DABO SWINNEY: We’re excited to get back home this week. Our schedule this year has been kind of off and on, off and on, haven’t really had back to back home games. We’re coming off a big win down there at Florida State, really proud of our team. That’s always an incredibly difficult place to play and certainly win. So it was just a great win for us.
I thought that our team got better. I like where we are right now. We’ve got good momentum. But back in division play again this week here at home, and we’ve got a lot of respect for Louisville. They’ve got a bunch of outstanding football players, and I know they’ve had a couple tough losses, but this is a team that has a lot of potential and a lot of capability. I think it is improving.
Coach Petrino does an amazing job with their scheme. I mean, they really create a lot of problems for you, and you’d better show up and be ready to play because schematically they challenge you and can expose you if you’re not dialed in. And they’ve got really good players, really good receivers, quarterback is getting better and better. He’s an excellent runner, as well. Good backs, big tight end. Defensive line, very impressed with those guys. Big, big strong guys, and some guys that can run in the back seven.
Looking forward to it. Again, excited to be back home, and hopefully we can continue to play winning football.
Q. If you could kind of fight the urge to be diplomatic on this question, I’m looking at the score for FSU and the score for NC State. Has your program put more distance between itself and the rest of the conference at this point?
DABO SWINNEY: No. I mean, I don’t really buy into that or think of it that way. I really don’t. I know we’ve played well in the last three ballgames. But man, we were very fortunate to win the Syracuse game. That came down to the last deal, fourth quarter there. But these last three ballgames our team has really played well, and I think it’s more a reflection of that than it is us measuring ourselves against everybody else in the league and all that stuff. I don’t know. I haven’t seen everybody in the league. All I can tell you is our team has played very well the last three ballgames, complemented each other. It’s a reflection of us being even or winning the turnover margin, really doing a great job in special teams, being the least penalized team. To me the combination of that has allowed us to have the type of games we’ve had.
Q. How has Trayvon Mullen played this season?
DABO SWINNEY: Awesome. I mean, he’s one of the best players we’ve got on this team, and he’s one of the best I’ve ever coached at his position. I mean, he is special. He’s played very well, but the thing about him is he is one of the most committed guys we have on this team. Just a great preparer, all about the right things, unbelievable team guy, sets the example, practices hard every day, and just a fun guy to be around. Really proud of him. I mean, he is — just as we thought when we recruited him, we thought he would turn out to be one of the best, and he is.
Q. What are you noticing with your offense in the last three games to kind of explain why they seem to be up to another level here as of late?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, well, we’ve just matured and grown into our identity. I think the play of Trevor has been amazing. He’s just been awesome, done a great job with managing the game, and he’s made some incredible throws. Our receivers have played very well, and I think just our ability to have balance. We’re one of the few teams out there that’s up there in passing and rushing, one of the better rush offenses in the country and pass offenses in the country, and that’s — everybody wants to do that, but that’s really hard to achieve. So I think our balance, the fact that we have run the football so effectively this year, and then just the big play ability that we have at receiver and the performance of Trevor. And I think our offensive line has really improved as we’ve gone through the season. They’re really playing well for us right now. We had no sacks against Florida State, and they had Burns on their team, who’s leading the nation in sacks. So we’re just playing winning football right now and taking care of the ball, winning that field position battle, and kind of that game within the game.
Q. Just flipping Mark’s question to the other side of the ball, you’ve allowed 20 points combined the last three games, but all three, I believe, under 300 yards total offense. Who or what defensively has kicked you guys into another gear?
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, well, I think we’ve played well defensively all year, outside of the fourth quarter of the Texas A&M game. I thought we really kind of lost our way in that — we were up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and we had some big busts, misalignments, I mean, just kind of lost our way.
Outside of that fourth quarter and maybe the last quarter and a half of that Texas A&M game, I think our defense has played well all year. I think we’ve been very consistent. We’ve played three triple option teams, and we out-rushed all those teams, and that’s hard to do when you’re playing an option team.
Just really proud of the consistency. We’re playing great up front. I think our guys are healthy. We’ve been able to develop some really quality depth, and our staff does an amazing job.
I think three of our first four games were triple option teams, and then as we kind of got into the rhythm of our normal defense, I think that’s also been a factor, as you’ve seen our guys improve and become more consistent, especially on the back end. I think that that’s been a factor because we’ve played, like I said, a little more traditional offenses, things that they practice against every day, and I think that’s helped them to get in a little bit of a comfort zone and grow their confidence.
Q. Talk about Smith, the wide receiver for Louisville; what type of player is he? He’s explosive, if you guys don’t contain him at the line of scrimmage he could burn you for big plays.
DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, they’ve got a bunch of good receivers. That’s a definite strength of their team. They’re very talented but big. Smith is — he’s 6’4″, 220 pounds, and we’ve seen him every year, so we’re very well aware of the challenge that they present. This quarterback threw for 300 something yards last week. He’s improving. He’s a young player, and again, scheme-wise, they know what they’re doing. They know how to attack you and create good opportunities for their guys. The ball goes downfield. They trust those big guys to go up and make those competitive one-on-one plays. But he’s definitely — this whole receiving corps is definitely one of the best receiving corps we’ve seen
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