Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, along with running back Wayne Gallman, wide receiver Deon Cain and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow spoke with the media following Wednesday’s practice as the second-ranked Tigers get set to play No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona on New Year’s Eve as part of the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Here is what we heard.
Gallman said he enjoyed his last experience to Arizona, but there was one thing he and his Clemson teammates did not do. They did not bring back the national championship to Clemson.
“It was a good experience the last time we were there, but we just did not finish. But now the objective is to go back and reclaim victory on that field,” Gallman said after Wednesday’s practice.
To do that, the Tigers will have to beat a tough Ohio State team.
“We were there last year. Just like myself, I came up six points short in an opportunity to win a national championship,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “The big thing all year has been to finish with no regrets. Make sure we understand that we are back here because we earned the right to be back here, and now what are we going to do different.”
The little things are what they have to do different says Elliott.
“I just think about offensively, there are a couple of plays,” he said. “One of the most basic things we do every day is the quarterback-running back exchange. One of the cleanest blocked plays we had in the championship game and we fumbled the exchange.
“Then Deshaun roles out for a sprint out pass and he has hit that pass a million times and the ball sails over Renfrow’s head … There was a momentary lack of concentration or just not a commitment of excellence on every single play and it results in three or four plays making the difference in a championship.”
So the goal, as it has been all season for the Tigers, is to finish with no regrets.
“We stay committed to our core fundamentals and we push our guys every single play to make sure we have that attention to detail so when we are on the big stage, those plays will not come up if we don’t want them to,” Elliott said.
Gallman says he wants to finish the season up knowing he did everything he could.
“Finish just means to finish up the season and doing what you have to do to get there. In order to get to the national championship we have to go play Ohio State, and right now that’s the objective,” the junior said.
Cain says he is excited about the opportunity to play in the Fiesta Bowl. After being suspended for the Tigers’ playoff run last year, he is thankful he is getting a second chance to make up for the opportunity he missed last season.
“It feels good to just be out here again and competing,” the sophomore said. “Now, I’m just staying focused on getting to the game and executing once I get there.”
Cain, who is averaging 19.4 yards per catch and has nine touchdowns, understands he is the guy that can be a difference maker in a playoff game like this.
“Anytime the ball comes my way, I’m just trying to make an opportunity,” he said. “My role right now is anything. I know when the ball comes my way I just need to make a play.”
As for Renfrow, who scored three touchdowns in last year’s two playoff games against Oklahoma and Alabama, he says he treating each day of practice like a one-game season. He says if he can have success against his teammates in practice then he will be ready to play against the Buckeyes.
“We have good players and we have to beat them before we beat Ohio State,” he said. “That’s my mentality. I know if I can beat them, and I believe we have the best DBs in the nation, then I will be able to go out there and play and not be overwhelmed.”
Clemson will take Thursday off for graduation, and will resume bowl practice on Friday.