CLEMSON — Sunday evening Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney addressed members of the media to talk further about his team’s Saturday win over Miami and of course the week ahead prior to facing rival South Carolina in Death Valley next Saturday.
The Tigers (10-1, 8-0), opening as a 14-point favorite over the Gamecocks (7-4, 4-4) Sunday, are seeking their eighth consecutive win in the series.
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The following is an abbreviated transcript of Sunday’s teleconference.
OPENING STATES: “Just a good game by our guys. I’m proud of our guys. Offensively, another fast start. Back to back games where we have had good balance. We had a couple of big drops but did a better job with penalties. We just controlled the game. We were 14 of 19 on third downs. We scored 100-percent in the red zone. I thought DJ did a great job, as did Mitchell coming in. Outside of the third quarter where we had a turnover fest , we were very solid. A lot of good things in the game.
“Defensively, we were dominant. 98 total yards and only eight at the half and 40 of those yards came on one play. We won the line of scrimmage. That’s back to back games where we have affected the quarterback. We created more takeaways. We were cleaner penalty-wise. We had a couple of critical errors and some busts that we have to get cleaned up. I just loved the effort of the team against a team that had come off a big win. A fun night. A good type to grade.
“We have to turn our attention now to this game. Thanksgiving changes our routine a little bit. We have a great challenge ahead.”
Q: What did you see on the coverage bust?
SWINNEY: “It was on Mukuba. He read the wrong signal. We were fortunate right there. Ruke had a one-on-one block with the guard and beat him. Just a missed signal.”
Q: The way South Carolina just blew out Tennessee last night will create some intrigue this week going in. As for your players and how they view the game?
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SWINNEY: “It doesn’t matter what your records are or what you’re coming off of. This is a game where you throw all that stuff out. It’s all about this game. It’s not what you’ve done last year or throughout this year. It’s about how you play in these four quarters. College football, as you saw yesterday, is unpredictable. It’s hard to win. This is the biggest game of the year and a season of its own. It’s a goal of its own. It’s a fun game to be a part of. I’ve been a part of a lot of rivalry games. It’s a fun week to get ready and a game that both teams will put everything they have into finding a way to win.”
Q: Any further clarification on Marcus Tate?
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SWINNEY: “He will be out. We got good news and bad news. His ACL is good, but there is like a ligament or a tendon … that’s where he got hurt. He’ll have to have surgery to get it fixed. He’ll be fine. The bad news is he’ll be out for us. I’m happy for him in that he was able to play 11 games and he’s still a young player who grew a lot this year. He’s got a lot of confidence and played so much faster and stronger than he did last year. He can play tackle for us as well. It’s unfortunate that his season is cut short but a blessing that he had the type of year that he had.”
Q: How did you grade Mitchell Mayes yesterday? And does it change anything with Collin Sadler?
SWINNEY: “Mitchell has done well. He’s basically started back to back games and we’ve had over 400 yards in each of the last two games. He has done a nice job. I’m glad he has had that type of experience. He had to play a ton of snaps. Very good for him. I’m glad we were able to get those two in there late, too. As far as Sadler, we are definitely going to play him as we need to, but we are going to try to hold him if we can. We have one game left on him.”
Q: The timetable on Tate’s return?
SWINNEY: “He’ll be back for spring practice but he’ll probably just be in a green jersey and doing individual stuff. I don’t think he’ll scrimmage or go full speed in the spring.”
Q: What do you make of South Carolina’s offensive explosion last night? Were you able to watch some of it?
SWINNEY: “I was able to watch a good bit of it last night after I got home. It’s a tough place to go and play. Their quarterback was great. Momentum is a powerful thing. They played a complete game in all phases. Tennessee, it wasn’t their night. You have to give South Carolina all the credit for that. Their quarterback was just outstanding. A lot of big plays.”
Q: Your thoughts on Jeremiah Trotter last night? The PBU play in particular?
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SWINNEY: “He read it (the PBU) but went a little flat. He did a great job of recovering and defending that. He’s a really good player just like we hoped he’d be. He’s playing with a ton of confidence and starting to grow into a leader for us.”
Q: You mentioned Spencer Rattler. What stands out about him and not just last night but from other film you’ve seen of him this year?
SWINNEY: “I watched him when he was at Oklahoma. He was a highly-recruited guy. He throws well on the move. He’s just a really good football player. That’s why he was the starter at Oklahoma and as highly-recruited as he was . Everything you like about a quarterback, he has. He’s got a great arm and is a competitor.”
Q: Does Fine come back this week?
SWINNEY: “We’re hopeful. It’s still day to day. He was close last week.”
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