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Swinney changes things up to toughen up his team

When you have everything at your disposal, it is easy to forget what it is like not to have it. That’s why Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney likes to remind his players on how good they really have it.

Thanks to the new Allen Reeves Football Complex and the Poe Indoor Practice Field, Clemson players are pampered when it comes to facilities. Even the Tigers’ outdoor practice fields are nicer than the game-day fields some teams play on during the regular season.

In other words, Clemson’s football players can be spoiled at times.

So every year, as the Tigers’ begin the third week of fall camp, Swinney changes things up a little bit and he moves his team out to Jervey meadows where the field is lumpy and there are chicken and rib bones from the previous tailgate season spread out all over the place.

There is no shade from the sun or the sweltering heat or an air conditioned building to cool off in. For two and a half hours, Swinney puts his players in the most imperfect conditions he can in hopes of toughening up his football team.

“It just so perfect over there (at the new football complex) … it is just perfect,” said Swinney, who has done the move to Jervey Meadows for four seasons now. “We have immaculate fields and everything is just amazing. I just want them to kind of remember where we came from.

“You come over here and it just is not real perfect. It is just kind of lumpy. We do the best we can. We found a big rib over there, a chicken wing. It is just a little bit more of a grind. There is no shade. It is just a little bit harder.”

What it does is it puts things in proper perspective.

“It takes you back to the roots of football, when you were a kid and you had jamborees and camps,” said offensive tackle Tremayne Anchrum.

Anchrum describes Jervey Meadows, which is located right behind Doug Kingsmore Stadium, as an opportunity to get back to the basics. He said it gives the Tigers “a chance to get away from all the glamour. (The Reeves Facility) is awesome, but this gets us back to the grind.”

In other words, it toughens them up so when a game is tight in the fourth quarter and they need to find a way to push through, the players have an experience they can draw from.

“We have been going two weeks so this is the point of camp where we have to develop some mental toughness because that is what this comes down to,” Swinney said. “It’s not physical. This is mental. That is a big part of it. See who is going to embrace it. There’s a bunch of gnats out here and all of that, see who is going to embrace it and who is going to kind of give into it.”

In the Tigers’ first practice at Jervey Meadows, the offense, which is full of inexperienced players, gave into the heat and the not so pristine conditions of Jervey Meadows, and in turn showed their head coach just how far they have to go before they are ready to take on the 2017 football season.

Swinney has 17 days to get them in shape, and until game week he will do it at Jervey Meadows.

“I think there is just a better appreciation for what we have and it will just have a different feel (when we go back to the new football complex),” he said. “So, you know, just kind of change the scenery, change the dynamics a little bit and the variables … let’s see how they respond.”

 

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