TUESDAY DABO PC AND CLEMSON PLAYER INTERVIEWS: Florida State Week
- 2018-10-24 05:28:04
We had our weekly Tuesday press conference with Dabo today and spoke with Hunter Renfrow and Tanner Muse. Dabo talked about the fact that the Noles' record isn't what it usually is, but FSU is playing much better and still has great athletes across the board. He mentioned that he is 1-9 against FSU in recruiting, beating them only last year. He said their offensive line has figured some things out and are blocking much better. I asked Dabo about getting to know Willie Taggart when he visited Clemson to watch practice the spring before last. I also asked him whether Trevor Lawrence's internal clock is about where it needs to be or whether it's something that he has to improve on. Dabo said there have been a couple instances, like the one sack he had on Saturday, in which he needs to get rid of the ball sooner or run. He said Trevor needs to get better at managing the pocket but that he was impressed with the one scramble he had, when he slid just short of the first down. I also asked Dabo about the depth on the defensive line and how that has kept the starters fresh this deep in the season. Finally, Dabo told us that he met Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach on the Nike trip last year. I asked Dabo if Leach is as eccentric privately as he is with the media, and Dabo said without a doubt. Quotes from Dabo's press conference, as well as the full video, are below along with the Renfrow and Muse interviews. I'll have more in a bit!
“We have another big challenge ahead of us this week. After really having a few days to dive into Florida State, they’re still Florida State. I know their record is 4-3 right now, but they got off to a slow start…new coach, new systems, new everything, so it took them a couple of games to figure out who they are and hit their stride a little bit. They really probably should have won the last four in a row, but they’re 3-1 in their last four games and are really starting to play some good football.
Offensively, [quarterback Deondre] Francois is a very good player. They have great skill outside…two running backs in [Cam] Akers and [Jacques] Patrick that are really good players. Francois is a good thrower, and he’s mobile. They have figured some things out up front on the offensive line as far as getting guys in the right place…that was an area for them, early, that they were trying to figure out. They have a really good tight end, and that freshman receiver that is going to be a really special player…[Tamorrion] Terry is a 6’4” guy that looks a lot like Justyn Ross. They’re typical Florida State.
They definitely have the best defensive ends we’ve seen…this defensive line is really, really good. [Brian Burns] leads the nation in sacks…he’s long, fast and twitchy. They have really good depth at defensive end and defensive tackle…and they play them. They’re big, thick, physical and strong guys inside. They’re fast and athletic at linebacker, and really good in the secondary. They’re very skilled and talented, and one of the best in the country against the run. I think they’re sixth in the country versus the rush.
Again, their record is not same ole Florida State right now, but their talent is. This is my tenth year as head coach, and I think I’m 1-9 against them in recruiting rankings. I think the only time we’ve ever so-called ‘out-recruited’ them was last year. That’s it. They have a bunch of cats…a bunch of good football players on that roster. Again, they’re really starting to hit their stride.
That left-footed punter [Logan Tyler] is a good player. They have dangerous, dangerous returners. That little [D.J. Matthews] who plays the slot for them is also a punt returner, and he takes a lot of chances. He’s one of the best out there…a really good player.
It’s a dangerous football team that I think is really figuring out their identity and buying into what Willie [Taggart] is trying to get them to do. So, we’re going to have a huge challenge, for sure…there’s no doubt. For us, it’s same old, same old. Each week is the biggest game of the year. This is another game within our division, which gives us a huge opportunity to try to stay in control of the division…that’s really what it comes down to…not putting yourself at the mercy of something else happening. That’s the focus of our team…having another great week of preparation and trying to build on the momentum that we created. I think we got a lot of confidence right now, but we have a lot of improvement to do. There is so much that we can continue to do better, but I like the progress that I’ve seen, and I like where we are. I think that we’re a team, kind of like Florida State, that’s figuring some things out as far as who we are and who can do what as we move from the first half of the season, too.
I’m excited about it. It’s always a great place to go play a ballgame. It’s a place we haven’t had a ton of success at, so we have a lot of respect for their program and the place we’re going to be playing…and certainly, their players. They’re very talented across the board.”
On Willie Taggart’s visit to Clemson a two years ago:
It was good. That was the first time I’d ever met him. I did not know him at all, really…I knew who he was, but I had never been around him. He certainly had a good reputation and had done a great job at Western Kentucky and South Florida. If you look what he did with those programs…he built them and got them going. I don’t know that he had great starts at either place, but he built them, which is probably why he got the Oregon job. He came right before his first season [at Oregon], and then, obviously, I’ve had a chance to be around him a couple more times through our ACC meetings, but I think he’ll do a great job and is a great fit. Good man.
On whether Taggart implemented anything Clemson-style into his schemes after that visit:
Not really schematically. They’re very committed to who they are. His visit here was more program-type stuff. Schematically, they’re very convicted in what they do. And we’re very different…we’re very, very different in what we do. Offensively, there’s a few things that are similar, but we’re different.
On the difficulty of coming in, as a new head coach, to players that were recruited to the previous coach’s system:
It’s hard…and I think that probably speaks to what happened in the first few games. Everybody is trying to figure it out. It’s one thing to go out and have spring practice, and it’s another thing to go out there and play. They’re tempo, kind of like Syracuse…a lot of fast snaps, screens, zone read and a little bit of counter, some jet sweep stuff, multiple formations, bunch sets and really, really wide splits…and they play fast. They try to create space and one-on-ones. Obviously, that’s very different from who they were. I just think it’s taken them a little time to get to their stride.
The Virginia Tech game got away from them early. Samford came in there with a hot quarterback and a heck of a plan…I don’t know what Samford’s record is, but I’ll tell you what, I was impressed watching that bunch. That quarterback that they have at Samford is a baller. He’s a good player. But [Florida State] hit some big plays on [Samford], and Florida State ends up winning the game and just found their stride. Syracuse got to their quarterback, and that was the biggest issue in that game. But in those first few games, I think coaches and players alike were figuring out who can do what, and exactly what their identity was going to be. Now, they’ve really settled in. Again, they’re right there in position to win the Miami game…they led most of the game. They’re a team that is 3-1 in their last four, and really all that matters is this game. Records don’t matter. If records mattered, Purdue doesn’t beat 7-0 Ohio State, right? Records don’t matter. You have to play the game. Heck, we lost to Syracuse last year, and they won three games while we were undefeated. That doesn’t have anything to do with the game that you’re getting ready to play. That’s why you have to prepare, respect every opponent and understand them. Like I just said, if you think they don’t have talent, then you’re not paying attention. That’s a bad, bad assumption. If the recruiting rankings mean anything, we’re 1-9 against them in my 10 years. They have plenty of talent.
On Christian Wilkins’ Monday comment about having the most fun he’s had in his four years:
I just think that he made a decision to come back and has been so intentional in everything. He has truly enjoyed the entire journey…all of it. He had fun in mat drills. He’s been so committed to what he came back to do. He loves his teammates. The guy graduated last December, and you don’t make a decision like that [to come back] unless you really, really love where you are, who you’re with and what you do. I just think that he knows that this is it. Last year at this time, he was torn, and it was heavy on him…whereas now, he knows this is it, and he’s gone about it in a way where he’s really enjoyed it. Go back to the spring game…he’s playing safety and having a ball. He has had a blast. He’s an unbelievable teammate and is one of the best leaders that I’ve ever been around. He has a dynamic personality, but is also a great football player. He’s taken such great care of his body. We’ve been able to play a lot of guys, and I think our guys are healthy right now…fresh. That’s a real key for us down the stretch, especially with guys like Christian…how they feel at this point in the season. But he’s just enjoyed it all. Homecoming last Wednesday…going out and handing pizzas out at the floats. He just loves the whole college experience and is just trying to finish strong. He takes a lot of pride in his role as a leader, and he’ll show up today and be excited for Tuesday practice, because that’s just who he is and how he’s wired.
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