CUTrevor 2022-12-29 11:57:34

I'll have this morning's press conference with Dabo and Josh Heupel shortly! In the meantime, the transcript is below.

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the Capital One Orange
Bowl head coaches' press conference.

DABO SWINNEY: Well, lucky day for y'all. I lost my voice,
so I don't know where it went. Hopefully I'll find it soon.
We've had a great week. Really grateful for all the people
that work hard to put this on. It's a great experience for our
staff, our families, our players, and I'm sure for both teams
there's a lot of work that goes into it, practice areas, and
also creating opportunities and experiences, whether it's
great places to eat, being able to have a beach day and so

Got to go to a basketball game last night. Maybe I lost my
voice cheering for the Heat, I don't know. But it's been a
great trip. It's two great teams.

Tennessee is one of the best teams in the country and has
had an amazing year, so it should be a great game. We're
thankful to be here and represent the league and represent
Clemson in a place that's always been special to our fans
and to college football.

Thank you all for all that you have done to make it a great
week, as well.

JOSH HEUPEL: Just want to say thank you to the Orange
Bowl committee and South Florida. The hospitality for our
program has been absolutely fantastic. It's been a great

Before we got down here, having played in it and coached
in it before, I was able to relate to our players and staff
what this week is all about and the opportunities that they
were going to have to see South Florida and have a great
week of experiences.

You guys have rolled out the orange carpet and shown us
a great week. We appreciate everything so much and are
certainly looking forward to the football game.
It's been a long time since Tennessee has been here. 
Really proud of what this program has done in the last 23
months since our staff arrived. Really proud of our players.
Playing a great opponent here tomorrow, and looking
forward to that.

We've seen a lot of the VFLs, former players, starting to
make their way down here and I know our fan base is, too. 
 It's great to see all those former players show up, and I'm
looking forward to going out and competing with our
football team tomorrow.

Q. Dabo, I know you joked about losing your voice last
night at the Heat game, but if I'm not mistaken you and
Spo have been friends for a minute here, and I'm
wondering what the benefit is from coaches kind of
learning tricks of the trade when it's different sports
and different philosophies, and if you could share a
little bit what you've shared with Spo and what you've
learned from him.

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, he's a guy I got to know. We
have a mutual friend that connected us several years ago,
and then he reached out, I don't know, four or five years
ago or so and wanted to come to Clemson. That was a
really cool thing. He flew in for a day with one of his

Listen, it doesn't really matter what the sport is. If you're in
leadership and you're dealing with people, there's so much
you can learn, especially when you're in a competitive

Even though he's in the pros, especially with basketball,
those guys are young guys, so we're dealing with young
guys in competitive dynamics, leadership, culture, all those
type of things. That's how we first got to know each other,
and then we stayed in touch throughout the years. I
actually came down with my son to a playoff game last
May, and that was pretty cool. I'm 2-0 in '22. I let him
know that last night. Brought some good mojo.

But it was fun. But I think that's what coaches do is
collaborate. I think our profession is really unique that way
in that like we have our AFCA convention coming up in
another week or so, and all these coaches come from all
over. I mean thousands, and we talk and we meet. We
literally played Ohio State one year, it was the craziest
thing. I think it was the game -- I don't think it was this
game. I think it was the game out in Arizona.

Not long after that game we met as a staff, their staff, our
staff, and we kind of got together and talked through the
game. It was crazy.

That's one of the cool things about our profession is we
compete, but we collaborate and always have. It's not the
case in most industries, right. Coke doesn't sit down with
Pepsi at the end of the year and say, hey, boys, what did
you think? Let's see how this goes. But football coaches
do that.

There's just so many relationships, and that's what makes
the game really unique.

Just relationships like that come through collaboration that
crosses over the sports and business world, et cetera.
Q. I have a question for you both, Coach Swinney and
Coach Heupel. What's the impact Mike Reed has had
on your staff this year, being recently elevated to
assistant head coach? And for you, Coach Heupel, for
Tim Banks, you recently added him; what's his impact
been for you this year as a defensive coordinator?

JOSH HEUPEL: Tim has been a phenomenal leader on
the defensive side of the football. When we were going
through the process of finding our defensive coordinator
two years ago, looking for somebody that had experience
that was a great leader, that was multiple in what he was
able to do, was relationship driven and had a great ability
to teach, for all the things that we encountered when we
first arrived on campus, his steadiness, his leadership, his
ability to gain buy-in from the guys around him, that's staff
members that were coming in. Not everybody had worked
together. There was some common threads where there
were some previous relationships there. But then getting
all of our players to buy in to what we're doing.
He's done nothing but do a great job of continuing to grow
what we're doing on that side of the football, and you can
see that in the way our guys play for him.

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, Mike Reed, he's just a great
leader. He's been with me since the 2013 season, so he's
just going near 10 or whatever, and has done a
phenomenal job. He's coached a bunch of great players at
Clemson. He's been a part of some of the best defenses in
college football over the last decade. He's coached
first-rounders and everything in between. He's a great
recruiter, great communicator, really knows the game, but
he's also our special teams coordinator, and he's a great
friend. Love his family. He's got a great, beautiful family,
his wife Kim and Michaela, Milan, his daughters.
Just a guy that has really grown and would be a great head
coach, as well, so it was easy. We had a lot of staff
transition last year for the first time in a while, so it was
easy to be able to promote him to assistant head coach
and lean on him in a lot of areas.

Q. Josh, you've got three players opting out, all good
players. You've got your coordinators gone and
you've recently had a quarterback change. In a regular
season you may have one of those changes in a given
week. To have all of them at once, how is the
challenge different for you as a coach, and how do you
navigate all those changes within one game?

JOSH HEUPEL: Yeah, I think at the end of the day that's
kind of the landscape of what happens at times inside your
program when you're having success and during the
course of bowl season. You can see that across the
country. The unique thing is you have a couple extra
weeks to prepare and plan for those situations. You're not
dealing with it in a seven-day span. We lost some really
good players. I think that provides unique opportunity.
That's the tough thing and the great thing about college
football is that essentially a quarter of your roster is
graduating every single year. With that provides new
opportunity to go make plays because you've got more
snaps on the football field. It provides opportunities in
leadership. It's the great thing about college football.
You're essentially building your roster and your football
team every single January, and that's always true, but I
think in the landscape of college football, it's certainly true,
and more evident and more prevalent now with the transfer
portal, too.

Q. We saw Sheridan Jones not practicing yesterday. 
Just wondering if he was going to play in the Orange
Bowl and if his career is done at Clemson.

DABO SWINNEY: I'm not sure. Sheridan could come
back. He's been dealing with a hip flexor, so it's going to
be close. He's one of those guys that's played a lot. He's
got a lot of experience, but been battling a little bit. We'll
see. But as far as is he done at Clemson, he's declared
this as his senior year all year, but as you know, a lot of
these guys have -- I guess we're going to deal with it for a
couple more years, I guess, with the COVID year. I don't
know if it's his last time. A lot of guys are going to decide
that after the game.

Q. For both coaches, both of you were in a situation
with one loss at the end of the year, you probably more
likely would have been in the playoffs. In that
situation, some teams find it hard to be motivated to
be in this game because of the disappointment. How
long did it take for you guys to get over that
disappointment, and what were you able to do to keep
them motivated and make sure that this game was
important to them?

JOSH HEUPEL: Yeah, we had to reset the following week,
and I think you guys played the week after, as well.
The only reason we've gotten to this point, these players
didn't come into this and just inherit it. They've worked for
it from the moment that we got there on campus. That's
the competitive nature. It's their connection to one another.
Our players were able to reset. Was there
disappointment? Absolutely, in that moment, and you
could feel it in the building when they came in the following
day, on Monday.

But they were able to reset. This is an important game to
our football team. We talk about finishing. We talk about
legacy. This group that is graduating and heading on, this
is a way to finish it and leave a strong legacy at

At the same time, I think bowl games in this era are also
about kicking off the following season. For all those things,
our kids' focus and energy out at practice has been

I think it's important that you enjoy the bowl experience
while you're here in South Florida, but when you're in
meetings and on the practice field, you've got to be dialed
in and locked in. I really like how our guys have handled
the week up until this point.

DABO SWINNEY: Well, I mean, we've got to manage the
disappointment. There's certainly disappointment anytime
you lose a game. We all go into the season wanting to win
every game. I think there's two teams that are undefeated
right now.

To have a great season, you have to manage success. 
You've got to manage failure along the way. Yeah, when
you look back at the end, like man, there's only four teams
right now that get to go to the playoff, as you alluded to
there. So disappointing in the moment, but for us, yeah,
you go back to work.

Yeah, it hurts, but you come in on Sunday and you don't
have time to linger. We've got a championship game the
very next week to play a really good North Carolina team.
So we reset, refocus, and thankfully we had another game
to play. That certainly helps.

Then as far as being motivated, both these teams have
won 11 games. You don't go 11-2 if you're a team that
doesn't have good leadership because it's hard to win. It's
really hard to win. So to win 11 games in today's world in
college football is special. It's a great season.
Then to be able to come to the Orange Bowl and play the
sixth-ranked team in the country, you turn on the tape, you
get motivated real quick because these guys are
competitors. Both teams, you've got guys that like to play. 
That's why they play football. They don't play football to
whatever -- they like to play the game. It's a chance to go
play the game, and not only that you get to do it at a venue
like this, at Hard Rock Stadium, and you're playing one of
the best teams in the country.

Turn the tape on and watch these dudes run, you'll get
motivated real quick.

Q. Coach Swinney, the NCAA rule change allows
those enrollees to get out on the field with you. What
have you seen out of those guys? I was having fun
watching Nick Eason with his guys trying to coach
them up. How has it helped them prepare for what the
season will bring?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, it's been great. It would be even
better if they would let them play. That would be great. It's
been fun having those guys.

I think it speeds up their acclimatization process, just
getting the feel of guys. Most of the time when they get
here in January they're into school and off-season program
and drills and spring ball. To be able to have a visual even
though it's not a normal game week, to just kind of be
exposed to that a little bit, to be around some of the guys
that aren't going to be here when they get going I think is a
unique opportunity, as well.

I think it's been great. I'm glad they did that. Then to be
able to also put our eyes on them as far as having a first
opportunity to really coach them in meetings, and then part
of what we have always done in bowl prep is we get a lot of
work on Clemson fundamentals, technique, kind of back to
some basics. We get a lot of work on the opponent, and
then we do a lot of JV work. We kind of create a JV
season, create a couple scrimmages and have a lot of fun
with the young guys, a lot of individual, a lot of that, so
those guys, they couldn't scrimmage, because they
couldn't get to that point, but to be able to get to work with
them in individual drills and technique and coach them is
very beneficial for them and us and I think just, again, it's
been really fun. There were five of them that got the
opportunity to come, and I think they've really enjoyed it.
They're what we thought they were off the hoof.