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Post-Miami Coaches Interviews and Press Conference

Dabo Swinney Press Conference

Not terribly much to say about this press conference, it was mostly about kudos to C.J. Spiller and his Heisman campaign and other fluff.

On Miami and our mistakes:

You mentioned the "issues." What are they?
Swinney: Turnovers. We got to eliminate turnovers. You don't beat many good teams when you have four scoring opportunities and don't score. We get down there and we don't score a field goal. We had another one where we had good field position and then we had penalty, penalty, penalty and then we had third-and-40. We had the fumble other way for six. To get zero points on those four opportunties- we have to eliminate those critical errors. Defensively - we had a lot of missed alignments - they were trying to hide their right tackle a little bit and did some unbalanced stuff which created some gap control issues. And then big plays. 282 yards on 10 plays. In the other 51 they had the other 100-something yards. You don't win many games that way. It was a 15-16 round slugfest. That's what we have to focus on.

As to what Miami was doing and the adjustments the defense had to make and improvements, Steele said this:

"That's always the case. I've never seen a perfect game played. What happens is a lot of times mistakes, corrections, things to improve on get swept away (publicly) by a victory and accentuated after a loss. That's why we keep the same routine everyday, all year long. Every Monday is just like the Monday before, regardless of the outcome of a game. That's the emphasis. That's how you improve. You dissect every game, play by play, technique by technique.....

....Then there were plays in that game where there was a technique breakdown or a communication breakdown. You have to give them credit. They did some things new that gave us some communication problems, not that we didn't know what we were doing. They executed against it and we never got it totally worked out, but we got it down the best we could on the sidelines with the chalkboard."

....there was a new wrinkle that created some communication problems and then changed some things that we had worked on, because once you get some communication issues on something new they're doing, then it spills over to some things we had already prepared for.

"For example, if you take 22 personnel, two tight ends and two backs and you adjust that out all week long and then all of a sudden they put 22 personnel out there, two tight ends, two backs, then take one TE out of the game, and put another tackle in the game, so you've got three tackles… so now you've got a defender lining up and he thinks he's lining up on a tackle, but he's not. That's a tight end. So when they put the tight end back in the game, the guy is looking for that third tackle and he's not there."

Which confuses an End or LB or S, because they all are aligning based upon how the offensive personnel line up.

On the offenses performance at Land Shark:

What does it mean to have your tight ends stepping up as much as they have the last three weeks?
Swinney: It's what we expected coming into the season. That's why you play to our strength because we felt like that position was a real strength for us. Michael has caught more balls than any other tight end since the 1980's. They are a big part of what we do. No doubt about it. We've got some really talented wide outs, but they are inexperienced and we are still trying to groom those guys. So it's been good to see the development of Michael. He's not the most talented- but has great experience and understands how to play. He's Tyler Grisham. And then a young guy like Dwayne Allen and Chad Diehl - we love having them on the field.

.... It's all about coaching those attention to details. We had the fewest missed assignments that we have had in a long time. Especially on offense. Pleased with that.

Billy Napier:

Is the offensive improvement simply explained by getting the tight ends more involved?

"Personally, when you're sitting here trying to put together a plan, you're looking at who you really feel like can be productive for you. What's the best way to produce first downs and score points? We kind of narrowed down our focus in terms of who was playing and who we felt could be those guys and structured the plan around those guys.

"The other thing is just a message of execution, details, preparation and getting the most out of every day during the week. Understanding that the reason you screwed up on a Saturday is you weren't focused on a Monday. Or you went out there on a Wednesday and had a very average day and the same mistakes showed up Saturday.

What have Palmer and Allen done to become a more integral part of the offense? 

"They practice hard. They show up and put in the time. I really think that they've shown up with a little bit different demeanor and attitude than maybe they have in the past.

"Now Michael Palmer, he's a guy who's been pretty consistent in his approach. He's an example guy. He's a guy you can point out and say he plays well because he studies the game and he's a student of the game. He understands the big picture.

"That's one of the things we told Dwayne when we recruited him is, hey, you're going to have a year where you're going to get to observe a guy who's extremely smart and who's going to help you learn the offense, who's going to help you grow up as a person, who's going to be a really good example for what it takes to be a good player. This is his chance. He's really observed Mike and he's figuring out what it takes to be a good player. It's not all about ability. It's the guy that plays the best on Saturday. That's all coming together for him. He's growing up."

Do you feel you've made strides in short yardage?

"Yeah, we did. We executed those plays fairly well. We were fortunate that we didn't get caught in a false start on the fourth-and-1, but we executed those plays really well. We ran behind our best people, our best lead blocker. Jamie Harper really ran the ball with the mentality that he knew the down and distance and he was going to get the first down.

"We've changed some things from a practice structure that I think have reflected on the game. We're doing short yardage and goal-line on Tuesday now in full gear, and I think that's helped us not only practice it in a more realistic environment, but I also feel like it's helped our kids when we've got to the game. So it's about preparation. It's about learning your lesson, to some degree. Looking at it from the outside in: 'Hey, how can we get better at this? What do we need to do?'"

How do you feel the blocking by the receivers has come along on the perimeter?

"We felt that maybe that was a way we could create big plays. We felt it was an area where we could get over the hump and create more explosive plays... our effort on the second level. We took a good look at that and put a huge emphasis on that in the open date. There's no question that it showed up on a couple of C.J.'s big runs. Xavier Dye, Terrance Ashe, Jacoby Ford, those guys in particular have made some critical blocks to pop some of those long runs that you've seen the last couple of weeks."

On the situation at the end of regulation

Can you recall what it was like on the headsets when Dabo was trying to get Kyle Parker to spike the ball to set up a final play in regulation? 

"We lost about eight or nine seconds there. We ran the ball, trying to catch them in split-safety defense. It worked and it hit for about nine yards. There was come uncertainty about whether we got a first down or not. We were going to (spike) the ball, and we just didn't have any sense of urgency from our players.

"Kyle, in particular, never even looked to the sideline after he handed the ball off. We're up there about to rip our headsets off. So we had to waste our timeout. And then we had to go ahead and kick it, because it wasn't worth taking a chance of getting caught in bounds or maybe not getting a first down.

"If you (spike) the ball, you probably have about 18 seconds left. You can run one more play and then you kick the ball. Or maybe it's even move the ball to the middle of the field and call your timeout with four seconds left, and kick it so you don't have to kick off.

"We had a plan. It's just the players - our quarterback in particular, he was just watching the play. Coach Swinney is like right there, and he's just standing there looking. (Swinney) is over there yelling, going crazy.

Actually I think it was 12 seconds.

Would you have taken a shot to the end zone?

"I don't know. We had a play in mind that we were going to try. But personally, after throwing an interception down there, I would've probably just moved it to the middle and kicked a field goal and gone and played overtime.

On the road, usually you'll play for the tie and let it go to OT, but given that Miami had been able to run the ball all over us (and nearly ran one in during OT), I bet Swinney would've gone for the 6 at least once.

On simplification of the playbook:

Have you simplified your playbook in the last couple of weeks?

NAPIER: "Matter of fact, I think we've carried more offense. That's one of the things I feel may have helped us, because we've been capable of keeping teams off balance by having enough ideas and new things. And we've thrown the ball a little bit more. Our quarterback is kind of living and learning and he's finally getting to where we trust him enough to make some decisions that factor into the game. We've thrown the ball more, and that's where you've seen the tight end and running back touches increase.

"We still have lots of room for improvement. We made enough mistakes that we could've very well lost that game and been analyzing the same mistakes that we made in the previous games when we lost.

"We're lucky we won the game, and it's a huge morale boost. Our kids are looking at us a little bit differently than maybe they were two weeks ago."

Danny Pearman on the RT situation

"Landon started a little shaky as far as the second series where we got behind with penalties. We got behind with the grounding, a chop block… it was a sloppy series. Landon got a hold on that. But other than that, I thought he came back and played pretty consistent for us."

Is there a position battle brewing there, or do you like the chemistry the way things are now?

Pearman. "Both of them are playing pretty good. I wish I could get that on the left side. A guy that stays out there the entire game doesn't have as much in the fourth quarter or in an overtime. I may look at playing someone on the left side to rest Hairston. I may look at David some this week doing that. Hairston played 74 snaps Saturday. That's a lot of snaps for a guy. That's one of the things I'm trying to do this week… get some (left tackle) work on David. I may look at some of that this week. Obviously he's our second or third best tackle." 

What is it that Landon does better than David right now, or I should say what separates the two right now?

Pearman. "I'm not sure there's anything. I'm not sure he does that much better at anything or the other one, vice versa. It's a good one-two punch. They practice hard. They have been practicing better. David deserves to play. So long as he keeps playing like this, he'll play more. Last week he was lineman of the week."

At LT:

....The thing we have to do is develop someone over there on the left side. You know, Cory has played some for us over there, but you get in some of these games where as coaches you go with your gut feeling."

Which basically tells you that Pearman realizes that Lambert sucks. If David Smith is the 3rd best tackle after being moved there a couple weeks ago.....damn. David Smith totaled 14 snaps in our first 4 games. In his last three, the guy has been in on 79 plays.

Scott. "David has been.... I don't want to say a surprise - but the maturing process is starting to happen. He's seeing the game better. He's getting more of a push out there on the edge and has gotten more comfortable with his pass sets. That has really helped us because I don't think Landon is at his best when he's playing 75 plays. Now they're splitting and playing 35-40 each.

"And we're free-wheeling in there with David and Cloy. I think we also have a plan to get David some work in practice on the left side. He's become our most dependable third left tackle. Cloy can play three positions, so that's a bonus for me."

David has come a long way, from reserve guard to splitting time with your starting right tackle. Talk about his progression over the last couple of months. 

"I think it was easier for us to probably fit him in out there at tackle after we had the injury to Hairston. We recruited him as a tackle and he had played some tackle for us. We had gotten short-handed at guard and he had some quickness about him. Right now, he'd do just as good a job if we played him at guard. That's a developmental position. He's more comfortable playing the game of football. He gives us the athletic ability on the edge.

"The other night he got beat up and under one time but had the athletic ability to come back on the other guy to get a push. The QB stepped around him and made one of those throws up the middle. I like the way he gets a little push on his drive blocks, too.

"David lacks some experience, but he definitely gives you an athletic tackle. We've still got a little ways to go and some things to work on.

Freewheeling=brad's code word for his usual musical chairs. If anything Cloy should start ahead of McClain.

Did you use Cloy at center Saturday?

"I didn't.... Last week Cloy played probably half the time at center. I plan to use him at center this week and against Florida State and N.C. State and so on, because he does give us production there. But we were doing a pretty good job. I thought it was critical for him to play some at right guard. Freeman, again, was doing a good job. Mason's pass protection and understanding of everything we did, he was very dependable. Mason played the second quarter. Big Mac (McClain) played and we alternated throughout the game. Both split time. I felt McClain's game was stronger towards the end than it has ever been. The plan now is to get Mason more work on the left side as well. I know he can handle center."

 The biggest improvement I saw was that Freeman was much more comfortable making all the points. He looked like he understood and knew what was happening in there. That was a big help to us. They're gaining some confidence.

On Coastal Carolina

Swinney: Coach Bennett is a friend and has done a great job. He was a graduate assistant under Coach Ford here. I've watched him build that program - they won their conference three years in a row - '04, '05 and '06.

Offensively when you look at them, it's kind of a combination of West Virginia and Florida. They have a veteran offensive line. They do have big play capability. I would call them a little unpredictable. They have a shifty running back.

Defensively, they are multiple and have a lot of pressures. We'll have to be well-prepared and hopefully we will play our best game of the week on Saturday.

Steele: "They're very multiple. They're very personnel oriented. They're going to play four wide receivers, three wide receivers, two wide receivers from different looks. They're very formation-oriented… a lot of different formations. They're talented at receiver. They have two quarterbacks that play and both make plays. The running backs and the fullback, No. 39, he's all over the place. You can tell he knows what he's doing. They're well-coached."

 Is there any part of you that thinks this game Saturday is a dangerous game for this team?

Steele: "Like I said… I've said it before and I know people get tired of hearing it, but it's just jersey numbers and bodies in positions. Are they eligible? Are they not eligible? Where do they line up? What are they running? I've been doing it long enough that I do not factor in at all where we play and who we play, what their logo is… it just doesn't matter. As a coach, you can't tell the players that every game is the same, then your routine is different or you're not as detailed or not as excited. So we do everything the same, the same time, the same way. It doesn't change. Because that's what we expect them to do. We expect them to play every play that way and it not change."

I havent seen much about CCU's defensive philosophy other than using a few fronts and pressures. I think it is a 40 front most of the time.