Swinney on DJU, Notre Dame, Klubnik, first loss, goals, Jeff Scott

CLEMSON — Sunday evening Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney addressed members of the media in his weekly teleconference, this time to take a closer look at his team’s disappointing 35-14 loss to Notre Dame upon Sunday’s staff review of the game.

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The Tigers head into a week of preparation ahead of next Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. ET matchup with Louisville in Death Valley.

The following is an abbreviated transcript of Sunday evening’s teleconference.

OPENING STATEMENTS: “First of all, injuries in the game … we had one in Beaux Collins. He will definitely be out this week. We will get a better evaluation on him in the first part of the week. We still don’t have total clarification on Xavier Thomas yet. They’re (physicians) still consulting on the longterm plan for him and what they’re going to do in the short-term.

Dabo Swinney's team opened as an 8-point favorite over Louisville earlier Sunday.

Dabo Swinney’s team opened as an 8-point favorite over Louisville earlier Sunday. (Getty)

“Like I said last night, I’m really disappointed with the way we played. We needed to win the turnover margin and stop the run. It’s just that simple. They only had nine completions but they were the more physical team. The critical play was the blocked punt. We lost the momentum. It was a really bad night.

“The good news is we are a better team than I saw last night. Tough day when you know you’re better than you perform. We’re 8-1, not 5-3. We own it, we learn from it and we just get back to work. That’s what we have to do. We can’t do anything about what happened yesterday. We’ll get the team back in here tomorrow and see if we can grow from this. It’s a chance to reset. A lot of ball left and a lot of opportunity left. The only thing off the table for us is that we know we’re not going to be undefeated.

“We have a great opportunity this week to go win the division title outright. We want to have the best finish we can possibly have. I’m excited about a new opportunity this week. We failed in our objective yesterday but we want to recommit to the standard that we talk about.”

Q: Looking at the first half, that final score that they got, how critical was that?

SWINNEY: “It was. They only completed one pass but it was a long drive. They just physically took it to us. You’re one score and back in the game, but we just never responded in any facet. We didn’t get the burst or spark that we needed. Just not much positive in the game. We had a few guys individually who played well but outside of that not much good. We got beat by a better team last night.”

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Q: You have to go back a long way to look at the last time you were physically overwhelmed. Given the rarity of that, how confident are you that it’s limited to that game and not something more pronounced?

SWINNEY: “Just based on what I have seen, we have played better this year. We shut out Syracuse in the second half. They’re a physical team. We’ve done it on several occasions. We have to respond. I know 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. It’s a lot of little things that we have to do better. It’s our job to make sure we do that. Perspective is huge. We’re 8-1. We have battled all year.

“Our guys were really hurting last night. They’re going to show up with a mindset tomorrow to get back at it. They’re just four undefeated teams left. Every goal we have is still out there for us. It starts with us trying to win this week. I’m confident, though, because I know who we are. That 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 every area.”

Q: With both quarterbacks taking their lumps last night, do you still have confidence in them? Is DJ still the guy?

SWINNEY: “I have confidence in both of them. D.J. certainly has to get back on track. Obviously Cade made a mistake and we probably put him in a bad spot. Just a poor decision there. We want to continue to bring him along. D.J. is still a guy we believe in. He’s 14-1 in the last 15 games as our starter. It was kind of a weird game with how things played out. He did some positives but too many missed plays. Too many things he has to clean up. We also have to get Cade opportunities and keep evaluating that.”

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Q: On some of those throws where DJ held the ball too long, were there several where he just didn’t see receivers open or was there something else?

SWINNEY: “I thought he could have gotten rid of the ball on all of them. Four sacks and three of them he held too long. He was waiting on Antonio and Antonio got caught in the treaffic, so he has to come off that quicker. They got us on one from the backside and he didn’t have a chance on that. I promise you, he’s already been here today disscecting things. No one cares more than him. Hopefully we’ll get back on track this week.”

Q: After looking at the film, what was it specifically that you saw with your defensive line last night that broke down?

SWINNEY: “They out-leveraged us a few times where we didn’t line up properly. We were beat by alignment a few times . We got beat out of our gap a few times. A combination of several things. It’ll be a tough, long, day for the Tigers tomorrow (in practice). It’s unfortunate that you have to have a game like that but hopefully it’ll make us better. Hopefully we’ll respond like champions respond. Hopefully this week will be a good start for us.”

Q: Jeff Scott was just fired at South Florida. Do you have any comment on that?

SWINNEY: “Literally like 30 seconds before I got on here, Ross Taylor told me that. I didn’t know anything about it. I will reach out to Jeff. I know he gave it everything he could down there and apparently it didn’t work out. He’s a great coach, a great person and someone I love dearly. I know he’ll grow from it.”

Q: You don’t have a staff opening now but if something were to happen later on, hypothetically, he would be welcome back, wouldn’t he?

SWINNEY: “I’m not getting into any of that stuff. I just want to beat Louisville versus thinking about all that hypothetical stuff.”

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Q: Seems like when D.J. was playing well, earlier this season his involvement in the run game was integral to that. Has he been featured less in the last few games?

SWINNEY: “He was a part of it in the Syracuse game. He had some plays in there. Definitely one of the things we could have done more. We definitely got away from the run a little bit early (last night), looking back at it. Shipley needed a few more touches. We only had 24 plays in the first half and Shipley only had seven carries and was averaging almost seven yards a carry. D.J. made a great run last night and has become a committed runner. Definitely a part of the game. It’s not something he did a great job of last night. He’s done it a lot this year, though, to help us win eight games. He has to get back on track this week.”

Q: Sticking with the offense, with some of your issues this year, Brandon Streeter said last night that he feels like he has the talent, the guys to do the job. Do you look at what you are doing schematically 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 anywhere near where we want to be. We’re not where we’re going to be. We evaluate everything every week all the time.

“I love our players. We have done a lot of good things. We’re not 4-4, we’re not 5-3 like we were this time last year. We’re 8-1. We’re going to try to get to 9-1 this week. No one is satisfied with any facet of our game right now. We’re always trying to get better and improve.”

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