By Trey McCurry.
Dabo Swinney met with reporters Monday as the Tigers continued their Meineke Car Care Bowl preparation on the practice fields in Clemson. The Tigers will wrap up practice in Clemson in the morning before taking a few days off before meeting again as a team in Charlotte. The following is a transcript of Coach Swinney’s comments.
We had a good practice. It was a “South Florida focus” in that everything was game planning and tying everything together from the past eight days as far as practices and meetings. The tempo was really good with excellent energy. The thing I liked the most was how good communication was today, not just with the guys on the field but on the sidelines too. We were able to go out and do some community service this morning. I enjoy that and hopefully our players got a lot out of that was well.
We will be in full pads and get after it tomorrow. I told them to come prepared for another good, physical day. When they leave here tomorrow, they need to feel good about their preparation. We will have one more good day tomorrow and then everyone can go home for a couple days for Christmas with their families. We will reconvene in Charlotte on the 26th and get back at it.
I think they are ready to play. I think we have had a good schedule, as far as how we have installed. We have kept them fresh; it has not been boring or monotonous, which has been good. We kind of changed the schedule up. They will be ready to go in the morning. We have a Christmas dinner tonight. They all got a pal that they are supposed to bring a gift for. They can make something or buy something. They get a little creative. Last year was a lot of fun. Some of the wrapping that they do is pretty impressive. We’re thinking about calling a team meeting tonight at 1:30 in the morning, on the practice field here. I don’t know if y’all know this or not, but there is a lunar eclipse tonight at 1:30 and we have not had one in 500 years. I got educated on this today. If anybody’s interested in joining us at 1:30 tonight, we might sell tickets and have hot chocolate and watch the earth take over the moon.
Thoughts on the JV practice:
There have been several guys. We feel really good about them. We have had good reports from Coach Batson from power hour and just our own observations from the scout team. We feel really good about the guys that redshirted. We redshirted all of them, except for four. Those four that played are going to benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience they got this year. It’s been fun watching those guys. It’s exciting. We think we hit on all of our offensive linemen. We feel good about those defensive linemen, the young DB’s, the tight end, and our young backs. They really all have been impressive in how they have worked. None of them really know what they were doing, but it has been a good start for them from a spring practice standpoint – confidence-wise, kind of gauging themselves, and just getting exposed to some things. It is like the old freshman camp when there was nobody out there but the freshman and coaches and everything went at their pace. It has been really good. I think they have all come a long way from when we started in fall camp. All of them have taken good advantage of the redshirt season. It will be beneficial for them, more than they even know.
On how Kyle Parker has been during bowl preparation:
He has been sharp and very into it. He has worked extremely hard and come ready every day. He has been very studious in the meeting room. When you are a competitor and things don’t go good the last time out, you want to get out there and play again. That is just what is in your DNA when you are a competitor and Kyle is just a tremendous competitor. Obviously, his last game was not quite like he wanted it. He has always responded and I would be surprised if he does not respond this time.
On the focus of Da’Quan Bowers with all the NFL talk surrounding him:
It is being a leader and that is what he has been all year. I’m not surprised. He has been a tremendous leader, on and off the field. He has been a tremendous inspiration for the team. He has made that very clear that “I’m going to make my decision here. Right now, we have to finish this season.” That is how he is going about his business. He has just practicing and having fun. He is just the same old Da’Quan. There’s nothing different about it. He will have his time to sit down with his family when the bowl is over and he will do what he needs to do. Whatever decision he makes, we will support him 100 percent. We just can’t ask him for more than he has given us.
On any standout redshirting guys:
There have been a few. Joe Craig jumps out. He has been a guy we have noticed all year long. We probably could have played him, but it wasn’t the best thing for him long term nor for us long term. I’m glad we didn’t. He is going to be a fun player to watch. He reminds me of Jacoby Ford, in that he has that type of speed to make plays. Bashaud Breeland is another one that I think that he’s just got “it”. Just watching him on scout team, watching him move around. There’s a few other guys, but those are a couple of them.