Clemson preparing for FSU with ‘hourglass’ mentality

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney speaks to his team prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As third-ranked Clemson’s game week of practice in preparation for No. 12 Florida State began on Monday, head coach Dabo Swinney used an hourglass to send a message to his team.

Swinney held up the hourglass in front of his players, and flipped it over. As the sand trickled down, Swinney made a point about time and not taking it for granted.

“He turned (an hourglass) over, and said we all got the same amount of time, and there’s never enough of it,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables recounted on Tuesday. “You can’t turn it back over and start again. You got what you got.

“So, just trying to exhaust every moment that we can leading up to the game and give the guys an opportunity to be successful.”

Swinney wanted to illustrate the importance of preparation and his Tigers taking advantage of the limited time they have to get ready for the Seminoles.

“We want to play well. Well, you have to prepare well,” Venables said. “It’s not all about getting jacked up and excited and having great players — that’s not what wins for you. Emotions is a great part of the game. It’s a great equalizer in the game, being intense, but that comes on game day.

“The confidence and the toughness, playing fast, playing physical, making competitive plays — that all comes through the preparation and the very limited amount of time that you have.”

The scope of Swinney’s lesson extended beyond just the upcoming game, though.

Swinney also emphasized that games, seasons and overall days at Clemson are numbered for the players — and thus, they should relish their opportunity.

“Your time is limited in your opportunity here at Clemson, so appreciate this opportunity and appreciate the time that we have together,” Venables said. “It’s unique. It’s special. So, it’s a lot of things that he’s trying to suggest by that demonstration.”

Venables was fired up after hearing Swinney’s speech. He thinks the team was receptive, too.

“I think so. I know I was like yeah, I like that. Let’s get to meetings. Let’s goo to practice,” Venables said with a smile. “It was a great demonstration, and one where I think players relate.”

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