This is our first division game, which is obviously very critical for both teams. We're excited about getting back to Death Valley and playing well in front of the home folks. It's a typical BC team. Those coaches do a great job.
Defensively they are what they are. Every year they're one of the best defenses in the conference. It's very hard to consistently move the ball on them. They're consistently one of the best against the rush. They don't beat themselves. They play good fundamental defense. They have some young linebackers and they look pretty good to me. Just looking at them in the first two games, they're the No. 1 scoring defense in the conference. They've held their opponents to 19-percent on third down.
"Offensively, the first thing that jumps out at you is that they're very balanced. They've got six starters back on offense. Four of their five guys up front, which his where they've been really good, those guys are back. The biggest thing this year is that they've got two quarterbacks. They've had a guy who has been the starter. Now, they've got two guys who will play. They won't change their system for either one, although No. 7 looks like a guy they may use to run some zone-read. That's obviously something that we'll have to prepare for.
Indeed, BC has always given us fits on the defensive side of the ball because of their ability to force you to move the ball consistently and put drives together to beat them. Its a 4-3 base, and they generally go for the big heavy guys up front, and that stops alot in the running game. Its mostly a cautious Cover 3 spot-drop zone coverage, but with that as a base, you can get creative with blitzes within a 3-5-3 alignment they play in definite passing downs, but generally BC blitzes on early downs to try and make you go further on 3rd down. Its always been a fundamentally sound defense without much in the way of flash or aggressiveness, and they have always tackled well against us.
Does BC tend to do something unique with their pass rush or how they line up?
Swinney:"No. It's here they are, come get you some. They are what they are. They do what they do. They don't try to trick anybody. They line up and try to play sound, fundamental football. They blitz and will slant linemen from time to time, but they're not exotic by any means. Let's see if you can go 80 yards against us. You have to take advantage of opportunities when they do come. That's what I think we've done a good job of in the past. Most of our big plays against these guys are where we've just gotten in space and made a play. They're good tacklers."
Offensively, their OL's ability to control the LOS fairly well has always nullified any aggressiveness against them, but so far this year they have had more trouble with the pass rush than before. Its a traditional NFL offense, very multiple with a new wrinkle every week, and West Coast-based. One and two-back pro-set formations. They are pretty small backs, but elusive and make good yardage after first contact. Clemson will have to learn to make better tackles and not go for the turnover on every play. Several times against GT I saw our guys try to strip instead of bring the QB/RB down. This means that they arent the power team they were in O'Brien's days, and you can expect 5 receivers out in pass patterns that give a high percentage of completions. They arent flashy on offense either, but they play sound and dont turn the ball over or make many mistakes that kill themselves.
On last year's game, a game many of us believe Bowden would've lost:
Was that win last year up there the most important for you?
Swinney: "Could be. Had we lost it, who knows. It was a step in the right direction. You could tell that the team had changed. But I think the turning point was the Georgia Tech game. The BC game set the change in emotions mentally. Hey, let's keep doing what we believe in. I think that game kept those kids believing amid the turmoil."
What did you learn about yourself last Thursday?
Swinney: "I learned that we're doing the right things. I learned that we're on the right track. I learned that we've hired some pretty good coaches. I learned that I'm human and I screw up too. But I also learned the things that I believe in 100-percent? there's nothing less than important than a score at halftime and you fight. That's what we'll continue to do."
That seems like an answer Bowden would not have given. Would he have accepted blame for being outcoached by Johnson?
On why we saw relatively little of Ellington and Harper and Taylor running the football:
We gassed C.J. pretty good the other night. I would have liked to have played those guys more but hey, if we're going to get beat, let's get beat with our best. Andre and Jamie are great players and we are going to get them in the game.
You know Bowden wouldn't, he'd make the damned dumbest substitution you could possibly make, like running JD on a sweep at the goal line instead of CJ, or power running with CJ instead of JD....or TAKING REGGIE OUT OF THE GAME WHEN HE'S KILLING SC. CJ got his 20 carries, and thats what he should get every game, not the 5 for this guy, 15 for another, and 8 for someone else. That gets no rhythym.
On Thomas Austin and the hold:
of the things we do in our Monday meetings is go over the penalties. We went over the penalty tape and I encouraged him. He's a good player. They called a hold, so. I'm sure there was a hold in there somewhere. I encouraged him to keep playing like he's playing. It's a tough, tough situation and very unusual to have that, a game winning play, the perfect call, the right throw and catch and the same guy called for a hold with the game on the line. I wouldn't trade him for anyone. I'm proud of Thomas Austin.
Actually Doug Rhoads has suspended 4 of the referees from the game, and said the Austin call, as well as the gift call GT got on the next drive, were not holding penalties.
Lot of damn good it does us now.
Is there something in place to where the ACC can blackball an official, like Ron Cherry or anyone?
Swinney: "I love all our officials. Doug Rhoads has been very good as far as being able to communicate with. I think he has only been the main guy for a year or so. My dealings with him have been great. I think he wants to have the best officiating crew in football. I think he takes a lot of pride in his job. He knows what he's doing. When he has issues, he'll hold people accountable. I have a lot of confidence in him. Things happen in life that you don't like and it's a shame but that doesn't mean you can't learn from it and grow from it. Things are only fatal and final if you let them be. We'll overcome this game"
I wonder who asked this question? I love the shot at Ron Cherry (ACC's affirmative action policy at work). Coach is right, you cant make excuses. We had other plays that could've been made earlier and we wouldnt have been in the position to have a hold cost us a drive to tie the game (at least).
On Landon Walker
What's it going to take to really get him back to where you thought he'd be?
Swinney: "Making up his mind that he wants to be a great player. He can be a very good player. Down the stretch last year he really improved. And Cory worked his tail off to earn the opportunity. The biggest thing about Landon is that he's got to practice better. He's a fighter. He's a tough kid. He's got pride. We've met and he's going to get his opportunity to be the starter again. Hopefully he'll perform and keep the job. He got off to a good start yesterday. I like how he has responded. We'll see what happens.
For whatever reason he didn't have the same sense of urgency as the other guys. Hopefully he has matured a little bit. He has played a lot of ball and has had some success. And he did have a good off-season. Physically he's in good shape. We need someone to step up and be the guy.
Which kinda confirms what I posted here in Spring: Landon doesnt want to work for it. He got lazy and complacent and lost the job to Lambert. He says he's had problems adjusting to the quicker pace in practice now. In fairness to Lambert, his run blocking is not as terrible. He's big and strong, which will show in run plays, but still needs more push. Most of what we ran against GT were Power plays designed to go right. Pass blocking is more about getting off and quickness, and though that is why he got the RT job this Spring/Fall, he has shown NONE of that.
It should worry you that Walker was the 2nd best RT in pass blocking though. We could be in deep shit if he doesnt perform and lock down this job.