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Tuesday Press Conference: Avoiding Complacency

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 1: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson University Tigers celebrates against the Virginia Tech University Hokies on October 1, 2011 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 1: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson University Tigers celebrates against the Virginia Tech University Hokies on October 1, 2011 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
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Week 6.  These next few days leading up to the Boston College game this weekend are all about focus.  If Chad Morris and Kevin Steele earned their respective paychecks during weeks two through five, Dabo Swinney must earn his starting this week.  It's going to be his job to keep this team from getting complacent and he must drill into them that if you want to get to Charlotte, you must hold serve this weekend.  All week this team is going to hear how they are becoming the darlings of college football and how they are potentially darkhorse national title contenders.  It's Dabo's job to keep the focus on Boston College so this team can avoid what plagued this Clemson program for far too long, the slip up game.  

People want to compare you to the past.  A lot of people want to lump what's going on at Clemson now with what happened 30 years ago. Why does it have to be like that? Why can't we change? First of all you believe you can change it. If you don't believe, you've got no chance. I really think Clemson can be special. I think it can be one of the elite programs in college football. My goal is to make it a model program in college football. We've got to go have consistency in the program.

Consistency is right, and that starts with winning games at home.   Winning this division, and this conference for that matter, is about being able to go on the road and pick up wins against tough teams, but it's also about ensuring that your home stadium is a place where winning ballgames is the only acceptable outcome.  It's how Virginia Tech has won four ACC titles during its short tenure in this conference.  

On to Boston College themselves.  Everyone knows what you're going to get when you play the Eagles.  They are a tough, hard-nosed football team, that doesn't usually beat themselves, and is a program that prides itself on winning games in the trenches.  They play a similar brand of football as Virginia Tech, perhaps though without the same athletes as the Hokies.  This year, Boston College has struggled, both at home and on the road.  They have been without the services of stud running back Montel Harris for much of the season, and he looks to be a bigger factor this weekend in the Eagles offensive attack.  

Boston College is typical BC. They're tough, physical and they've been a tough team for us every single year. They're a team that beat us last year. I know they're not having a great season right now but they were 2-5 last year when they beat us. They went on to have a good season. We know that we're in for a tough game this week against these guys. They'll come in confident playing us. It's Homecoming and that's a special time here at Clemson. I want to make it a special week from that standpoint.

I'm glad Dabo brought this us.  If Clemson wants to continue this "Shock the World" tour they are currently on, Swinney needs to hammer home that teams like Boston College must be beaten.  This week he should and likely will preach to his team that this BC team shut down the Clemson attack last year in Chestnut Hill, and that this team must focus on playing sound football and continuing to build on what we have accomplished in weeks one through five. In terms of their offense, this is what they bring to the table this weekend.  

Looking at their offense, they're 11-12-type personnel team. They try to get you to line up wrong with a lot of shifts and motions. Montel Harris is an outstanding back who had 140-something yards on us last year. He had a lot of yards after contact. They want to run the football. That hasn't changed. Montel is a guy who is still getting back going. I know he'll be excited to play us. We'll have to stop the run, just like last week. We have to win first down and get them in third and long type situations.

Just like we have been preaching in the first few weeks of the season, this week is no different, the Clemson defense is going to have to wrap up and make tackles.  Boston College doesn't have the athletes or personnel this year to out talent us, and are therefore is going to rely on playing sound fundamental football.  If we do the same we win this game. 

Boston College ranks 99th in the country in scoring offense and 98th in total offense.  We expect Kevin Steele's defense to dominate this weekend at home in front of a homecoming crowd.  We'll look for more three and outs from our defense in the hopes of getting the ball back to the Chad Morris offense and letting them do the rest.  Boston College cannot win a shootout, they don't have the offense to be able to do that.  Therefore, it is critical that our defense come up with big stops early in order to allow the Clemson attack to do what they've done all season, score lots of points.  

We continue to open it up and tweak each week. We've done a lot of the same things. We've got a big library of calls. Some things we haven't gotten to simply because of who we're playing. We're right on track. We did not play great offensively last week. Tajh was a little off, but it was a tough defense and a tough environment. We just weren't quite as crisp. Our tempo wasn't as good, but we made enough plays.

Virginia Tech was likely the best defense we will face all season.  While this Boston College program has traditionally thrived on its strong defensive performances, Clemson should not have the same struggles it had last week against the Hokies.  At home, in warm weather, against a team that doesn't have nearly the athletes as Virginia Tech does, and we expect this Clemson offense to put up points.  

This game doesn't have the blockbuster feel that the past three weeks has provided the college football nation with.  But that doesn't mean it's not important.   Historically, these were the types of games that Clemson football has lost on the path to 8-4, 7-5, and even 6-7 seasons.  That simply can't happen if we are going to win 10 games and play for conference titles.  Take care of business in Death Valley this weekend like you should and move on the next one.