Just got off the phone with Dabo and Pat Narduzzi. Dabo was irate about an article or two that he read from the local Clemson media, harping on the idea that it was a disappointing win last night. Dabo said the fans and writers who feel that way are sad because they won by 3 touchdowns and beat their rival for the fifth straight year, going 12-0 for just the fourth time in program history. I haven't heard Dabo that upset in a while. I'll have the audio and transcripts for you in a bit!
I'll have audio for Narduzzi and transcripts for both in a bit!
So this is apparently what drew Dabo's ire, and I don't blame him. Some of the fan base has been spoiled by success, and the same goes for some of the fans in the Clemson media. Dabo practically mentioned the headline during his rant today. The Tigers scored exactly the same number of points against the Gamecocks as they did 2 years ago when they went on to win the national title. Yes, the defense played poorly by its standards, but they still beat their rival by 3 touchdowns--a team that had a top-15 Florida team on the ropes in the Swamp 2 weeks ago. If last night "felt like a loss," something is wrong with you.
DABO: Well, just really proud of our team and our staff. I mean, we really have had a historic season, not just a great season. This has been a lot of first-time-evers in this season. I'm just really proud of our team, these seniors especially.
To be 12-0 is an amazing accomplishment. For us to be the first team to win four division championships, for us coming off our fifth state championship, great accomplishments. We're excited about representing the Atlantic in the ACC with an opportunity to be the first team to win four championship games in a row.
It's been a fun year, it's been a fast year. Probably the fastest season I've been around. Seems that way anyway. But we're excited about it. Look forward to a great night in Charlotte. Charlotte always does such a great job of hosting this event. Look forward to being a part of it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Swinney.
Q. Have you had a chance to sit back and watch the South Carolina game tape, some of your quick observations both offensively and defensively from what you were able to see on film, especially the secondary and some of the issues you saw there?
DABO: Oh, yeah. We watched the game. First of all, again, to win five state championships in a row, certainly proud of our team. Not only to win the game, but to win by three touchdowns.
Man, we're always trying to improve and get better. Offensively probably our best performance of the year, and defensively our worst performance of the year. But it's a team game. There's been a lot of games where if our defense doesn't get the stops, play the way they played, maybe the offense was slow to get going, whatever, we're probably not 12-0.
Last night was a night the defense needed our offense. Again, we played our worst game defensively and still won by three touchdowns. I think that speaks to the strength of our team.
But the balance offensively was awesome. Big plays, third down, fourth down, strong in the red zone, no sacks. Just really a dominant performance. First time ever to have three 95-plus yard touchdown drives.
But defensively just a poor night, man. Really just a few guys. I thought our effort was good, but we did not play smart. Our football awareness was poor. We had several busts, misalignments, some missed tackles, poor technique. We did not do a good job ever getting up and challenging the receiver. Just a lot of things we did a poor job with. For whatever reason, it was just kind of one thing after another.
Then give them credit, man. I thought their quarterback played great. No. 1 and 13 had career nights. You know what, we got to own that. Nobody is happy about how we played defensively outside of the fact that we did have two goal line stands, a turnover, three sacks.
Just not anywhere near our standard defensively around here. We know we got to get back to work. The bad news is we played our worst team defensively, the good news is we're better than that, we all know that. Got a bunch of video to show it, basic things we didn't do right.
They had some wrinkles, too, we didn't adjust well to as coaches. But we'll learn from it. It will make it better. At the end of the day I've been a part of this thing for 16 years, I just want to win by one more point. If that ever gets to where that's not enough, then it's time for me to move on somewhere else. I ain't never going to apologize for a 21-point win over a state rival, ever.
You people who suggest that it felt like a loss, y'all need to check yourself, too. I've been here 16 years. For all those people out there that want to complain about five wins in a row, winning by three touchdowns, man, that's shameful. That's a lack of respect for our program and a lack of respect for the effort that these players and coaches put in. I hope you write that.
12-0 football team. A senior class that's won 52 games. We got people complaining. Give me a break. If 12-0 ain't good enough, it's time to seek other places. Make sure you get that.
Q. I know you're a coach that's not going to take a conference championship game for granted by any means. What is your take on do you think these games have maybe gone a little underappreciated given what's happened with the College Football Playoff era? I know it's a loaded question.
DABO: It's a playoff game. I don't think it goes underappreciated. Shoot, for us, we played in three playoffs in a row. Probably don't get in if we would have lost the game.
It is a playoff game. It's got huge implications. To play 15 games in college football is really difficult. When you get down the stretch, every game is a playoff game. When you're one of those eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 teams that really have a shot down the stretch, every game is a playoff game.
This is just another round of the playoffs. It really, truly is. But it's great to be able to settle the conference championship on the field, to battle it out.
Man, it's a great honor to represent our division, a great venue in Charlotte. We're looking forward to it. An opportunity, everybody else is done, an opportunity for us to play another game and, again, continue to just chase history with this group.
Q. Do you almost look at this as an eight-team playoff?
DABO: There is no question about it. It is a playoff. Just go lose the game, you'll find out. There's no question.
I think every game is a playoff game, to be honest with you. Those games in September matter. Those games in October matter. That's what to me is great about college football. The NFL, the NBA, they've got their system. People want to do all this and that.
If you go that route, a lot of these games become irrelevant, people start resting their players, not playing people just like you see in all the other leagues because they already know they got their spot in the playoffs locked up.
You have 130 teams. I love the bowl system. I think we got a great mix the way it is. I love the bowl system. I love the fact that tons of teams get an opportunity to develop and end their season with a win. I think that makes college football unique, but yet also still has an opportunity to settle who the national champion is instead of somebody voting on it. I think that's a positive change. I think it's been great for college football. A lot of great interest, a lot of discussion.
Yeah, I mean, it's definitely a playoff game for us in Charlotte.
Q. I know Pat Narduzzi is not putting a lot of stock in the 2016 game. You guys obviously recovered from it well. Did it change your approach at all for the rest of the season after you lost that game in 2016?
DABO: I'm sorry. I didn't catch the first part of your question. Say that again.
Q. The 2016 game didn't have a whole lot of negative effect on your team because you won the national championship. Did it affect in any way the way you approached the game, make any changes because of losing that game?
DABO: They just came in here and outplayed us on that day. Man, their quarterback had a heck of a game. I just remember it was a million yards in the game. We couldn't really stop them. We had some turnovers. They just outplayed us that way. It was a great win.
We were very fortunate. If I remember correctly, it seemed like everybody lost on that day. Had that not happened, we might have been knocked out of the playoff. So we were kind of lucky that we still had an opportunity after we lost that game.
Really the team responded. That's really all you can do. It's hard to be undefeated. When you do lose, how do you respond? I thought our team responded well. We literally played our best football from that point on.
So we're excited about playing Pitt, for sure. I mean, ironically our seniors, their only home loss was against Pitt in their career. They went 27-1 at home. I know they're excited to have a chance to play Pittsburgh in their last-ever ACC game, to be able to battle it out for the ACC championship. I know it's something our team is excited about.
Q. Somewhat a disappointment you obviously noticed with the fan base. Is that a direct correlation to you guys as a program having raised the expectation bar so high? Do you feel maybe you've spoiled the fan base somewhat with your success over the last four or five years?
DABO: I'm going to say it one more time. We've had eight 10-plus win seasons. 12-0. First time in the history of this school we've won five state championships in a row. When that's not enough for some people, it's sad. It's sad.
We lost five of those in a row, so yeah, there's been some articles pushed my way, some comments from people. Man, this program's never going to be that way. I'm not going to stand for that. It's too hard to win. It's too hard to win. These players work too hard.
The goal is to win, period. That's just the way it is. I don't want to ever be a program, ever, that doesn't appreciate winning. When you win by three touchdowns in a state championship, you got people who can't appreciate that, man, that's really sad. That's really sad.
Just look around college football. There's a lot of places out there that would love to have the program we have here. I can assure you of that.
Q. Interesting you're playing your fourth different Coastal opponent in four years in the ACC that you hadn't played during the regular season. How much crossover tape have you been able to watch from Pittsburgh? They played Georgia Tech. You probably get a lot out of that from Georgia Tech's offensive standpoint. How much of a challenge is that?
DABO: Yeah, it's no different playing any other opponent. You get ready for them. If it was beginning of the season, it would be different. We have a bunch of, whatever, 11, 12 games of tape that we can study from their season.
But I've seen them on crossover probably three times this year that I've been able to see them on tape. I've seen them live a couple times. Got to see some of the game the other day a little bit.
Pat has done a good job, a really good job. I know they're excited to represent the Coastal. It's all about these four quarters. It doesn't really matter about anything else. Doesn't matter what your records are. Doesn't matter what happened last week. It's all about this game. This is championship football. Every play is a championship play. The winner is going to hold up the trophy.
Man, we're excited about the challenge. We're going to have a heck of a week. We're going to try to do everything we can to go make history.
Q. In the little film you have seen, do you think they're considerably different on offense with a new offensive coordinator in there?
DABO: Yeah, well, to be honest with you, I haven't studied them enough to be able to really give you a fair assessment. We're in the process right now of really diving into that.
Q. Your program has done a really good job, your players have done a good job, blocking out, no matter what the circumstances are, facing who you're facing at the moment. I'm guessing the same thing is true this week, in your opinion, despite the fact that you are going to be heavy favorites coming into this game?
DABO: I think we've been heavy favorites in 12 games, so business as usual. We've had seven straight wins by 20 points or more. That's a Clemson record. We've scored 27 points or more in every game. That's a record.
We just try to focus on our business. It doesn't matter who we play. We're trying to play our best football. We always talk about, man, we're playing to the Clemson standard. If we sat around and worried every week about what we're favorite of, whatever, you're never going to be very consistent.
So, I mean, we've been a team that every week I think has been favored, and most weeks been favored by a lot. For the most part we have played well. Again, we're 12-0. Haven't played perfect, but we've really played well.
It's a four-quarter game. They don't call a game after a quarter, two quarters. You play four quarters. When the game is over, you look up at the scoreboard and get a result. Our team has done an amazing job all year long of just staying focused on the task at hand, regardless of where we play, who we play, what their records are.
This is it, man. This is the end of the race right here. We got five days of preparation and the season's over. I mean, these guys are going to get a week and a half or so off, then it's all about a post-season opportunity. You got obviously more time to prepare and stuff like that.
Man, we just want to go empty our tank and finish this thing the right way and try to be ACC champs for the 18th time in our school's history. That's our focus. It don't matter who we play. We're locked in on that.
Q. Do you think it's an advantage this is your fourth straight time there, you have the routine down, and your players understand what this week is about?
DABO: I think experience is definitely the best teacher that you can have, for sure. We have a very veteran team. We got a lot of great leaders. We got a lot of guys, a bunch of guys on this team that have won three conference championships. That certainly doesn't hurt.
You have to prove it Saturday night. You don't get to carry over any of that stuff. You have to play well and earn it on the field on that day. Our guys understand that. Our preparation won't be any different this week than it was all the way back for Georgia Southern, whatever week that was. We don't do anything different.
I think first and foremost that creates the consistency in your preparation. The guys understand we don't prepare any different for any game. They're all huge. This just happens to be the last one of our season, and they're going to hand you a trophy when it's over.
The same things that win all year long are the same things that win in this game. But definitely the experience of our team is a benefit for us, for sure.
Q. In terms of just being another coach in the industry, how much did you know about Pat Narduzzi before he got to Pitt and the ACC? What were your impressions of him? What do you think about the identity he's instilled at Pitt?
DABO: I did not know Pat. Obviously knew about him in the industry, so forth. I believe he was with Mark at Michigan State. They were a heck of a tandem, for sure.
I didn't know him, but have gotten to know him since he's come into the league. I just think he's a great fit for their program. When I think of Pittsburgh, I think of toughness, I think of grit. I think epitomizes those two things. He's a tough, hard-nosed football coach. He's passionate. He loves the players. He has a defensive background. Their team is kind of built that way.
I think he has an identity that he believes in. His team takes on that identity. But a great guy, a really, really good guy. Like I said, I've spent a lot of time with him over the last few years obviously in meetings. Then also he's one of the guys that goes on the Nike trip, get to spend some time we and his wife there, too. Got a lot of respect for Pat, who he is as a person as well as a great coach.
Q. Talk about Pitt's running game. They have a two-headed monster. You guys are diving into the film this week. What do you have to do to contain the monster they have up there in western Pennsylvania?
DABO: Well, first of all, we got to get a good plan put together. It all goes back to the trenches. Every week the first thing is to find a way to run the ball, what do we got to do to stop the run. That won't be any different.
There's a certain style of play that you have to play to win in the run game. It starts with those guys up front, making sure we got a good plan, how we're going to fit things up from a second and third level into that run game.
But we'll put a good plan together, challenge our guys, see if we can go slow 'em down.
Q. You're bringing your third different quarterback to Charlotte. Talk about Lawrence, his preparation getting ready for this game.
DABO: It's actually our fourth different quarterback. Tajh Boyd, Kyle Parker took us to Tampa in '09 in our first championship appearance. We've had five quarterbacks that have represented us in this thing.
I'm excited for Trevor. He's had a great year. Unbelievable game last night. I mean, just wow. He has really settled in, is very confident in what he's doing. He just sees things. He's making plays with his legs. Back-to-back weeks, I think last week he averaged over eight yards a carry, this week over 10 yards a carry.
I'm really proud of his progress, where he is right now. He's just going to continue to improve and get better. But this will be a really fun experience for him. I don't have any doubt this is one of the reasons he came here. He wanted to compete for championships.
He's got a division championship, a state championship, and next up is try to win an ACC championship. I know he'll do everything he can this week to prepare to go play well.
Q. What did you see on the offensive pass interference call on Amari Rodgers' touchdown?
DABO: Kind of a tic-tac call. He kind of got his hand on him. He could make the call. It's a judgment thing. It is what it is.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Swinney, we'll let you go. Thanks for joining us this afternoon. Well will see you Friday in Charlotte for the press conference.
DABO: I appreciate it. Congratulations to Pitt and Coach Narduzzi and his staff for a great season, winning their division. We look forward to a great competition Saturday night.
PAT NARDUZZI AUDIO:
NARDUZZI: First of all, it's obviously I guess time to talk about this Coastal championship that we were able to accomplish this year. It's an honor and a privilege to be able to take Pittsburgh to the championship game and take on such a great football team and great coach in Dabo Swinney, the Clemson Tigers. We know it will be a heck of a football game. We know we're playing one heck of a football team in Clemson.
It will be our first trip there. Clemson has obviously been there before. This will be nothing new to them. I think it's going to be important for our football team to obviously stay focused and locked into why we're there, what our job is.
It's truly an honor to be there and represent the Coastal Division.
Q. After all your film study, what is the biggest difference between Clemson of 2016 and Clemson now, and your team 2016 and now?
NARDUZZI: You know what, I can talk probably more about our team. I can tell you more about their team maybe later on in the week. I apologize. We're kind of cleaning up really what we did this past weekend against Miami, so I'm not prepared to really say who they are right now.
I know they got a younger quarterback that's obviously done a phenomenal job as a rookie. They're very talented. Christian Wilkins on defense, recruited him a few years ago. I can't believe he's still there playing. They're obviously very talented, otherwise wouldn't be the No. 2 team in the country.
I think we've come a long way since we played them a couple years ago. I think our depth is better. Are we a better football team? I don't know. That's still to be determined. It's hard to gauge that.
Sorry I couldn't answer that question a little bit better.
Q. Shockey, he's playing a lot already. What does he bring to your team? Could you describe him as a player, what he gives you guys.
NARDUZZI: You said Shockey, right?
Q. That is correct.
NARDUZZI: He's going to be a great player for us. He's fast. He's quick. He's fun to coach. He's one of those kids that's got that personality that you love to have and coach.
But again, he's only going to keep getting better. He has the speed. We haven't been able to give him the ball as much as we'd like to with the way our run game has gone. He's a heck of a football player.
Q. What does this mean for you, for western Pennsylvania, going to this ACC title game? I know you got ready for Miami, but what does it mean for you knowing that you're representing western Pennsylvania, going down to Charlotte to hopefully win a title?
NARDUZZI: First of all, it's an incredible accomplishment that we clinched a week ago. I think, like I said to start off this press conference, it's an honor to be in this position. Our kids have worked hard. Our coaches have worked hard to go 6-2 in a tough Coastal Division. I think it's really everything. It's a dream to play in a championship game.
I think that's what young men and coaches dream to do, is to play in those big games. I've been in a couple of them. They've been fun. It's something that our kids I don't think will have any trouble getting up for, compared to other games. We got to just maintain our focus and stay calm.
But I think it's great for the city of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, really the state of Pennsylvania.
Q. For Clemson, what do you use to get ready for a team you haven't played in two years?
NARDUZZI: Our GAs have started to break down their stuff. We haven't started to dig into it as coaches here. I should say our assistants have now. But I haven't had a chance to. Just trying to clean up this last game details for team meeting, all that, doing some all conference stuff this morning.
The big thing is we're going to look at every game this season. We'll have bits and pieces of every game last season. We'll look at the 2016 game. We'll go back and look at any explosive plays they've had, trick plays, wheels, anything new that we haven't seen. We'll have really a two-year deal on them.
We started that weeks ago.
Q. Obviously you are going to be a big underdog going in. Do you play that card with your guys? Do you look at what you were able to accomplish at Clemson two years ago as a blueprint for you can really get it done?
NARDUZZI: What we did two years ago really won't have a factor. That was two years ago. We got different players, different coaches. Really what it's going to come down to is what we do this week.
The underdog, I mean, I think our kids will know they're the underdog. I don't think I have to tell them. If you turn any TV station on, turn on ESPN, they'll find out by the time we get probably Wednesday that they're the underdog. I won't really have to play that role up. I think they'll have figured that out.
Q. Obviously you came into Saturday's game with four straight wins, the last three by double-digits. How disappointing and deflating was to end the regular season on the note you did Saturday? What's the challenge for these guys to get their mojo back, that momentum back?
NARDUZZI: I think football players in general have confidence, period. It's not like we got our doors blown off. A tight game for most of the game. We let it get away from us at the end with a couple runs.
I'm not so sure some of our kids weren't already looking forward to this game already. So I don't think we'll have much trouble trying to get them ready for the game. I think they've looked forward to it for a week, maybe too much. I think that's the main thing.
Did I answer the whole question?
Q. You said you really haven't started your Clemson scout, so to speak. What can you take away from yesterday's game playing against an athletic defense, Clemson having the same type of deal?
NARDUZZI: Yes, they are. I think that will be the first thing, is we're going to face a fast, physical, big team like we did yesterday. Miami played their tails off. Again, I give them a lot of respect for doing that. Coach Richt had them going, ready for us. I'm sure Clemson will be ready, as well.
But I think what you take from it is you got to be ready and locked in to be able to block the best, to be able to tackle the best, stay in your gap against the best. This is not a bowl game, this is a championship game. We're playing the No. 2 team in the country.
Q. With this being Pitt's first trip to the ACC championship game, have you had any experience with this extended season in the past? How do you practice during the week? Do you change anything, have extra meetings with your players to deal with the extra media scrutiny and hoopla?
NARDUZZI: Yeah, you don't do much different. I've been in a couple of them, two Big Ten championships, played in some big bowl games. I think a Big Ten championship is a little different.
More like a normal game week for our kids. Obviously they're still in school. We're still under the 20-hour rule, unless something has changed. Let me know on that. We still have a 20-hour-a-week rule with the NCAA. We can't have any extra meetings.
Again, you got six days to prepare for a big game on Saturday night. We both have the same time to prepare for that football game.
Q. Could you talk about the satisfaction of bringing a title to Pitt? You turned down jobs as a defensive coordinator, you turned down jobs as a head coach till I presume you found the right fit.
NARDUZZI: Yeah, no question about it. When I took this job a few years back, one of the reasons I took the job is because I love the opportunity to compete in the ACC. I love the conference, love the division that we're in.
I thought looking at the Coastal, anybody had a chance to win that division and have an opportunity to go play in a championship game.
Really four years later it's coming to fruition that I was right in what I thought we could go through the division, have an opportunity to play in this game. Always felt like nobody in the division was going to be undefeated, winning that division, clinching it.
It's a tremendous opportunity that our kids have to go in there and compete against the best in the country.
Q. With respect to coaching being such a tough business, you turned down other jobs, found one that you liked, and it's paid off.
NARDUZZI: No doubt about it. It's definitely paid off. I love Pittsburgh. I enjoy being here.
Q. In a general sense, what is your take on how this Clemson program has sort of become the powerhouse that it is. I know they're in the Atlantic Division, you don't see them every year. Their dominance has picked up since you got to Pitt. Your thoughts on the way Dabo has built it over there, how they've become the standard they are in the ACC.
NARDUZZI: Yeah, I mean, obviously Dabo has done an incredible job. He's not only a football coach, but he's a businessman. He's got the tools he needs down there, the facilities, their slides, movie theater outside, backyard barbecues they have. They've got a unique place down south. They're able to attract a lot of talent.
They've done a great job winning football games which has helped the consistency of bringing more talent there. They got a ton of tradition. Like I said, Dabo really has done that. He has some Alabama ties. He's doing a little bit of the Saban way. He's building another powerhouse there in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.
Q. With the recent changes on your offensive line, the trouble they may have had yesterday against Miami, do you have any concern about them going against Clemson's defensive line, plays pretty athletically as you said earlier?
NARDUZZI: I appreciate it, understanding that game plan part of it. It's really obviously too early to decide that.
With the injury of Jimmy Morrissey, which I was asked after the game, you didn't really know as much as you saw when you watched the tape. There were certainly some concerns as far as what we did, how we did it.
I think you always get your best performance from game one to game two at the beginning of a season. I think, again, we're right back to where we are in game one. How are we going to adjust from game one to game two, with a new starting offensive line, new parts in there, not only with Connor Dintino, but Hargrove at the guard spot.
It's different. It causes some communication problems that we'll have to fix and make better this coming weekend to have a chance.
Q. Darrin Hall had a couple of big games against Virginia and Virginia Tech. It's been tougher sledding for you running the ball against Wake Forest and Miami. What did those teams do to give you a hard time in the run game? Just a matter of putting extra hats in the box, forcing you to throw?
NARDUZZI: Yeah, they put some extra hats in the box. Obviously some good D-lines. Again, Wake Forest put more guys in the box. Miami didn't put as many guys in the box, but they did some twists and stuff that we hadn't really seen a whole lot of. They did some different things to maybe confuse our guys up front. You add the confusion with some really talented football players up front for Miami, it was a recipe for a disastrous game there.
Q. While the game two years ago with Clemson won't bear much on this, how much did it have to do with you and your program getting to where it is today? Josh Conklin, are you following what he's doing at Wofford?
NARDUZZI: I guess they're 1-0 in the playoffs. I did notice that, was told that on the way home. I'm fired up for Josh. He's a great person and a great football coach. Does not surprise me he's having the success he had down there with a great Wofford program.
Back to how we got where we are. That Clemson game, any time you can go beat one of the best in the country, I think it gives your kids that belief that what we're doing is the right stuff, that if we have that focus, we continue to work our trade, you have an opportunity to win a lot of football games, beat anybody when you do that.
The stars have to be aligned, you got to do a lot of things right, have a little luck along the way. Being able to do that obviously helps a program with success they're going to have in the future.
Q. What is the root of the confidence you seem to have? Does it come from growing up, where you grew up, your father, or from the team you're coaching right now?
NARDUZZI: I think it's life. I guess maybe it's growing up. Growing up, we always have an opportunity to do whatever we want to do, period. We control our own destiny. I truly believe that. We controlled our destiny last week in the positive or negative way. We control our destiny this week.
Our kids have got to be ready to go, locked in. We can do whatever we want to do, just have to put our minds to it. I've always lived my life that way, whether wanting to go to college, getting a degree, marrying my wife. I mean, I say, I think I'm going to marry that girl there, that's the girl I want. That's kind of what happened.
I think it's an attitude.
Q. You played in a couple of the Big Ten championship games, coached. Were you able to take anything away from those experiences that you feel like have helped you with preparation, things to say to the guys this week before this game?
NARDUZZI: I think all your past experiences as a football coach or player or AD, whatever it may be, a writer, I think you're always going to draw from past experiences you've had, things you'd like to continue to do, things you'd do differently if you were put in the same position.
That's what we do as coaches, is collect data, collect things you like, move on with it. I think that's kind of what you do.
Q. Were there some specific things you looked at from the first time you played in the Big Ten championship to the second that you did differently at Michigan State?
NARDUZZI: There were some things we did differently, for sure, schematically as well as structurally with how we structured the weekend.
Q. You haven't had a lot of reason to focus or pay close scrutiny to Clemson this year. Do you have any thoughts as to the reputation the new quarterback has garnered with you and other coaches?
NARDUZZI: Like I said, I think I watched a little bit against Clemson-Syracuse in a previous game early in the year. Again, our offensive side of the ball, watching that. I watched more of Clemson's offense against Syracuse's defense and vice versa.
I think Trevor has done an unbelievable job. He's leading the No. 2 team in the country, maybe the No. 1 team in the country, to an undefeated season. He obviously has all the tools. Dabo has named him the starter a long time ago, and rightfully so.
I think his work speaks for itself, the victories speak for themselves. I'm going to get a chance firsthand to watch a ton of tape, watch and see what makes him so special.
Q. Is there a memory from the 2016 Clemson win, one that jumps in your mind, a certain play, something that happened off the field, the image you think you'll have of that when you look back?
NARDUZZI: I think one play, I'm a pretty simple guy, but the one play that stands out the most is watching Chris kick the field goal through the uprights at the end of the game. I think that's the final play, the final part that you remember, most about that football game for me.
There were a lot of great plays, Saleem Brightwell's interception. A ton of great plays. Jaymar Parrish going down the sideline, catching a wheel route. A ton of plays in that game. Nathan Peterman was on fire that day. There was a ton of great plays in that game.
That last one would probably be the one. Doesn't happen without that one.
Q. With Clemson and Pitt being in different divisions, not playing often, seems like there are ACC coaches that don't have a lot to do with each other. How well do you know Dabo, your thoughts on the job he's done at Clemson?
NARDUZZI: He's done an unbelievable job. As coaches, whether they were in our division or not, we don't spend a whole lot of time as coaches together. The times you do are at ACC Media Days where you spend time with them.
Dabo has done an incredible job. I think he's a great guy. I'd like to be like Dabo someday. He has a great personality. He's a player's coach. I just think he does everything the right way. I got the utmost respect for Dabo and the job he's done there.
Besides all that, I think he's a great person.
Q. Far-off perspective, he was not known as an X's and O's guys, never had a job as a coordinator. What do you think is maybe the key to his success as a coach?
NARDUZZI: He's a teacher first of all. He's a teacher. He's a motivator. He's a businessman. He's the CEO of Clemson. I think that's all you have to be. You hire other coaches to do those other things maybe that you haven't done or care to do.
Whether you've been a coordinator on offense or defense or special teams, or haven't, doesn't mean you couldn't have done that. Talking enough football in life with Dabo, he's a smart guy, can do anything he wants to do.
I'm sure he has a lot of ideas in that office with what should be done or why don't you try this. But he's a great football coach because he can lead a team. The kids believe in him. Again, he understands the psychology of the kids. Just the way he deals with his kids I think is the key. They play their tail off for Dabo Swinney.