Audio link and transcript are below. Dabo is at the 6:30 mark.
We're excited about this week. First of all, I'd say happy Thanksgiving to everyone. It's hard to believe the season is -- regular season is coming to an end, last week. It's a fun week. It's exciting. This is a game that we look forward to every year. It means a lot to a lot of people, and it's certainly our next goal.
But we've got a big challenge on our hands with South Carolina. They've had a great year, very well coached on both sides of the ball. They're playing really efficient and smart football, and that's why they're 8-3. Playing with great effort and aggressiveness. We'll be down there at their place, night game. A lot of emotion always tied to this game. I know it's going to be a huge battle, but we're looking forward to the opportunity.
Q. It's looking like Mayfield is probably going to win the Heisman. You had a player like that that could have won the Heisman last year in Deshaun. What does having a player like that do to your team? What do you remember about preparing to play against and then playing against Mayfield two years ago?
DABO: Any time you have a Heisman caliber player, it just -- that means he's a Heisman guy for a reason. So usually that -- for your team, that means a lot of big plays. Usually, there's a lot of wins tied to those Heisman guys, that's for sure. So it's always great when you got great players.
As far as Baker Mayfield, we don't see them -- I don't see them much, but played against him a couple years ago, and he's a tough one. He's a tough one to get ready for because he is all over the place, and he's got a strong arm. He's a tough, physical runner. He's a great competitor. He's kind of at his best when it's chaotic. You think you've got him, and he'll scramble around and throw a touchdown pass, and he's got wheels to run away from you. He's a really difficult player to prepare for. That's why he's had so much success.
Q. Coach, I know folks in your position only worry about things that you can control, but were you disappointed at all, with the ACC Championship Game matchup already set, and with Miami already playing a day earlier than Clemson this weekend, that you were given a Saturday night game while Mamie got a Friday noon game and it's almost like a day and a half preparation time difference for the two of you as you go to the championship game?
DABO: Well, you said it. You can't spend time worrying about things you can't control. We had the same situation for the National Championship last year. We played all the way out in Arizona. Alabama played in Atlanta. They were home pretty quickly, had that whole Sunday to prepare, or whatever day it was, and we played and traveled back the next day from all the way out in Arizona. We didn't get home. Our day was -- we lost a day just because of the travel and how far we had to go. Then we were, whatever, two or three hours ahead when you come back this way.
You can't sit around and worry about that stuff. You just take what you got. It's no difference than you have an open date, so we have an open date before we play an opponent, and that opponent is playing on that weekend. That's just kind of the way it is. Same thing in the NFL. Sometimes teams have open dates before you, and you can't sit around and worry about all that stuff. You've just got to do the best you can and get a good plan.
I mean, shoot, we're excited about this weekend and night game and all that stuff. It is what it is. So we don't spend two seconds worrying about that kind of stuff.
Q. Good morning. You know what a team needs to have attitude-wise this time of year as you're getting to the important games, most important games of your schedule. How do you feel your team's mood is, your team's determination is at this point in the season?
DABO: Very focused, locked in, excited, you know, just understand exactly where we are and embracing the moment.
Q. What have you told them about focusing on the game at hand on Saturday? Because, obviously, there's such a huge game on the horizon there with Miami.
DABO: Oh, shoot, we ain't talked one second about that game next week. It's all about this week. We're playing playoff football for us. I mean, they give a trophy out after this game. They give a trophy out after -- every game we play from this point forward there's a trophy on the line. So we're dialed in and focused on just this week. That's all we're trying to do is be great this week.
Q. Good morning, Coach. To look at this team, obviously, to be competitive every single year, especially at the level that you're at, you learn something as a coach each year, learn from the team as they learn from you. What do you take away from the squad this year that's made you a better coach?
DABO: What's made me a better coach? Just, you know, really just this is a very young team, very, very young team. We only have six scholarship seniors, and really just not taking for granted how hard it is to do what this team has done but just -- really just reinforcing how critical it is to make sure that you don't overlook any little things when you're dealing with a bunch of young players. I mean, everything is a big deal to these guys.
When you've lost a lot of veterans, you can kind of be in an advanced mode as a coach, and it's just important that understand that you have to start over with these guys, and you've got to meet them where you are. You can't expect them to be where you are. So that's probably the main thing.
Q. And when you're learning through this young team -- and, obviously, like you said, they're experiencing these things for the first time -- where's some of the leadership that's come from this team for you as you've gone through the year?
DABO: You broke up on that last part. Did you say something about leadership on our team?
Q. Yeah, leadership from some of the young guys on the team.
DABO: Yeah, we work hard at developing leadership, and our seniors have done a good job. We don't have many. We do have a really strong junior class, but we talk to them all the time. You don't have to wait to be a senior to be a great leader. I've seen that from a lot of these guys.
We've got a bunch of sophomores that I think have stepped up for us and provided excellent leadership really at every position, and guys have bought in. But I think that speaks to, again, that junior and senior group that really know who we are and what we do and how we do it and reinforcing things when you're not looking, whether it's on the practice field, it's in the locker room, whatever it may be.
I think our guys have done a good job in making sure that we really develop these young guys.