Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is not pleased.
After four bowl practices, Swinney said the top-ranked Tigers have looked average as they prepare to play No. 4 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinals from the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“We are not anywhere near where we need to be or I want us to be … been just very kind of average yesterday and today to be honest with you,” the Clemson coach said following practice on Friday.”
There is good reason for Clemson’s average play in practice. The players had to deal with exams all week, something that is usually done by this time of the year on the calendar at Clemson.
It also has not helped that the coaches have been out on the road recruiting due to the new early signing period. This week used to be what is called a dead-period, meaning the coaches can’t talk to recruits.
“This is a little different challenge for us this year,” Swinney said. “As I have said the last several years when we have started bowl practice, school has been over and we have had all bowl focus. But everything is pushed back a week later so we have been having to balance finals and prepping for that, recruiting, there has been a lot going on this week.”
Swinney said practices have not been totally terrible, and he is looking forward to jacking it up on Saturday.
“It’s not quite the edge or the focus we needed yesterday or today so thankfully today was the last day of finals,” he said. “Starting tomorrow, hopefully, we will have full attention on what we have to do to get ready to play this ball game.”
Clemson will practice on Saturday and have meetings on Sunday before hosting a community service event on Monday and doing a walk through. The Tigers will then go full speed in practice Tuesday-Friday before taking the Christmas Holiday off Dec. 23-26.
The team will report pack to Clemson on the 26th, practice on the 27th and then head to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl that afternoon.
The branch extends to two. Swinney was happy to hear former Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier was named as Louisiana Lafayette’s new head coach on Friday.
Napier was a part of Swinney’s first staff and played a major role in Swinney’s interim head coaching season in 2008. Napier’s offense, led by running back C.J. Spiller and quarterback Kyle Parker, led Clemson to the ACC’s Atlantic Division title in 2009, the first championship of any kind under Swinney.
Napier and Swinney parted ways after the 2010 season. Napier has since coached at Colorado State, Alabama and Arizona State before landing his first job as a head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday.
“I’m really happy for him,” Swinney said. “I have two branches now. I have two branches. I’m proud of Billy. He did a great job for us. He is a bright young coach and I’m just proud of what he has gone out and done. To get that opportunity is a big step for him.
“I’m sure he is excited and will put a good staff together and go to work.”
Chad Morris, now the head coach at Arkansas, worked under replaced Napier prior to the 2011 season as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. Morris stayed at Clemson until 2014 when he became the head coach at SMU.
Morris left SMU last week to take over as Arkansas’ head coach.