Dabo Swinney Continues to ‘Fight for This Program’

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney addressed the media on Tuesday, touching on a number of topics ahead of this week’s matchup against Notre Dame.

Swinney opened it up by noting this was PAW Journey week and touched on how big that has been for the Tigers’ program.

“This is a big week for us,” Swinney said. “It is PAW Journey week. It is a huge part of our program. We want to produce world-class leaders. It is a lifestyle about winning. It is not about life after football because life is happening right now. We have had 131 PAW Journey ambassadors. It takes a lot of work on their part. We have had a 98% graduation rate since I have been coach. We have had 100% career placement from 2018 to 2023.”

What We Heard

  • A reporter in the room told Swinney he was dressing up as Tyler from Spartanburg for Halloween.
  • On Notre Dame: “I think this is the most complete team we have played. They are sound. Well coached on both sides. A game that we really stunk in last year. Just really played terrible. But this is a really, really good football team.”
  • On Sam Hartman: “He is a pro. He is smooth, Poised. The game is slow for him. He doesn’t get enough credit for his ability to run. I think their receivers are one of the most improved areas on their team.”
  • “I think we have a really good team too but haven’t been able to do what we need to do. We have to get the run game going. We have to make plays.”
  • “If we turn the ball over it is going to be a long day. We lead the nation in fumbles. We got to find somehow, some way to grow up.”
  • “This is a group that lines up and challenges you. It will probably come down to a couple of plays.” Got to find some way to not help these guys.”
  • On Using Phil Mafah on the goal line: “We have used Mafah all year. He fumbled on the one at Duke. We don’t prefer one over the other (Shipley). Great respect for both of those guys.
  • Swinney said Shipley is still day-to-day in concussion protocol.
  • On moving Tristan Leight to RG: “We’re just trying to get the best five guys on the field. He was a bright spot in the game. Just felt like that was the right move for us.”
  • “We think Colid Sadler and Blake Miller are two elite players.”
  • “We try to coach all these things all the time. Some time they listen more when they have some adversity. And we have not had much adversity around here. Nobody feels sorry for the Tigers. Even though you have some disappointment and failure along the way, we really have not had much failure. This is a healthy tree that has produced a bunch of great fruit but even healthy trees need pruning and that is where we are. We really have not had real true adversity since 2010. I think when you win so much you lose appreciation for winning. It is just kind of an irony of life. Sometimes you grow the most when you’re pruned. I know what we have done here and I know what we are going to do here. Just watch what this season does. I have been a part of failure but I have never failed at anything I set out to do in my life. I am not going to let one season, when I know exactly what the issues are, hamper that. I am going to fight for this program. We are having a bad year, A’int nobody happy about. Not asking nobody to be happy, but let’s not eat our own.”
  • On his response to Tyler from Spartanburg: “I had some idiot go Old Testament on me and he got an Old Testament response. That is why most coaches don’t take calls.”
  • “I have been criticized since the day I got this job. I am going to always do what I think is best for the player. What I think is best for the program. If it doesn’t work, I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. Some people say I am stubborn but I believe in my conviction.”
  • “We’re in the midst of an amazing journey in college football history and I’m not gonna let one season when I know exactly what the issues are… I’m not gonna let one season damper that.”
  • “I have great appreciation for our fans because it is amazing what we have here at Clemson. If you are a recruit out there…people ripping coaches. Name a coach that didn’t have any bad years. Don’t let the expectation become greater than the purpose of what you do. That’s why this is a great reset. What has happened in this program is historic. What is going to continue to happen if we can stay out of our own way, will continue to be. I said when I got this job you got to be all in, we got too many people only half in.”
  • “We have made it acceptable and ok to just attack people,” Swinney responded to a question about Cade Klubnik. “I think he is going to be a superstar. He isn’t yet. But he is going to be fine. Why don’t we get behind him and support him. He is our freaking quarterback. People make a living attacking people and I think that is sad. I think there is a way to criticize without demeaning. It is sad. The adults have left the building.”
  • On his program: “This is a very healthy tree that’s produced a bunch of great fruit, but even healthy trees need to be pruned… so you can produce even more fruit”
  • “It’s my job to get us back to where we were and I will.”
  • On if he needs to do some pruning himself: “I have some pruning to do. I think the struggle brings out the best in us.”
  • “He has a great feel, he sees it,” Swinney said of Klubnik. “He really sees it. He has a great feel for it. He is as smart as they come. He is our best chance to win, there is no doubt about that.”
  • On Klubnik’s growth since the INT against Notre Dame last year: “Night and day. It was a tough situation for him right there. He just way more prepared, more knowledgeable. He still has to progress, more levels to go. He has been pretty decisive and pretty much in command.”
  • On what has gone wrong this season and what the issues are: “We are last in the nation in fumbles. Number two, it is all about the fumbles. Number three, it is all about the fumbles. It is all about the ball.” Swinney also referenced the struggles in the red zone. “If we don’t lead the nation in fumbles and we are 8-0 and we are having a different conversation.”
  • On 2015 win over Notre Dame and what it meant to the program: “We were coming off four straight 10-win seasons. I think we were in a pretty good spot. That was a momentum game. That was a game that just fueled us. When you win one of those games it creates a ton of confidence and it creates momentum. We have never been able to get that momentum.”
  • “Our defense is good enough to have won it all this year. Fact. Wes (Goodwin) has done an amazing job. In totality, they were good enough this year to be a final four team and if you are one of those teams anything can happen.”
  • “We are going to learn a lot these next four weeks. I am looking forward to it. Gonna learn a lot about a lot of people.”
  • “The criticism is warranted. We are 4-4. I am going to fight like crap to get this place back to the standard.”

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