By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- A month after the Tigers’ clinched the ACC Championship game with a convincing win over Virginia Tech; they’ll take the show on the road to Miami where they’ll face off against #23 West Virginia. Although the break is long for the Tigers, tight end Dwayne Allen assured the media Thursday evening that Coach Dabo Swinney hasn’t backed off on his players, instead he’s turning things up.
“Coach definitely decided to turn things up at practice, had us out in full pads today,” Allen said. “It’s going to be a mo nth between our last game and the bowl game so we’ve got to get after it.”
How much of the focus right now is on West Virginia and how much is working on fundamentals?
“Right now we’re working on our basic stuff that made us successful,” Allen said. “We’re working on fundamentals, installing a little as we go, but it’s only the first week of practice.”
With the ACC Championship victory past, how much of a buzz is still around campus?
“Definitely, so much excitement going into the Orange Bowl,” Allen said. “This is what we’ve worked for all year, for it to be here finally we don’t have to motivate the guys to practice. You can feel it when you’re out there that they’re practicing hard, they feel good about themselves. West Virginia’s a good team, they’ve got some dangerous guys on offense, they’ve got great skill and some good pass rushers on defense so it’s going to be a task.”
How would a win in the Orange Bowl be a spring board for Clemson’s program next season?
“We’ve got five goals, we didn’t win the State Championship like we wanted to, but we did win the Atlantic, the ACC Championship and the opener. Our last goal is to win the bowl game, and to achieve four out of five goals, that means progress. We’re getting somewhere, the program is moving and that’s what we want.”
Allen, who is considered the best tight end in the nation going into the NFL draft in April, has a big decision to make in the next few weeks. When does he think his decision will be made?
“No I have until January 15 and that’s when I’ll be making my decision.”
Allen, who has been racking up the accolades over the last few weeks including the John Mackey Award given to the best tight end in the nation, is excited to be acknowledged for his achievements this season.
“It feels great to be recognized for something that I work hard at,” Allen said. “It’s great to be recognized as the best in my position. It’s one of those things, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I wrote out my goals the night before the first game and my team goals were to win the National Championship, the ACC Championship and win the Atlantic. My personal goals were to win the John Mackey, be a first team All American and an All ACC Selection, to be able to go down my personal goals and check them all off is amazing.”
What the one thing the team has learned over this season knowing that they still have work to do on January 4th against a very good West Virginia team?
“Don’t get complacent,” Allen said. “We’ve been at the high; we’ve gone 8-0 and have experienced a lot of success. We let that success get to our heads and didn’t come out and play well so Coach’s message was to just go out and practice hard, get back to fundamentals and play like we did in the ACC Championship game, we feel like we were able to put all three phases of the game together then and when we play like that I don’t think anyone can beat us.”