we do. The prospect is huge. We’re 8-1. We’ve been fighting all year.
“Our guys were really hurting last night. They’re going to come in tomorrow with a mindset to get back to it. There are only four teams left unbeaten. Every goal we have is still there for us. It starts with us. try to win this week. I’m confident, though, because I know who we are. It wasn’t who we were last night. I don’t want to take anything away from Notre Dame either, because they dominated the game In all areas.”
Q: With the two quarterbacks who took their balls last night, do you still trust them? Is DJ still the guy?
SWINNEY: “I have faith in both of them. DJ definitely needs to get back on track. Obviously Cade made a mistake and we probably put him in a bad position. Just a bad decision there. We want to continue to take him in. DJ is still a guy we believe in. He’s 14-1 in the last 15 games as a starter. It was a bit of a weird game with the way things went He made some positives but too many missed plays. Too many things he needs to clean up. We also need to get Cade opportunities and continue to assess that.”
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Q: On some of those pitches where DJ held the ball too long, were there several where he just didn’t see the open receivers or was there something else?
SWINNEY: “I thought he could have got rid of the ball on all of them. Four sacks and three of them he held too long. He was waiting for Antonio and Antonio got caught in traffic, so he has to get out quicker. They put us on one from the back and he had no chance. I promise you he’s already been here today to dissect things. Nobody cares more than him. Hopefully we get back on track this week.
Q: After watching the film, what exactly did you see with your defensive line breaking down last night?
SWINNEY“They’ve outplayed us a few times where we didn’t line up properly. We’ve been beaten by the lineup a few times. We’ve been beaten by our gap a few times. A combination of many things. It’s going to be a Tough, long, day for Tigers tomorrow (in training). It’s a shame you have to have a game like this, but I hope it makes us better. Hopefully we respond like the champions respond. Hopefully this week will be a good start for us.”
Q: Jeff Scott just got fired in south florida. Do you have a comment on that?
SWINNEY“Literally 30 seconds before I get here, Ross Taylor told me that. I didn’t know. I will contact Jeff. I know he gave it his all there and apparently it didn’t work out. He’s a great coach, a great person and someone I really like. I know he’s going to grow with it.”
Q: You don’t have a staff opening now but if something should happen later, hypothetically, it would be welcome, wouldn’t you?
SWINNEY“I don’t get into any of that stuff. I just want to beat Louisville rather than think about all that hypothetical stuff.”
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Q: Looks like when DJ was playing well earlier this season, his involvement in the running game was a big part of that. Has he been less present in recent games?
SWINNEY: “He was part of it in the Syracuse game. He had a few games in there. Definitely one of the things we could have done more of. We definitely walked away from the race a bit early (last night) , thinking back to Il. Shipley needed a few more touches. We only had 24 plays in the first half and Shipley only had seven runs and was averaging nearly seven yards per run. DJ made a great race last night and became a committed runner. Definitely part of the game. It’s not something he did a good job of last night. He did a lot this year, though, to help us win eight games. He needs to get back on track this week.
Q: I stick to the offensive, with some of your problems this year, brandon rueter said last night he felt he had the talent, guys to do the job. Are you looking schematically at what you are doing or is it an execution issue?
SWINNEY“It’s a combination of a lot of things. We’re 8-1. We’re better but we’re not close to where we want to be. We’re not where we’re going to be. We’re evaluating everything every week everything time.
“I like our players. We’ve done a lot of good things. We’re not 4-4, we’re not 5-3 like we were last year. We’re 8-1. We’ll try to “to get to 9-1 this week. No one is happy with any facet of our game at the moment. We are always trying to improve and improve.
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