Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliot is a fan of noon kickoff times, like last Saturday against South Carolina State, because they normally allow him to go home after the game, grade film and then kick back and watch some of the other games around college football.
After the S.C. State game, Elliot went home and graded film from the game. But in this case there was no time to relax after doing that, with the game against Georgia Tech only five days away at the time instead of seven.
“As soon as I graded the film, it was right on to watching Georgia Tech,” Elliott said on Monday, “and we’ve been at it for the last day and a half or so.
“Seems like it’s been about three days.”
The quick turnaround and packed-in preparation for the matchup with Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday night has added a bit of stress on the coaching staff.
“Hopefully I don’t seem like I’m dragging, but it’s already been a long, long couple of days trying to get prepared,” Elliott said. “You have to turn over the game in respect for the players — you have to close out South Carolina State the right way, show them the film and correct their mistakes. Then, you have to get right on to Georgia Tech.”
The quick turnaround is tough for the players, too, of course. Not only do they have to get mentally prepared for the opposition in a short amount of time, but they also have to recuperate physically from the previous game and get their bodies ready for another one.
Fortunately for Clemson, the starters should be relatively fresh after not playing much in the 59-0 win over S.C. State.
And fortunately for Clemson, it is used to these situations.
This will be the third time under head coach Dabo Swinney that Clemson has had to play a game on short rest (playing Thursday after a Saturday game). The Tigers beat Wake Forest on Thursday night in 2012 and beat Louisville on Thursday night last season.
Elliott said that having played Louisville last year is helpful for this week.
“Being able to do the same thing last year with Louisville is where we kind of learned that this is what we needed to do for Georgia Tech,” he said.
Though the Tigers are losing a little practice time this week, they made up for it over the summer when they spent a couple of practices in fall camp preparing for the Yellow Jackets.
“We were able to put a couple of days of work in the bank so that when we came in on Sunday, we’re not starting over,” Elliott said. “The guys have some familiarity with it. You’re losing two days of preparation, so you’re trying to combine two practices into one where you’re working different situational things that come up in the game.
“It was big for us to have an opportunity over the summer to put in a couple of days.”
After watching film of Georgia Tech’s defense, Elliott said the Yellow Jackets play sound, aggressive football and have a lot of depth on the defensive line.
Elliott mentioned the importance of playing fast, but efficient in the game. Georgia Tech’s triple-option is going to limit Clemson’s offense to fewer possessions than usual, so the Tigers must capitalize on the opportunities they get.
But the biggest thing on a short week like this, according to Elliott, is simply making sure the players understand the basic assignments and game plan.
“When you have an extra day of practice, you can tweak a couple of things going into a plan, but when you’re preparing on a short week, you just have to make sure you have your guys ready and understanding what you’re doing. The biggest thing is to be simple, play fast and go out and execute.”