By Ashley Denny.
By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- As the Discover Orange Bowl gets closer upon us, the Clemson Tigers’ and their head coach Dabo Swinney become anxious to get to Miami and play in their January 4th matchup against the Mountaineers of West Virginia, but Swinney has done a great job of teaching his team that bowl preparation is a process, especially preparing for a BCS Bowl.
“It’s a long time to prepare so you’ve got to keep it fresh for them, change things up, really work hard to have the right combination of game plan, offense versus defense, fundamentals and technique, and I think we’ve done a good job,” Swinney said.
Swinney realizes that he can’t grind his players every day and work them into the ground, and because of this he’s given them some slower practices mixed in with several days of full pads.
“Today was a long day for us,” Swinney said. “We started this morning at 8:30 AM with these guys and did a community service project in Anderson, which was awesome. They did everything from building fences to splitting wood, moving furniture, landscaping, we got a lot out of them. Then we came right back had a bite to eat and went straight to meetings at 1:15. We’ve been in pads several days now so we came out today in vests, a lighter practice. We’ve got our Christmas party tonight which is always a lot of fun to see what they come up with and we’ll get after it again tomorrow and Wednesday and we’ll just meet on Thursday and grade the film then let them have a little four day break before we get back to it in Miami.”
From a coaches’ standpoint, Swinney hopes to have everything done and ready to go by Thursday so that the practices in South Beach can be used for tweaking any bit of the game plan that doesn’t seem to work.
“I want everything to be done and ready to go by Thursday so when we get to South Beach we can just work on polishing the plan and work on fundamentals,” Swinney said. “We can use our time in South Beach to work on the details and hopefully go out and play with high energy, high emotion, and great attitude.”
The team voted on the permanent captains also today with the winners being Coty Sensabaugh, Andre Branch, Brandon Thompson, Chad Diel, Landon Walker and Marquan Jones.
“This is a great example of the leadership on this team,” Swinney said. “Everyone got at least one vote out of the guys who were nominated. It was a split vote so to see three guys on each side be elected captains by their teammates that’s a great sign of leadership.”
The name that stuck out on that list to Swinney was senior wide receiver Marquan Jones who hasn’t gotten as much playing time this season as he’d hoped, has still found ways to step up and lead in the locker room.
“Marquan Jones, you talk about a great leader he got a ton of votes to be captain,” Swinney said. “He didn’t play as much as he’d like this year but he still found a way to impact this football team and that’s a great compliment to him from his teammates. I’m really happy for all of those guys.”
Swinney believes that the key difference between this seasons’ team and the 2010 team that ended the season 6-7 is the chemistry.
“I just think that the key intangibles on a football team that have to develop in the off season when no one’s looking is the leadership and chemistry of a football team,” Swinney said. “These guys know the commitment from everyone on and off the field. The leadership and chemistry are two of the most underrated factors on a team. This team has great chemistry and excellent leadership all year, we’ve got great chemistry on our staff and that’s transfers over. But these guys have been this way since January and I hope we have this same kind of leadership and chemistry on next years’ team. That’s what it takes. I think last year we had good leaders but didn’t have the wealth of it as we’ve got this year.”
One player who Swinney believe has found a way to impact the team from a backup role is tight end Brandon Ford.
“He’s continuing to progress, obviously he has a great player in front of him,” Swinney said. “He found a way to impact this season and has had an excellent year for us. His biggest challenge is playing with the level of intensity that it takes every play at his position. He has great ball skills, running routes, he gets all that but it’s the technique, the physical part, the execution of that where he’s improved the most. He’s going to have a great offseason, I’m excited about him and his commitment to take it to another level, he’ll have a career in front of him he’s got great ability.”