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Georgia Football

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney Praises JT Daniels - "Very Impressed with Their Quarterback"

September 1, 2021

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CLEMSON, SC - Clemson coach Dabo Swinney met with the media before the No. 3 Tigers’ game with No. 5 Georgia to open the season. 

Given the proximity and history of the programs, you would like to see Georgia and Clemson play more often, correct?

DABO: "Yes. No question. We have gone all the way out to A&M, we have gone to Auburn and have done some kickoff classics. The fans love it. Any time you play a quality opponent like we have over the years, sure. But Clemson-Georgia is a tradition, and there is a history there. There have been a lot of unbelievable moments in this rivalry over the years. When I got this job in 2008, people were talking about playing Georgia in 2013. I remember that vividly. I am like I don't even know if I'm going to be the head coach in 2013 or be alive in 2013. So yes, it means a lot. Rivalries make college football fun."


"When you look at Georgia, they are built in the trenches on both sides," Swinney said. "Massive... massive on both sides. They are built to stop the run; they've led the country two years in a row in rush defense and yards per carry. Nobody has really run the ball on them. Very aggressive in how they stop the run. They are built up the middle. I mean, No. 99 (Jordan Davis) and No. 95 (Devonte Wyatt) are pros. They are as good as you'll find: big, strong, pocket-movers. They just don't get moved at the point of attack very often. Their linebackers are outstanding players. Very experienced. Those safeties are great players and very involved in the run game and are physical. This is a team built right up the middle. Schematically, they do a great job. They don't give you anything. You have to make plays. Very aggressive in how they schematically do things."

QUESTION: Status on Fred Davis?

DABO: "Everybody is available. We are still living in a COVID world. We'll handle that the same as last year. Regardless of the situation, we will say who is available and not available ahead of the games. But yes, everyone is available at this point."

QUESTION: Do you have more of a comfort level proceeding forward in the COVID world?

DABO: "Yes. We have a vaccine now. Our staff is vaccinated now. We have very few players on the team who have not been vaccinated. It's not that you can't get it, but it's like it's freezing out there yet you are doing everything you can getting the right clothes on to protect yourself. Yes, you can still get a cold, but it's better when you're equipped for it. I'm thankful for the vaccine. It works. I am thankful that we have that as an option."

QUESTION: Three weeks into camp, talk about tackling. Your evaluation?

DABO: "I thought we tackled really well in camp. I thought we played the ball very well ... positioning. That was very encouraging coming out of camp. But it's a whole different deal when you're in a game. There's just more familiarity when you're going against your own people. And there's no scoreboard. It'll be key for both teams."


DABO: "Very impressed with their quarterback (JT Daniels). He some great experience and confidence last year with how the season ended for them. Made some big plays in critical moments. You look at the Mississippi State game late in the season and they had some tight plays right here, and he made three or four throws to get that go-ahead score. They dropped a couple of them but he kept battling and putting them on the money. Really impressed with his moxie, you can tell he's a good leader. Great arm talent. 

“They are going to get off the bus running it and play-action shots down the field. There's not a lot of dinking and dunking going on. They do have a great screen game they want to manipulate you with, but they want to run the ball and get the ball over the top of you.” 

"Man, their receivers, they have some guys that can run. No. 7 (Jermaine Burton) is a special player. No. 10 (Kearis Jackson) is a great player. No. 3 (Zamir White) and No. 4 (James Cook) in the backfield are downhill runners, they can slip through cracks, they don't need much space and next thing you know they're in the second level breaking tackles.”

"They have recruited very well. A lot of those guys we recognize from recruiting."

QUESTION: What has Marcus Tate shown you to get up to second-team left tackle so quickly?

DABO: "He has been amazing. And he missed about a week of camp. He got behind because he had an injury he had to battle from. He is a special young talent. We hadn't seen him (live) in a year and a half+. He shows up at 338 pounds and lean. And he's one of the strongest kids in the weight room. He is so powerful. Physically you're like wow. Man, he has picked it up well. He's got a natural grasp of football. He played a lot of defensive line in high school. He has a bright future. And he can play tackle. He is a legit two-position guy. I wouldn't say he's fully functional, but he's headed that way."

QUESTION: You have gone from having the guy to a committee approach at running back. How much of an adjustment will that be?

DABO: "It may be more like 2018 where we played a lot of guys in the backfield. Travis Etienne really grew from a passing game standpoint. He was able to show his diversity. And he didn't show up that way. We are further ahead at the position and the guys there and what they can do. They all fit what we need and they all catch the ball well. If someone becomes a guy, you'll see it. There's no rule that says one guy has to be the guy. We've got a lot of guys. We've got good players and we've got good young players and they're just going to get better. I don't see a situation where we have just one guy getting 25 or 30 carries. They all deserve to play."

QUESTION: Did anyone separate behind Justyn Ross in camp?

DABO: "Justyn is kind of in a league of his own. He came in here elite and mentally he is in a great place. He's in a great place technically, fundamentally. This is as talented a group as we have had, as I have said. I told Tyler Grisham on picture day he needed to take a photo of them and pull it out six years from now. E.J. is so much better. Ajou, his transformation has been incredible. Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata are elite guys. They've just got to be available. They're high, high level guys. Ngata ... he is as talented a big guy as we have had. It just hasn't happened consistently for him on game days. I am excited about what I have seen. He had a great spring and had a good last ten days of camp."

QUESTION: In what areas have you seen the offensive line grow this off-season?

DABO: "More depth, more functional guys. Last year we would have had five guys going into this game. We have more guys we can put in there in a game like this, guys who can function and get the job done for us. We have to go play, go get better regardless of what happens in this game. Both teams are going to get better from this game. Someone will win, someone will lose but both teams will improve. It's rare that you get a challenge like this right out of the gate. This is a big boy football game right out of the gate. I am proud of what they have done in camp. I like what we can turn out to be there."

QUESTION: Do you want the situation at center clarified sooner? Will you work multiple guys there right out of the gate?

DABO: "We will probably have to play multiple centers during the game. We kind of know what we want to do but we'll roll someone out there and get it started, and then go from there."

QUESTION: Do you talk to your team about expectations?

DABO: "We don't talk about going to the playoffs or the national championship. We never have. We talk about philosophy, core values, the type of commitment that it takes to be the best possible version of this team. Those other things can happen. Our focus is on showing up every week, great preparation and put everything we can into the game we are playing."

QUESTION: Any thoughts on seeing Will Muschamp again?

DABO: "Happy for him and glad he was able to land at a great place like Georgia. He has a great relationship with Kirby. That's a great opportunity for him. Will is a heck of a coach. It's a great opportunity for both of them."

QUESTION: Is there one particular matchup for you that you think might decide the game more than another?

DABO: "Ultimately it will come down to who will win the line of scrimmage. In a game like this, you have to find a way to come out on top in the trenches. You won't win every battle. Who can consistently win that matchup? Because that will dictate everything else. You can play well up front but have stupid penalties, turnovers and dropped balls. So it's not just that one factor, but it's critical in a game like this."

QUESTION: How much work did Andrew Mukuba get at corner in the spring?

DABO: "A lot. He was in one-on-ones everyday. He has obviously received a ton of work at safety. He's quick, twitchy and tough. His mentality, his mindset is just different ... way beyond his years. He has a bright future and will be able to do a lot of things as he goes through his career here. He gets it. He's a gym rat."

QUESTION: You play South Carolina every year, Georgia is on the schedule in the future, too. Regarding the Alliance, do you want to play some of the teams from the PAC 12, Big Ten?

DABO: "Honestly, I have not thought much about it at all because it has nothing to do what I am doing now. We will play the schedule we get. Who knows what's coming down in college football? You probably know more about it than I do. It's probably one of the dominoes we'll see. I just want to get my team ready. I spend zero time thinking about it."


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