Transcript: Dabo Swinney ACC Teleconference previewing Louisville

Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE
Photo: Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

DABO SWINNEY: We’re looking forward to traveling up to Louisville here in just a little while today, and excited about having the opportunity to play on Thursday night. Louisville has got an excellent football team loaded with good personnel, and for us, this is our first road trip with a bunch of young guys, so anxious to see how they play and how they respond to that challenge. As far as our health of our team, I think we’re in pretty good shape. We did lose Ryan Norton for this game, but hopefully Jay Guillermo will step in and do a great job for us. But we’ve got a lot of respect for Louisville. This is a game last year that went down to literally the last play, and don’t expect it to be any different this week. They present a lot of challenges on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game, and obviously they’re well-coached, and then this is the first ACC game division game for us. Both of us have the same goals and that’s to win this division so we have a chance to compete for this conference. So big game tomorrow night, and looking forward to seeing our team compete and play.

Q. The relationship between quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Charone Peake, just obviously what you can say last game, they showed that, but what you’ve seen from them as they’ve grown together on the team?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, they’re just getting better and better every day, and the more they play and practice together, the better they’re going to be. They were a little off on a couple of plays early in the game last week but really kind of settled in and really had a nice day. Charone was player of the game for us, had a couple big touchdowns, and that’s critical. I mean, we really need those two guys to have big years for us, there’s no question, especially with Mike Williams gone. We were counting on Charone to have a great year regardless, but now with Mike out, he’s just got to really step up and be that guy over there at the boundary position that can make those one-on-one plays. So good start last week, and they really haven’t played a whole lot together. They just really played a couple of quarters the first two weeks. So I think as we go through the course of the season, I think that chemistry is just going to continue to improve.

Q. And when you look at that chemistry improving, like you said, they’ve only played a couple of quarters together, what do you think has made them be so efficient so quickly, not having as much time together?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, off-season. That’s just off-season work. We have skills and drills three days a week all through the summer, and those guys out there throwing and catching. That’s just where that comes from.

Q. It’s the first time in a few years you guys haven’t had a non-conference game against a Power Five opponent before you enter ACC play. I’m just wondering what you feel might be more advantageous, having been tested before ACC or what you’ve gone through this season?

DABO SWINNEY: You know, I don’t think it really — I think year to year your roster is different and things like that. We just play the schedule they give us. I don’t really put a whole lot of thought into that. I think the last three years we’ve opened up with a really difficult challenge and went 2-1 in those games, and those are difficult games, just like look at Louisville this year. People look at they’re 0-2, but this is a good football team that’s going to have an excellent year, regardless of what happens tomorrow night. There’s no doubt. Those games are hard to play. They’re good when they win, but they’re really difficult. But I think win or lose, you grow your team either way in those type of games. But it’s the same thing for us. We didn’t open up with a Georgia this year, but I think we’ve grown our team. It’s nice to be 2-0 and to be able to play a lot of guys, but we didn’t go into it planning it that way. We went in just like we were playing Georgia, same mentality, all in. Everybody is trying to — we’ve got a great game plan, and you need to just respond to the game. So it’s worked out well where I think we’ve been able to develop some guys and hopefully that’s going to pay off for us because one of the bigger concerns for us this year is just developing our depth. We’ve got a bunch of young guys that got to learn how to play.

Q. I was curious, what are your thoughts on how the guys that you’ve lost on defense from last season, how the new guys have stepped in and given that you had the No. 1 defense in the country last year, how do you think that the composition of the defense this year is doing through two games and then going into this week?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, well, our first group has been dominant. I mean, they’ve really played as I expected them to play, with very little drop-off from what we had last year. They’ve really played well. But we are a very different makeup on that side of the ball from where we were last year. I mean, we had, whatever, 10 guys go to the NFL from that defense, get shots at the NFL, six D-linemen. We lost a lot of good players, and these guys that are starting were here last year, too, so we had a lot of great experienced, talented depth. And this year we have the talent and the depth, we just are so inexperienced with our backups. We’re very fortunate that we’ve got the front-line guys that we have, and hopefully we can stay healthy over there and allow us to have some time to just continue to get some of these guys some experience. And I think after the first two games, that’s been one of the big, big positives for us is a lot of the D-linemen that we’ve played, a lot of the guys in the secondary, a couple of the young linebackers, they’ve all been able to get their feet wet a little bit, and that’s certainly going to accelerate their development.

Q. Are there any of those young guys that you’ve been especially impressed with?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, oh, yeah. I think our backup ends, Austin Bryant and (Richard) Yeargin and Dane Rogers were three guys that we needed to get some work these first couple days and are encouraged. They’ve just got to grow up and learn how to play. Same thing with Jalen Williams and Kendall Joseph, our two backup backers. There’s a big drop off between B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware and those two guys, and there should be. These guys are — one is a redshirt freshman, one is a true freshman, and B.J. is a fifth-year senior and Ben is a third-year junior. There was drop off when Ben Boulware got here, too, when Spencer Shuey was in front of him. It’s just the way it is. Guys have to learn how to play. But several of those guys have been — Christian Wilkins is another guy inside that has really stepped up. Jabril Robinson. We’ve got several guys that are I think developing nicely for us.

Q. One other thing, and I was curious, what did you see out of the way Houston kind of spread things out from an offensive standpoint and was able to create some running lanes for their quarterback? Anything else that you feel may be a good approach with Deshaun and your team?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, Houston had a good plan, well-coached. They did a good job with some of their formationing, and then they played with good tempo. The story of that game was Louisville turned it over four times and gave up a 100-yard kick return, and they only lost by three points. I think from my perspective it was pretty clear who had the better team, but the best team doesn’t always win. You’ve got to play well. You’ve got to do the things that allow you to win. They just had a lot of mistakes and ended up costing them the ballgame. But give Houston credit because they made some key plays throughout the game that kept them in it, and the kick return was — there was nothing bigger than that.

Q. As you get to this more challenging part of your schedule, any area of your team that you’re kind of curious about, how you’ll measure up to the better competition that lies ahead?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, I think we just want to continue to develop our guys. Again, our offensive line is a group that we’re really excited about, but you know, we think we’ve got more depth there than we’ve had in a long time, but we do have a lot of young guys. We’ve got a true freshman at left tackle, got a sophomore at right guard, so I’m anxious to see those guys continue to get better as they get more and more challenged going through this season.

Q. Is anything new on DJ Reader at this point?


Q. With the way that pace is going in college football and the way scoring is going in college football, can you foresee any set of circumstances that would allow a team to score 100 points in a game?

DABO SWINNEY: Could I see a circumstance —

Q. Yeah, I guess a better way to ask the question is do you think it’ll happen?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, I mean, if you get a match-up where a team is good enough and the other team is bad enough and the coach on the other sideline really hell-bent on doing that, yeah, certainly it could happen. We’ve had a couple games we probably could have scored 100, but I have no interest in that. I really don’t. I think that you get, like I said, a talented enough team that is matched up with a team that is just far inferior, and yeah, it’s possible, but I hope we don’t see that. That would not be good.

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