By Trey McCurry.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media Monday afternoon as the Tigers began practices for the bowl game.
We are excited to get back to work today. We actually had meetings with the players yesterday. Today we will get them back going as far as installation and more of a mental practice. Tomorrow we will get in full gear and get after it. I’m looking forward to seeing the guys move around tonight. The guys are excited to get back at it and finish the season on a positive note.
On any absences at today’s practice:
Nobody is missing, beside the injured guys. Andre Ellington had his surgery today and is coming back this evening. Terrance Ashe had his last week and he is on the mend. There are no academic casualties I know of at this point. You usually don’t get all the final grades in until Wednesday or so, but again I don’t anticipate losing anybody.
On Ellington’s recovery time:
The doctor said it is a four-month recovery and he should be as good as ever. I think it will be close for him for spring practice. My hope is that he can do some things moving around wise toward the end of spring ball, but I don’t anticipate him practicing, scrimmaging, and all that kind of stuff. We all feel pretty good about what he can do. Right now it’s just about getting him well and back to where he can go be himself. I’m not really concerned about anything other than that. We will have an opportunity to look at some other guys this spring and we are excited about that.
On the bowl game installation to this point:
The staff started looking at some South Florida things when they were not on the road last week. Kevin and Billy had a chance to watch all the games and I would say we are off to a great start. As far as installation, we’re just getting going because we haven’t had the players. If it was a normal game week, you would do this on Monday through Wednesday, polish on Thursday, and play the game. But it’s different with bowl prep with everything more spread out. We want to have everything done before we get up to Charlotte. When we arrive in Charlotte, we won’t have any game planning left. We will be getting better at what we are doing and gaining more knowledge watching film. You might tweak some things, but that’s about it. We will do a good bit of good-on-good. That is something we have to get back on. That’s how you sharpen up by putting your best on best.
On his sense on South Florida:
I’ve got a pretty good feel for them right now. They’re a good team and similar to us in a lot of regards if you study them on paper. Defense is both of our strengths and both offenses have had their moments and struggles. I think that is just an initial look at them. They’re athletic, they can run, and have good skill people. I’m impressed with their defensive front. They have a couple of defensive tackles who could certainly play here. Their ends are good players. I’m very impressed with their linebackers. I recruited Sam Barrington personally. A couple of their DBs will be drafted one day too.
On practicing indoors today:
We wanted to have great focus. Today is a mental day. We wanted to get everyone back on the same page. All they have been doing for a couple of weeks is lifting and running. We wanted to have the best environment today for that focus. It is in the 20s out there and the wind is howling pretty good. You don’t want them out there worried about being cold. This is a tempo day where there is a lot of teaching going on.
On the use of Tajh Boyd during bowl practice:
We will give Tajh some first-team reps. We want to take advantage of some extra practice time. As far as saying you’re going to get 80% or 20%, we’re not doing that. It’s more a feel for each practice.
On if he is using this time to look more toward next season:
The best thing we can do for next season is to win this game. Our urgency is getting better today and preparing to win the game. Next year will be here soon enough, but I want to send this football team out with a win. It would be great to put Brandon Thomas at left tackle and tell him he is playing the whole game, but that’s not the best thing for this team to win this game. But throughout practice, we want to take advantage of some opportunities to look at some guys.
On meeting with DaQuan Bowers about the NFL:
We had a great meeting last week in my office and followed each other around a few days. We’re on the same page. The biggest thing is making sure he has his questions answered and understands the big picture. He has a good feel for everything. He’ll do what’s best for him when the time comes. Right now his focus is on helping us win, as it should be.
On how the lockout may impact Bowers:
That’s something he’ll have to consider. There will definitely be a rookie cap. Again, I don’t think there’s any question he’ll be a top-10, maybe top-5 pick whenever he decides to go. If he thinks coming out is best for him and his family, that’s what he will do. If he thinks it’s staying here, he will do that. My objective is to make sure he has the right information and his questions answered. I support him either way. It’s not something you try to sell. I didn’t sell C.J. He had a lot of questions and info he was looking for. He has to make the decision. My job is to support them in whatever is best for him.
On the Terry Don Phillips situation last week:
I heard about it. Tim told me about it. I was not here. But I’m happy for Terry Don. Hopefully that stuff is all behind him and we can move on with what we have to do here. We have a lot of work ahead of us. My focus now is on recruiting and winning this bowl game, but I am very happy Terry Don will be here. He has been very supportive of me, as has President Barker. I’m just focused on getting this program where we all want it to be.
On having the Napier/Furman process behind him:
Yes. I didn’t think it would be a long, drawn out thing. I was good from him to go through that process. He’s an excellent coach and has a great future. He’ll be a head coach one day. It’ll be an invaluable experience going through that. The first time I went through that it was eye opening and I think it was for him. It’ll even make him a better coach. To be a finalist at your alma mater is a great compliment. I’m glad all that is behind us.