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September 25, 2013

Dabo Swinney talks Wake and more

No. 3 Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC) is 4-0 against Wake Forest since Dabo Swinney was promoted to head coach of the Tigers.

Swinney spoke with members of the media about Saturday's meeting with the Demon Deacons and more.

Opening Statement: "I am glad to get back on a normal schedule this week. For the next six weeks we are on what I consider a normal schedule. We will try to get our guys acclimated to our normal routine. To be honest with you, we really haven't had much of a normal routine this year. We are looking for a little continuity."

"Homecoming week is always special. I really, really appreciate the great job that the student body does here."

They bring a lot of energy to the campus. It is just a special week, especially because of all the floats and the whole deal. You are able to ride around and see all of the pageantry associated with it."

"Wake Forest is 2-and-2. They are well coached as always. Two years ago, they came in here and we had to kick the game-winning field goal to win it. They always play us tough. Our guys are going to have to have a great week of preparation and we are going to have to play well. This a opportunistic team and they will take advantage of any mistakes you make."

"Offensively, they have done a lot in four games. They have a done a lot of different things from a play calling standpoint. We have a lot to prepare for from the option to spread and everything that comes with that. It will be a big challenge preparation wise. They have six starters back, including the quarterback [Tanner] Price."

"They have three good running backs. [Josh] Harris is a guy that has been around for a very long time for them and is a very good player. The guy that you better know where he is and have a plan for is [Michael] Campanaro. I think he caught 16 balls in one game. He is a guy that is a player. I think two years ago he returned a punt against us and made I don't know how many catches. He is a really good football player and they do a good job of getting him the ball so we have to handle him."

"Defensively, they have six starters back. It all starts with them up front with [Nikita] Whitlock. I thought he was gone. I couldn't believe he was still on the roster. I didn't that guy was ever going to get out of this league."

"He is a nightmare. The guy is really a good football player. He was ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week this week along with Vic Beasley. You look at him and he probably isn't as tall as they list or as big as they list but he plays tall and big. He's just a good football player and for me, he is kind of the heart for them."

"They play an odd front so they have three true freshman defensive lineman in the game at one time. That's not to say that they won't slide into some even stuff with their linebackers but primarily, they are an odd team."

"Their linebackers are good players and they have a couple guys back at that position. Their secondary, to me, is as good as we have played. The two corners they have, (Merrill Noel) and (Kevin Johnson), are very good players. They are three-year starters. (A.J. Marshall), the safety, is another returning starter. They do as good "of a job as anybody we play every year in the secondary. They know what they are doing. It is a big challenge by our guys outside competing against them."

"On special teams, it is (Campanaro). He is the return guy for them and we know very well what he is capable of doing. We are looking forward to getting back in the Valley this week and I hope we play our best game to this point."

"Our staff will be participating in the AFCA Coaches to Cure MD program. It's a great program. It's something that we participate in every year so we will be wearing patches in regards to that."

On challenges of having players focused (after injuries, Watkins's car accident): "I thought they showed up ready to go. On Monday morning, we met at 6:00 AM. We had dinner Sunday night and they had to check in. All those guys got back here. It was an opportunity to reinforce, as we always do, how fragile life is and how precious time is. Nobody knows when your time is up so make sure you are prepared for that. Be careful. We stress that all the time to these guys. It was a really bad wreck that Carlos [Watkins] was involved in and he is incredibly fortunate."

"Unfortunately, his cousin didn't make it. Carlos had his seat belt on. We all know what a big man he is and he was pinned in the car for over two hours. It is just a miracle that he doesn't have broken bones or anything like that. Hopefully, we will get him back today and try to get him going. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. It is also Dane Rogers's cousin. They are a part of the same family. Just a tough time for that family."

On what he will do when Carlos Watkins returns: "The first thing I am going to do is to hug his neck. I am just thankful to see him. I have talked to him a few times. Young people sometimes have a sense of invincibility. Then you get thrown in to a situation like that where you realize just how fragile life is. I am just going to hug him and tell him that I am glad to see him. We will do everything that we can to help him get through this valley that he is in. It's the same thing with Dane."
"Dane wasn't in the car but it's a tough time for him as well."

On the depth of the defensive line: "I really like our guys up front. They are becoming the strength of our team. When you can be really good in the defensive line, it covers up a lot of issues because it creates problems for other people, especially when you have depth. For me, we have the right combination of depth, talent and experience and they are good players."

"They are playing hard, getting to the quarterback, getting pressure on the quarterback and creating turnovers."

"That's what happens. Pressure and great effort creates turnovers. Our defensive has done a great job in all these areas. The competition you have at that position is very important because that effects your practice environment and we have a very good situation there. We don't have any seniors in that group. They are all battling hard and they all want to play. They are very unselfish and pull for each other. They tap in and out of there and they all go play."

On the differences of the Wake offense: "Well, up at Boston College they ran a lot of option. Then they played Louisiana Monroe and did not run a lot of option. Then they played Army and didn't run as much as against BC but ran more option. They run their quarterback some. They run a lot of trap. That is a tough play to handle and that's their way of controlling some guys up front. They are in and out of formations and personnel groupings. It is not like we have seen one film and can say that is who they are. They have presented a lot of different challenges. What I think they are trying to do is to give themselves a chance to win each week."

On the play of Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony: "I think both of those guys are playing at a very high level. Stephone was ACC Linebacker of the Week. Shuey was the Lott Impact Player of the Week. People have recognized their play. They have played hard. Spencer has just kind of picked up where he left off. Stephone has really taken another step forward and is having a great year for us. He is very confident. I am very pleased with how they have played."

On the development of Shaq Lawson: "To be honest, going in to the Georgia game, Marion [Hobby] came to me and said I got three starters. He was struggling between Vic, Corey [Crawford] and Shaq. I told him if it is a tie, then tie goes to the veteran. I wanted him to see him transfer it from the practice field to the game field. It was really a tie between him and Vic coming out of practice, to be honest. I told Vic that too."

"You have to go and preform. This big boy is on your heels right here. It has been fun. You're all going to play but who gets thrown out there first is always a big deal to those guys. It has been fun because he has done just that. He has transferred what we have seen in practice to the game field. This guy is a special talent. In my opinion, he might be the best guy we have signed as a freshman since I have been here as a defensive lineman."

"His upside is tremendous."

"Another thing about Shaq is that he loves to play. He loves to practice. He always has a smile on his face. He brings a lot of energy and emotion to a position that you better have those things to be great at it. I am pleased to see where he is. He is off to a great start in his freshman campaign."

On the defense getting some praise: "I love it. I will take 11 more wins like we just had, right now. It's great when you play great defense. It's like in basketball. It is just not always going to go in the bucket for you but if you play great defense then you keep yourself in the game. Our defense is getting better. We are much better after three games than we were last year after three games. We are not where we need to be but our guys are hungry. They want it. They are practicing the right way. The coaches are doing a tremendous job."

"We just have more knowledge than we have had. We are healthier than we have been, especially on the back end. Getting Martin Jenkins back is a big plus for us. You will continue to see his role increased. [Bashaud] Breeland is like night and day. He looks like the guy that was a freshman. He is a healthy and confident. Darius [Robinson] is the same way and Garry Peters. I really like our two safeties and they are still growing. This is their first year playing safety so they are still growing into the role there."

"The biggest area that we have grow on this team is to develop depth at safety. We have guys but we really have to develop that depth. We have to play them and let them play through mistakes and learn and grow. As we go through the course of the season, we are going to have to have some depth."


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